As the Idaho Legislature continues to refuse a publicly funded pre-K program, public and private responses to the need have grown.
Earlier this summer, the 2015 edition of the Kids Count Data Book
from the Annie E. Casey Foundation confirmed what many parents already know: Idaho's inadequate access to pre-K is a long-term detriment to student success. Sixty-eight percent of Idaho children are not attending preschool, up from 67 percent in 2009. In 2013, 33,000 Idaho 3- and 4-year-olds were not enrolled in any kind of preschool. Idaho ranks 49th in the nation for kids attending pre-K, according to the census.
“It’s important that every kid has the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Alejandra Cerna Rios, of Idaho Voices for Children, who pointed to the recently announced partnership between the city of Boise and the Boise School District to introduce free pre-K at two schools in the Vista neighborhood.
“The city of Boise has made a meaningful commitment to school readiness with the Vista project,” she said.
In an effort to assist children who are entering kindergarten but may be lacking the necessary skills for success, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County announced this past week that it was expanding its "Year1" program
at its Garden City and Meridian facilities. Thanks to an $80,000 grant from the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation and other community support, Boys and Girls Clubs officials said they will be able to hire a new director for the program and update their resources, which provide one-on-one assistance in navigating the kindergarten experience.
"Too many Ada County children are entering kindergarten without the basic skills needed to be successful. Most have not had access to high quality early learning opportunities and quickly find themselves falling behind. For some, this will be the first in a long chain of academic struggles throughout their childhood," said Program Director Stephanie Lovell. ”The Boys and Girls Clubs Year1 Program hopes to help these kids catch up and reemphasize what they are learning in school."