From Lori’s Laptop

From Lori’s Laptop

We Can See The Future From Here!

“Thank you for visiting my monthly blog where I share what motivates me to ensure school readiness, build strong futures and empower families living in the Treasure Valley!” Lori Fascilla, Executive Director


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Preschool The Idaho Way

Opportunity gaps start early for children living in poverty. A child who enters kindergarten unprepared is 25% more likely NOT to finish high school and 60% more likely to skip college. With only half of the children in Idaho entering kindergarten prepared we have work to do. Of those unprepared at least half are living in low to moderate-income families without access to quality early care and education. 

This fall we are opening the Garden City Preschool the Idaho Way morning program for children 4/5 who will enter kindergarten in the fall of 2021. It is our aim to move the dial for 20 underserved children in our community and to ensure school readiness for future students that might not otherwise thrive without a program like this. We can’t wait to share the excitement and the program from a distance of course. 

Our centers all opened almost 30 days ago now and it’s been a learning curve for all. The children and teachers adjusted quickly and parents have all been amazing by keeping us informed, wearing masks when dropping off, and taking extra precautions when illness is suspected. The children are learning and thriving even with the changes, and masks don’t seem to be an issue anymore. While they can be uncomfortable, our staff is committed to keeping the children and community safe that we serve. We have the most incredible teachers and directors in the Valley!

We wish you a safe and peaceful holiday and that you stay healthy while enjoying some quality family time with those you love most.

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We Need YOU!

Irish Proverb: May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far.

We are deep into Strategic Planning at the present time and we need YOU to help us out. You have great ideas about what we are about, what we could be about and what we should do about it. That’s a lot of abouts!

Here (insert in the word Here) is a survey to give us your input. We are in the final year of a five-year plan that we did in 2015 and continued to update throughout the ensuing years. We are proud of the progress we’ve made but recognize too that we need to keep responding to the community need, the needs of our teachers, parents, and kids and the need to continue the great work we’ve been doing now for 30 years.

Please take a moment of your time to let us know what you think to help inform our next five years. Goals are just dreams with deadlines, so let’s get some deadlines on the radar and make Giraffe Laugh even better and broader.

Thank you for your time. Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Happy spring!

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The Importance of Investing in a Child

February is the month of love. One thing we love around here is our Brain Builders aka Teachers. Every day we as a community of teachers, parents, and citizens are building the brains of our little ones. We love the work we are able to do and encourage parents and citizens to understand the importance of the baby brain in those first five years.

When an infant is born, they have a fully functioning heart that lasts a lifetime (this is the month of love, after all, so we must include hearts) but their brains are only 25% developed. By the time they are three their brains are 80% developed and by five years old when they head off to school, their brains are 90% developed. We have an incredible opportunity to impact each child’s brain and their ultimate outcomes with our work and in our daily lives. 

Children are important. When we, at Giraffe Laugh, say, “We can see the future from here.” we truly mean it. Children are our future and they will be carrying us into a future someday that is unimaginable right now. I want the best for them and I know you do as well. 

Idaho is one of only four states that does not provide any funding for early education. As a result, we are also very low on the national level as a state that is succeeding in terms of education. Investments in early education return anywhere from a $7 to $17 return due to less remedial education, fewer scrapes with the law, drug abuse or alcohol dependency, better health, higher graduation rates, more go-on rates to other education, and less teen pregnancy. All of this contributes greatly to breaking the cycle of generational poverty. Education is key to accomplishing this for our future generations. 

I’ve included some resources to help the conversation keep going for those that wish to learn more. The first is a film about the developing brain and the second is a trailer and website on a film about early education in the United States. 

Thank you for your investment in early childhood in our state. You’re doing great things and with your help, we are all building great brains every day! For this alone, we love you and appreciate you beyond compare. 

Center on the Developing Child:  with a really cool video on brain development. No Small Matter is a movie that was recently shown at the Idaho State Capital about early childhood education in the United States. There will be other events, so please watch for opportunities to see it. We will also post on our social media sites about it. 

