New report details high cost of child care for Idaho families

The 12th annual “The U.S. and the High Cost of Child Care” report found that the average annual cost of child care for an Idaho infant can range from $6,264 for home-based care to nearly $7,300 for center-based care. And for two children – an infant and a 4-year-old, as an example – those costs can reach about $13,600 annually. As a point of comparison, the average year’s tuition at a public university is $7,250 and an average annual mortgage payment is $14,148.

Back to School 2018

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It’s an exciting time of year!

Child care programs are greeting new families, preschool and kindergarten classes are seeing first-time students, and elementary schools are welcoming back familiar faces. As our children and families enter a new year of growth, our early childhood teachers remain a steady force through it all.

As you know, early childhood is a critical time of development that affects the rest of our children’s lives. It is so important for us to do everything we can to ensure that those first years of life are met with loving, caring adults in safe, nurturing environments. That is why Idaho AEYC continues to be the leading voice for high-quality early learning programs. And thanks to your continued support, we are making a positive impact on thousands of young children throughout Idaho.

2018 Events & Projects

Supporting Early Childhood Educators

The quality of early learning programs is critical to the growth and development of our children. And the most important component of a quality program is the teacher. Idaho AEYC continues to support early childhood educators and provide the tools and resources they need to be successful.

In June, we hosted our annual Professional Development Institute. Over 200 early childhood professionals from across the state converged in Boise to advance their knowledge of high-quality early childhood education and to network with colleagues. In the field of early education, these opportunities are rare and only available when communities come together to support events such as this.

In addition to the conference, we support early childhood educators through our IdahoSTARS project. This past year, we engaged more than 4,000 early childhood educators in the Professional Development System, which gives providers access to training and incentives. Over 30 early care and education workers across Idaho received academic scholarships to help them on their path toward higher education degrees and certificates. It’s critical that our early childhood educators have the professional development they need to best serve our youngest children.

Engaging Families

Idaho AEYC continues to offer our READY! for Kindergarten program to hundreds of families throughout the state. READY! for Kindergarten supports parents in their role as a child’s first and most influential teacher. These workshops encourage parents to talk, sing, read and play with their child in simple ways that foster essential pre-literacy, pre-math and social-emotional skills. Thanks to the Dove Foundation, CapEd Credit Union and individuals like you, we can provide these workshops and additional learning resources to families for free.

Educating Communities and Policymakers

This has been a very informative year for early childhood advocacy. Through a grant project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we learned that over 76% of Idaho voters believe the state should invest in preschool opportunities for children age 3 to 4. This information has been shared several dozen times through media outlets and statewide primary debates, and it is receiving more attention than ever before. Our work through this project has elevated the discussion about the need for high-quality preschool, leading to a solution that involves local communities throughout Idaho. Stay tuned for more information about our Local Preschool Collaborative Initiative.

Thanks so much for your continued support!

Idaho AEYC is committed to promoting high-quality early learning by connecting practice, policy and research. We will continue to advance the early learning profession and advocate for children, families and early childhood professionals. Our goals are big and our journey is long, but together we can ensure that all children in Idaho can thrive in a society dedicated to ensuring they reach their full potential.

By donating to Idaho AEYC, you help to support our work as we:

  • Create equitable access to developmentally appropriate early learning for children from birth to age 8. 

  • Champion early childhood professionals through policy and resources.

  • Mobilize early childhood professionals, parents and community members to advocate for investments in high-quality early learning. 

  • Build a robust early childhood profession that is revered for its valuable contribution to our children and our communities.

Report: Idaho among dwindling number of states choosing not to invest in preschool


While most states enrolled more young children in public preschool, Idaho remains one of seven states opting not to fund early education programs, according to “The State of Preschool 2017” report issued Wednesday by the National Institute of Early Education Research.

“The State of Preschool” annual report is the only national report on state-funded preschool programs. This year’s report, based on 2016-17 academic year data, includes a special section on policies affecting Dual Language Learners, and highlights changes since 2002, when NIEER began tracking state pre-K.

“Recent changes in federal policy – including the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – make it clear that progress in early education depends more than ever on the states,” said NIEER Senior Co-Director Steven Barnett. “Our report highlights which states invest best in their young children and which leave too many children behind. Idaho is one state leaving children behind.” 

Research shows early childhood education can help prepare all children for greater success in elementary school and beyond – but only if quality is high. Enrollment in state-funded preschool programs has more than doubled since 2002, with more than 1.5 million children now enrolled nationwide.

