Giraffe Laugh receives grant from Boise Regional Realtors Foundation

Giraffe Laugh receives grant from Boise Regional Realtors Foundation

In October 2017, the Boise Regional Realtors Foundation Board selected Giraffe Laugh to receive a $2,000 grant. The grant will help fund scholarships for Giraffe Laugh families, including the homeless. About 52% of Giraffe Laugh families receive some sort of assistance from us, including scholarships for early childhood education and care, food pantries, parent resources and more. We appreciate these real estate professionals for their generous support and giving back to our community!

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Giraffe Laugh Receives CHIF Grant From St. Luke’s

In January 2017 Giraffe Laugh receives $4,840 grant from St. Luke’s through their Community Health Improvement Fund (CHIF). The fund supports community health improvement activities, and Giraffe Laugh has exciting plans with the grant. The CHIF grant makes it possible for Giraffe Laugh children to participate in swim lessons, gymnastics and ballet at little or no cost, providing access for everyone regardless of income. Giraffe Laugh’s Executive Director Lori Fascilla says, “Our missions very much align. St. Luke’s is committed to improving the health of people in the communities, and at Giraffe Laugh, we believe a healthy foundation begins during childhood.”

About Giraffe Laugh: We are a non-profit organization, providing early childhood education and nurturing to over 200 Treasure Valley children daily by ensuring school readiness, empowering families and building strong futures.

About St. Luke’s: As the only Idaho-based, not-for-profit health system, St. Luke’s is dedicated to their mission “To improve the health of people in the communities we serve.” That means not only treating people when they are sick or hurt but helping them be as healthy as possible.

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Thank you, Amber Murray

It is with mixed emotions that we announce Amber Murray, Donor Relations Officer, is moving on in her career from Giraffe Laugh. Amber has accepted a position with St. Alphonsus RMC that is a wonderful opportunity for her and her family. We are so proud of her and extremely grateful for the past ten years that she has dedicated to our mission and families. She will be missed, dearly. In recognition of her time here, we will be having a farewell reception. Please stay tuned for details about this event so you have the opportunity to visit with Amber and recognize her accomplishments!

My beautiful picture

We wish her the very best in her new, upcoming adventures in life.


Her position as the Donor Relations Director will be available in June. If you or anyone you know is interested in a fund development position with a growing, active organization that ensures school readiness, empowers families and builds strong futures, please submit a resume to The job announcement is attached.

Donor Relations Director Job Listing


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Idaho Rally for Early Education

“I was in and out of jail until Head Start came along,” Strength said before Wednesday’s early education rally at the Idaho State Capitol.

The rally, organized by Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer, involved several guest speakers, including Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Reps. Hy Kloc and Christy Perry, who urged citizens to vote for lawmakers who would invest in affordable public early education.

The rally was part of Early Learning Legislative Day at the capitol, which also consisted of presentations to the House Education Committee and a BLOCK Fest, where children demonstrated learning through play.

“You guys showing up is the first step,” Kloc told rally-goers. “Now you need to talk to us. I really don’t want to be the last in the nation for early education.”

Little is working with lawmakers on legislation to support the state’s goal of 60 percent of people 25 to 34 years old going onto a college education or obtaining some sort of certificate. To accomplish that, he said,“we can’t do it without talking about early learning.”

Idaho is one of five states not investing in early education for the public, Oppenheimer said.

“Half of our kids are entering kindergarten that are not prepared to learn to read,” she said. “We think the state needs to invest so that all children have opportunities to start kindergarten that very first day ready to learn.”

She told the House Education Committee about the importance of brain development and its effect on education.

“The brain develops 90 percent by the time a child reaches 5 years old,” Oppenheimer said. “We as a community need to do everything we can to provide those opportunities and resources for them so that they’re ready to go to school.”

During the BLOCK Fest, children played with blocks of all shapes and colors in the capitol rotunda, demonstrating their learning processes through social engagement and fun.

Strength said that, enrolling in Head Start, his daughters were able to read Harry Potter in second grade — novels that require a sixth- to eighth-grade reading level.

His wife went to school to eventually become a Head Start teacher. Head Start helped Strength find the confidence to “be a better man, be a better father” and pursue his own education.