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Kindness Matters

As we close out this decade and our 30th year of serving families we are anxious to look to the future with 20/20 vision. But for now, we’d like to bask in the kindness and generosity of strangers that are abundant this season. We had a wonderful luncheon with many generous donors, we have anxious families being “adopted” to make Christmas dreams come true, and we have hunger being abated with an abundance of food donated and packaged by loving people. All of these acts of kindness and giving makes me aware every year of what a wonderful community we live in.  I hope that your holidays are full of holiday miracles but if it’s not what you’d expected or hoped for, I hope that you find the kindness of strangers to be comforting and that you remember to be gentle with yourself. The holidays can come with so many expectations of joy and harmony when the reality is that it’s just another time of year for some.  The best present one can give is their presence so if you feel you have very little to give, give someone your time, a listening ear, a special phone call or a card.  I can’t express how grateful I am to all of you for changing lives that I get to see every day. We are truly honored by your generosity and kindness and we hope that you realize how important you are to our mission of ensuring school readiness, empowering families and building strong futures.  We are excited for the next 30 years, but for now, we will bask in the gentle glow of generosity that we find ourselves surrounded by during this holiday season. May your holiday be peaceful and full of as much happiness as we know you deserve. Thank you.
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Holiday Cheers!

Thanksgiving is upon us, and with it comes the joy of the holidays and the promise they bring. For most of us, we approach this time of year with anticipation and images of our family gathering at the table with an abundance of food and fun. For some families though, the reality is there isn’t enough of either food or fun. The worry of wondering where the next meal will come from, nonetheless a special meal for Thanksgiving, Hanukah or Christmas weighs heavily on those who don’t have enough. With this in mind, Giraffe Laugh offers families a special holiday basket, once in November and once in December to take this concern away and make the holidays brighter. If you’d like to be a part of the solution, please click on November to help with Thanksgiving and on December to help with Hanukah or Christmas. For all those that attended the Futures Begin Here Luncheon this year, thank you! It was a roaring success, and you made some children’s futures so bright with your contributions and commitment to providing quality early care and education to as many children as possible in our community. Pictured are some Giraffe Laugh students, present and past who have futures so bright they’ve gotta wear shades! It’s never too late to get involved. If you weren’t able to make it we hope you’ll still help us make futures bright for cute kids like these. Join us in supporting with a year-end donation here. Happy holidays to all of you and know we are grateful for all of you and thankful that you’re in our lives and part of our work.  
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Autumn Leaves and Pumpkins Please

Three distinct things happen in autumn that makes me love October. One, the weather cools and while I don’t like the shorter days, I do like the crisp mornings that require sweaters and fires in the hearth. The second sure sign of autumn is the changing of the leaves from a bright green to a burnished orange or red. When the trees are on fire with color my camera never stops clicking to capture the beauty and power of nature. The last thing is Halloween. I love to hear little ones planning what they will “be” and hearing adults get excited about haunted houses and forests, along with the smell of pumpkins being carved to scare the spirits away. If you’re surprised I didn’t say Pumpkin Spiced Latte’s then it might surprise you to know I’ve never had one, so I may not know what I’m missing. When I think about our 30 years with Giraffe Laugh, I do recall many falls and many a parade around Hyde Park, the neighboring areas near our Grand Ave. location and the fun we had with families and children trick or treating. Some of those little ones are now herding their own broods in the parades at Giraffe Laugh on Halloween and the cycle of memories and fun continues. Those days are some of my favorite moments and traditions. Last year was the second year of the Alsager/Yoest Haunted House to benefit Giraffe Laugh. Just like that, a new tradition was born and it’s stellar! For those out there that also love Halloween and all of the thrills it brings, this is for you. It is NOT for younger children and those under 14 need to be accompanied by an adult and prepared to calm some bad dreams that night. For those that are interested there is no charge to attend (and believe me it’s an event!) however, they request that you bring canned goods and/or make a monetary donation. So grab your friends and if you have a sitter that night or wish to brave the “show” with younger ones, drop by before the party you’ll be heading to and join us. There will be a fire in the cul de sac and fun times for all. Costumes are not required but highly accepted and add to the fun. You can find more information HERE or sign up to help at this event HERE. Happy autumn and happy Halloween everyone!
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Playful Days and Warm Nights