National highlights include:

  • 43 states, D.C. and Guam provide publicly funded preschool to more than 1.5 million children
  • 7 states, including Idaho, do not invest in preschool programs
  • 10 states enroll 50% or more of their 4-year-olds in public pre-K
  • States spent a total of $7.6 billion on pre-K in 2016-17, a 2% increase from the previous year (inflation-adjusted) while real state spending per child enrolled in pre-K decreased
  • Alabama, Michigan and Rhode Island are the only states meeting all 10 new quality standards benchmarks
  • Most states don’t know how many dual language learners are enrolled in pre-K and most do not require pre-K teachers to have any training specific to working with DLLs

“Most developed nations now offer universal preschool – even China has committed to pre-K for every 4-year-old by 2020,” Dr. Barnett said. “Meanwhile, the United States has made little progress … This is no way to compete globally now or in the future. Our first step back to leadership is quality preschool.”

A plan for our youngest learners


Idaho AEYC is a voice for our state’s youngest learners. Our number one strategic priority is high-quality early education, and our goal is for Idaho children from birth to age 8 to have equitable access to developmentally appropriate, quality programs.

For years, Idaho AEYC has advocated for state-funded, high-quality preschool. Idaho continues to be one of a handful of states that does not fund pre-K opportunities for all children, but recent surveys show that voters, parents and early childhood professionals would support such investment. A poll of 355 child care providers and early childhood professionals found that 92% would support state funding for preschool opportunities for Idaho children age 3 to 5. In addition, 76% of voters and 80% of parents with children age 0 to 5 support state investments for preschool.

Idaho AEYC has partnered with parents, lawmakers, the business community and other organizations to develop the Idaho School Readiness Act, which would provide state funding for preschool opportunities. The plan has been introduced to state policymakers but was not a priority this legislative session. Even so, we want you to be aware of the proposal and ways it would impact the early learning community.

The Idaho School Readiness Act is designed to provide voluntary resources to parents of young children, with both in-home and out-of-home options.

The voluntary in-home option would provide developmentally appropriate materials and training opportunities to help parents prepare their children for school.

The voluntary out-of-home option is based on a local collaborative preschool model and has several components: 

  • Communities would come together to create “collaboratives,” which could include local school districts, charter schools, child care programs, existing preschool programs, Head Start programs, local YMCAs, or any entity that would be able to offer a high-quality preschool program for 4-year-olds.
  • Each collaborative would select a lead partner to administer the project and apply to the state for funding. Once approved, Idaho would supply 50% of the funds, and the rest would come from the collaborative.
  • Local school districts, charter schools, for-profit and nonprofit programs could all qualify to become school readiness providers in the community and receive state and local funding if they meet the quality standards set by the State Board of Education and are aligned with Idaho’s Early Learning Guidelines.
  • A priority would be given to 4-year-olds from low-income families.

What does this mean for Idaho’s early childhood community?

  • It could allow for private child care and preschool programs to expand access and receive state funding to support their programs.
  • It could provide professional opportunities for early childhood professionals to work in a school district setting, which could advance compensation opportunities.
  • It could help better connect our early learning programs with K-12, ensuring for a better transition for our children.

Most importantly, state investment in preschool would give more Idaho children access to high-quality early education opportunities so they enter school ready to learn!

A Global View of Idaho's Pre-K Debate

When states debate pre-K, they shouldn’t just look locally. Or even at other states.

They should look globally, says W. Steven Barnett, a national expert in pre-K.

They should consider why Shanghai, China, is creating universal pre-K for 4-year-olds, staffed by college-educated teachers. China is a poorer country that aspires to be a wealthy country, and its leaders see pre-K as part of the answer.

Advocates gather in Capitol to push for state investment in early education


On the heels of a new report showing widespread support among voters for state investment in preschool, advocates took to the Capitol Wednesday to illustrate the importance of high-quality early learning.

Young children from local early learning programs and parents with their children gathered in the Rotunda for BLOCK Fest®, an interactive exhibit developed in Idaho that demonstrates the importance of early learning through play. Rotating through stations featuring blocks of different sizes, children created patterns, built structures and told stories.

“Young children learn through play. They need hands-on experiences to develop the early math, literacy and social skills needed to excel later in life,” said Beth Oppenheimer, executive director of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children. “Block play is just one example of the kinds of active learning experiences that should be a part of every early learning program.”