“Head Start’s in its 51st year now,” Strength said. “You don’t last that long unless you’re doing something right.”

Watch the Video here >>

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Community Development Block Grants Impacting Giraffe Laugh

If your neighborhood is in need of some TLC, the City of Boise hands out $4 to $5 million a year to supportive services for low-income communities.

They’re called community development block grants, a combination of federal and local moneys. The city of Boise uses the funds to relieve its homeless and affordable housing needs.

Giraffe Laugh Early Learning Center is a partner of community development block grants. It’s funded in part by the grant, receiving $25,000 in 2015.

Jen Hamblin has been a single mother to her five-year-old son, Asher. She’s enrolled him in Giraffe Laugh so she can work and go to school to become a teacher.

“He just gets to do all that stuff that I sometimes wouldn’t have time or money for,” said Hamblin.

Hamblin is living off student loans, and child care typically isn’t cheap.

Giraffe Laugh eases that burden by providing scholarships based on family income.

“They never turn you away for lack of ability to pay for it,” she said.

Lori Fascilla, executive director of Giraffe Laugh Early Learning Center, says it helps uplift families out of poverty.

“It enables them to get housing and jobs and really get on their feet and then they would move to the next level and begin paying a little bit. We believe in educational justice. We want low income families to have access to the same quality that everyone else does,” Fascilla said.

As families become more independent, they’re able to contribute more to tuition.

“It’s really exciting to see families move through those stages of self-sufficiency because they got a hand up when they needed it,” Fascilla said.

Right now there are over 500 families on Giraffe Laugh’s waiting list who are in need of a hand-up, so like Jen and Asher, they can have a brighter future.

“Really it’s just giving me the opportunity to do what I want to do that’s going to be best for Asher and I,” said Hamblin.

Terry Reilly Health Services is another partner with community development block grants.

The medical center received over $82,000 in 2015. Those funds help match the cost to healthcare with the income and resources a family has.

“We do it on a sliding fee scale, so we figure out how much they can contribute as well to the cost of healthcare, and then the funds allow us to make up the difference so we can make sure they get good quality healthcare,” said Heidi Traylor, executive officer of Terry Reilly Health Services.

2016’s action plan was approved in July and is set to begin in October.

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Idaho Business Review

Giraffe Laugh’s waiting list grows as parents search for affordable care

By: Benton Alexander Smith November 13, 2015

The low-cost Treasure Valley child care provider Giraffe Laugh opened a fourth center in September, allowing it to clear 75 positions from its long waiting list.

The new center, at 3641 Market Place Lane, is the company’s largest, but even with the new building, Giraffe Laugh still has more than 500 children on its list.

The company can’t get ahead of the demand because the area lacks affordable quality child centers, said Beth Oppenheimer, executive director of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children.

“Quality comes at a cost. Having a good teacher-to-child ratio, making sure your child gets nutritious snacks and isn’t just watching TV all day; that all costs money,” Oppenheimer said. “It’s a vicious circle so we have programs like the YMCA and Giraffe Laugh that have assistance to help families cover the cost.”

The average cost of child care in the Treasure Valley is between $500 and $800 a month, and few centers can afford to offer assistance, said Idaho Stars child care resource specialist Amanda Mills.

To help families afford its care, Giraffe Laugh breaks its clients into four income-based groups. The higher-income clients don’t receive any aid, and the lowest-income can have their cost reduced by 60 percent to 80 percent. Under extreme circumstances, a family can receive free care for a short period of time.

“We have families who are homeless,” Giraffe Laugh executive director Lori Fascilla said. “How do you look for a job if you don’t have childcare and how do you get childcare if you don’t have money?”

The cost of attending Giraffe Laugh ranges from $300 to $800 depending on the age of the child and the time of day they are cared for. The cost of attendance pays for breakfast, lunch and a snack and for extracurricular activities such as zoo trips and ballet classes with Idaho Ballet.

All Giraffe Laugh attendees can participate in the activities.

“We help out wherever we can,” Fascilla said. “We have a food pantry where parents can take something home for the night or the weekend. We also have a diaper storage where we store toiletries, paper towels and bowls. The kinds of things food stamps can’t purchase.”

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