Sack races, tag, and jump rope were the staple of my childhood summers. Sunscreen wasn’t a thing yet, so we smelled of fresh grass or sweat and sported pink cheeks as we panted through the heat. My mom made Kool-Aid which we’d gulp greedily on the back porch finding a sliver of shade to hide in. We’d capture tadpoles and observed as they transformed into frogs while the fields nearby grew long stalks of corn. The days were long and nightfall brought pesky mosquitos as twilight gently emerged. Our bodies grew, our minds were busy and the memories are mostly fond.  There was that baseball game when my brother hit me on my forehead, full backswing with a bat, while I was the catcher. My parents were going out to a much-deserved-time-alone-dinner, away from their five children, until they heard everyone screaming. My mom in her dress and heels and my dad in his sports jacket came running out to find me knocked out with a giant goose egg on my forehead. I don’t believe they went to dinner that night. A family cabin in Coeur d’ Alene is where we learned to work hard as my parents enlisted us children and built a cabin on the lake. Mosquito bites, rusty nails through our feet, too many hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire were common. We were occupied by swimming, fishing, and skiing behind a wooden boat. We were enchanted with the freedom and promise that summer brings, where everyone, children and parents, are relaxed and softened by the sun and warmth it brings to our lives. We were occupied by the immense amount of time we had to explore and find our happy. As summer heat soars and days begin shortening, it gives way to fall and school bells. Tanned, tired bodies, head off with pencils and lunchboxes to learn how much they’ve forgotten since early June unless of course, they’ve participated in a summer program in between. Only about 30% of Idaho children have access to programs during the summer months and we at Giraffe Laugh are proud to provide a quality, enriching summer program to children who might otherwise not have access.  Sending children into the world with the skills they need to be successful academically, socially and emotionally is our primary purpose. Doing this while holding onto the promise of a brighter future is our privilege to provide. We thank the teachers at our summer program that enriched the lives of so many and made it possible for 35 children to enter school ready, confident and with a bag full of memories to sustain them until next year. It will be here before we know it.
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30 Years

“To be good and to do good, is all we have to do.” – John Adams

As we celebrate another birthday of our great country, we also celebrate 30 years serving children and families at Giraffe Laugh. We wish to welcome all those who joined our 30th Anniversary Society at our Celebration in June. It allows us to continue doing good in this world to educate our youngest learners.  We heard tales from the past from teachers, alum’s and our leadership. We talked about the future and we talked about the past. We displayed our 30th Time Capsule that we will open up in 30 years! There is still time to participate with your feedback on what you believe the future will look like and share your stories. Click here to take our survey. 30 years is a long time yet it also happened in the blink of an eye. The day to day tasks morph into events, graduations, Luau’s, Hyde Park Street Fair, more events, Santa Claus, food baskets, babies being born, new preschoolers, toddlers, and school-age children until the rhythm of an entire year has been played out. The years then pile up and before we know it we will be here again, celebrating 60 years. My hope is that by then we are able, with the help of the State of Idaho, to provide preschool to all children in Idaho. The CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries, the largest builder of military ships, states “The lack of early education in our country is the nation’s top national security issue. Study after study shows that the most powerful and cost-effective way to make our children lifelong learners is to start them on that path before school — when they are 2 and 3 and 4 years old.” The United States ranks third from the bottom among 36 industrialized countries in preschool enrollment, meaning that we will be competing with individuals who have had years of learning before we even begin. Idaho falls behind even more than the national average. As we celebrate 30 years of success in our community, we are excited to see where the next 30 takes us. There is an opportunity to become more involved and to join our 30th Anniversary Society by donating $30 for 30 months. A cool mug is involved and even a better, brighter future for children right here in our City. For more information, follow this link. Have a very safe and happy holiday. Lori
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A Mothers Time