Idaho voters and parents recognize that these kinds of experiences are crucial for a child’s brain development, according to a report released last month by the public opinion research firm Moore Information and Idaho AEYC. Moore Information conducted a total of 509 interviews for the survey – 406 among a representative sample of registered voters statewide in Idaho, plus an oversample of 103 parents of children age 5 or younger. Nearly seven in ten of the voters and parents surveyed believe the state of Idaho should be doing more to ensure that children begin kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need to do their best in school. Seventy-six percent of voters and 80% of parents said they support state investments in preschool.

“Idaho remains one of a handful of states that does not invest in preschool options for children 3 to 5 years old, and teachers statewide continue to see children entering kindergarten without the foundational skills they need to succeed,” Oppenheimer said. “We need quality, affordable, voluntary preschool options for Idaho families so that children can excel throughout school and throughout life.”

This is the fourth year that Idaho AEYC has hosted an Early Learning Legislative Day at the Capitol. The nonprofit was joined by Idaho Voices for Children, the Idaho Head Start Association, the Twiga Foundation, the Idaho Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Building Villages and the Idaho Commission for Libraries’ Read to Me program.

You're invited! Idaho AEYC and Moore Information to report on Idahoan opinions of state investment in preschool

What: The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, the public opinion research firm Moore Information and select early education advocates will present the results of a statewide poll and discuss interviews with Idaho voters, child care and preschool providers and parents of young children. The research provides insight into Idahoans’ views on state investment in preschool and the challenges many families face in their efforts to locate affordable, high-quality early learning programs.

Who: Beth Oppenheimer, Executive Director of Idaho AEYC
Erik Iverson, CEO of Moore Information

When: Wednesday, Jan. 10th, at 11 a.m.

Where: Idaho State Capitol, Room W-433
700 W. Jefferson St., Boise, ID 83702

Why: Idaho is one of six states that does not invest in preschool options for families with children 3 to 5 years old. Idaho AEYC, Idaho Business for Education, Idaho Voices for Children, Head Start and other partners have joined in an effort to increase access to high-quality pre-K for all Idahoans.

"Experts know that the early years of a child's life are the most critical time for the developing brain,” says Idaho AEYC Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer. “Access to high-quality, affordable preschool options mean that our children are entering kindergarten more prepared to learn and excel. We wanted to find out what Idahoans’ feelings were on pre-K, and the results were astoundingly positive.”

Note: A detailed press kit outlining the research will be available 5 minutes prior to the event. An open Q&A will occur after the presentation.

Contact: Martin Balben, Idaho AEYC Project Director

We are seeking presenters for our June conference!


The 2018 Idaho AEYC Professional Development Institute is coming up June 1 and 2 in Boise. It will be an engaging, educational conference for child care professionals, teachers, providers and advocates for Idaho’s young children.

This year, the focus will be on emergent curriculum and the use of projects in the early childhood environment. We are seeking presenters who can help guide professionals to a better understanding of what emergent curriculum means across a range of ages – from infants to 8-year-olds.

Topics we are interested in exploring include:

  • What is an emergent curriculum/project approach?
  • How to set up the physical environment for emergent curriculum/projects.
  • How emergent curriculum/projects can be used alongside of Idaho’s Early Learning Standards.
  • Assessment and emergent curriculum.
  • Using loose parts as the backbone of the materials in your classroom/center.
  • Emergent curriculum with infants and/or children with special needs.
  • Literacy, math and/or STEAM and emergent curriculum.
  • Classroom management.
  • Planning for an emergent curriculum.
  • Using an emergent curriculum outdoors.

We invite you to submit a 75-minute workshop proposal for sessions in the afternoon on June 1 and any session on June 2, or a two-hour workshop proposal for sessions the morning of June 1. Deadline for submission is January 20.

As a token of our appreciation, presenters will receive complimentary registration the day you present. Co-presenters will receive a 50% discounted registration fee for that day.

Don’t forget to treat yourself this holiday season!


An Idaho AEYC and NAEYC membership is a gift that keeps on giving: You will have access to an array of resources and event discounts all year long to help advance your professional development. And it will ALL make a difference in the lives of the children you work with.  

