Giraffe Laugh is leading the Garden City Early Learning Collaborative and it is made up of people in Garden City representing business, education, healthcare, faith-based groups, government, city officials, and early education. By all working together toward a common goal of elevating the conversation of early education and increasing preschool opportunities for young children, we are buoyed by the response from our community to make that happen. We opened a preschool during the pandemic, and the results are phenomenal for the children in that program that put them on track to be reading on age level by 3rd grade.
Today Idaho had an opportunity to accept a $6M grant from the Federal Government that began last year during Trump’s administration (PDG B-5) to further explore what supports parents need in Idaho, House Bill 226. As a result of the first year’s grant, 16 collaboratives were formed throughout The State of Idaho to determine what voters want and what the actual needs are throughout the state. This grant received bipartisan support including Governor Little, Senator Mike Crapo, and Senator Jim Risch along with many other Idahoans.
What the collaboratives discovered is there are childcare deserts all over our state including Boise and Garden City. This was before we were hit with a pandemic! With the recent closing of 100 centers and in-home providers since this January and an additional 121 closing since September of 2020, our industry is being decimated. The $6M would’ve brought another $2M per year for the next three years to implement some of the strategic plans each collaborative has designed in their own communities.
Each collaborative is unique and community-driven so that each area of our state is building what works for them. It is not a prescribed curriculum or model. Plans are built completely on partnerships, knowing what employers, early educators, and especially parents want and need, then building that. They all look different, and they ALL have parents at the forefront as a child’s first teacher and children at the forefront with needs being met.
I’ll let you discover for yourself why the bill was voted down, but needless to say, this does not bode well for young children and families across Idaho. Click this link to hear other reasons the bill was rejected.
I know everyone reading this cares deeply about young children and their preparedness for kindergarten. I know all of you are passionate about seeing children succeed.
I hope all of you will contact your representative and let them know what you think.
March is Women’s History Month, and I hope we honor all women and the job of motherhood, no matter what form that takes, in the home and outside of it or both. Parents are a child’s first teacher, and we honor that at Giraffe Laugh. Our job is not to take theirs, but rather to complement it and provide support where needed while building on children’s emotional, social and academic strengths and skills.
I dream of a day that every family has what they need to thrive and that all of their children are ready, prepared, and eager for school and life ahead. We are fortunate to take part in that journey and hope to be able to continue doing that for many years to come.
Learn more about Giraffe Laugh by visiting https://www.giraffelaugh.org/about/.