As a mother of three May is one of my favorite months. We don’t just celebrate Mother’s Day at my house but also my birthday and wedding anniversary. It’s one of the rare times that all eyes are on me; the daughter, the wife, the mom. We as women tend to shift attention away from ourselves to concentrate on our kids, our jobs, our families, our friends, and our volunteer work. How lovely is it though to discover how treasured we are in the world? How lovely to recall all that being a wife and mother means. I recall a time that I was frustrated I had to rock the baby to sleep and now they aren’t even in the same house to hug. I recall a time when I didn’t want to feed hungry people, and now I invite them to come over and look forward to feeding them. I recall a time that I just wished the house was quiet and I could watch my show in peace. Now I record shows so we can watch them together. I recall wishing I didn’t have to watch another Disney movie, and now my husband and I attend them together with no kids in tow. I recall a time that I just wanted one minute in the bathroom alone and now that always happens and I kind of like that. I recall a time I hated changing diapers and tying shoes and zipping zippers and finding mittens and yanking on boots and hollering, “It’s time to go!” Now I only do those things for me and it’s so simple and fast and how did I ever do all of that? I recall a time that I just wanted to snuggle with them a little longer and they squirmed out of my arms to run and play or explore the world. I recall a time I was so proud of them and wanted to yell to the world, “That kid is mine.” I still do that thankfully. I recall a time that I held them close and whispered all of my dreams for them, and now so many of those dreams have come true. I recall a time I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have grown children and seeing that we’d done a good job. Now I can see that every day and it feels amazing. I hope that your Mother’s day is blessed and full of whatever makes it special. I hope you recall that none of it lasts forever but as it changes, it’s still good, it’s still motherhood and it’s still important. Enjoy!
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Our Hope

April is upon us and with it comes Child Abuse Awareness month. It’s a difficult subject but an important one that requires careful attention. Parents or other adults living in a household are the number one abuser of small children.
  • The highest rates of child abuse occur under age one (23.1 per 1,000 children).1
  • More than one-quarter (27.3%) of victims were younger than 3 years.1
  • Almost 70% of children that are victims of child abuse are under the age of four.2
Parenting is difficult and can be challenging and adults need support through the early years in order to prevent child abuse. Some important strategies are parents understanding child development so that expectations are realistic. Part of the reality of an infant and younger child is that they cry. If parents don’t understand that, children can be at risk for abuse. Through the Strengthening Families Institute and the Idaho Community Foundation, Giraffe Laugh has been able to provide a crying plan to our parents. These plans are designed to not only inform parents about crying with statements such as babies cry, some more than others, and babies cry because they can’t talk or babies don’t cry because they are mad at you. Get your plan here: These simple statements not only educate but beg the question, what can I do about it? The next part of a crying plan has four elements. 1)  Check the baby’s basic needs (with a list of things to look for), 2) Try soothing your baby (with tips on how to do that), 3) Statements about if your baby won’t stop crying including, it is okay if they cry, stay calm, and never shake a baby, 4) Find back up. Find family and friends you can call if needed because your baby won’t stop. Put them on your crying plan and share it with them. Make copies of your plan and hand it out to people caring for your baby and be sure they understand who they can call in step four. The crying plan empowers parents and ensures they not only understand crying will happen but that they know what to do about it. Our hope is that no child is ever abused and this is just one tool that provides us with a hope that we can move the dial on statistics and strengthen families in a simple, yet meaningful way. Please feel free to share the plan with family and friends and join us in preventing child abuse. I hope you all enjoy your spring with your little ones and that our community can work together to keep all kids and families safe and healthy.  
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