Here are some of the many benefits you will enjoy as a member:

  • Local and state advocacy and leadership opportunities.
  • Access to member-only grants in Idaho.
  • Discounts at state and regional conferences.
  • Free resume and job posts on Idaho AEYC’s online Idaho ECE Job Connection page.
  • Access to NAEYC digital resources, including ideas for implementing developmentally appropriate practices and fostering strong family engagement.
  • Discounted insurance offerings, including professional liability insurance.
  • A 20% discount on all orders from NAEYC’s online store, as well as access to exclusive member-only resource sales during the year.
  • Exclusive access to member-only sessions at NAEYC events and registration opportunities for member-only events, such as the Public Policy Forum in Washington, DC.

Report details burden of high child care costs

Idaho families frequently find themselves paying more in annual child care costs than they would for a year’s tuition at a state college, according to a new report by Child Care Aware of America. And in all regions of the United States, average fees for an infant in a child care center are more than the average amount that families spend on food and transportation combined.

The 2017 “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care” report, released this week, found that the average annual cost of child care for one Idaho infant can range from $6,500 for home-based care to nearly $7,400 for center-based care. And for two children – an infant and a 4-year-old, as an example – those costs can exceed $13,900 annually. As a point of comparison, the average year’s tuition at a state college is $6,800. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services deems child care “affordable” at or below 7% of household income. In Idaho, married parents pay 10.7% of income for center-based infant care, and those costs jump to 33.1% of income for single parents. Married parents at the poverty line can see between 62% and 70% of their income going toward child care fees.

“A state preschool system could help alleviate some of the financial burden of child care for families, but Idaho does not offer state-funded preschool programs for 3- to 5-year-olds,” said Beth Oppenheimer, executive director for the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children. “We have a lot of work to do to ensure that every Idaho family has access to affordable, high-quality child care and early learning.”

Here are some additional findings from the 2017 report:

  • An estimated $28.9 billion in wages is lost annually by working families who do not have access to affordable child care and paid family and medical leave. 
  • Adjusted for inflation, U.S. businesses lose approximately $4.4 billion annually due to employee absenteeism as the result of child care breakdowns.
  • Families in the United States are overburdened by the high cost of child care. About 60 percent of funding for child care in the United States comes directly from parents. In comparison, families pay only about 23 percent of the cost of a public college education, with the remainder subsidized by state and federal funds.
  • Providers aren’t paid enough to cover the high costs of child care for their own kids. In every state plus the District of Columbia, the cost of center-based care for two children costs more than half of average child care provider income.
  • 65% of parents’ work schedules are affected by child care challenges an average of 7.5 times over a six-month period.

The nonprofit Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) is dedicated to advancing Idaho’s early learning profession and advocating for children and families. The organization was founded in 1984 and is headquartered in Boise, Idaho. Learn more at

Child Care Aware® of America is based in Arlington, Va. The organization’s mission is to advance a child care system that effectively serves all families; supports children’s growth, development and educational advancement; and creates positive economic impact for families and communities. Learn more at

Should Idaho Accept the Gift of Technology for 4-year-olds?


This past week, Superintendent Ybarra brought together education leaders to unveil a proposal that would bring a free technology program to Idaho for all 4-year-olds. The program, called SmartyAnts, was presented as a free product that would provide every 4-year-old in Idaho "early childhood education."

As the executive director of Idaho AEYC, I was invited to the presentation and was able to hear first-hand about the program. Following the presentation, I had the opportunity to speak to Idaho Ed News and share my thoughts. I encourage you to read the article here.

Idaho AEYC would like to remind our members that as your professional association, we are committed to advocating for high-quality, developmentally appropriate early childhood education. We are not interested in supporting a computer based, technology program as Idaho's only solution to early learning.

We would also like to share with you messaging, resources and NAEYC's position statement on Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth to Age 8.

We encourage you to share your thoughts on the use of screen time for our youngest children and the use of technology as the only solution to early childhood education. We are currently collecting comments that we will share on behalf of our members.

In addition, we will be hosting a conference call on Thursday, Dec. 7th at 12:00 noon (MST) with Idaho AEYC members who are interested to discuss an action plan to move forward. Please mark your calendars and will will send out call-in information Monday.

As Idaho AEYC can and will continue to be a voice for you and high quality early childhood education, we also recognize that many of you, as experts in the field need to speak out. We will do everything we can to create opportunities for you to do so.

As always, feel free to contact me at any time.

Thank you for all you do for our youngest children and their families!


Beth Oppenheimer
Executive Director