A new report out today from an array of Idaho child-advocacy groups finds that less than 54 percent of Idaho children are ready to learn to read when they enter kindergarten; 57 percent of Idaho kids who are younger than school-age have all their available parents working; preschool enrollments for Idaho 3- and 4-year-olds vary widely around the state and are below the national average; and Idaho is one of fewer than a dozen states that doesn’t invest in early childhood education, other than for special-needs children.
“Early learning is key to a child’s development. It also has far-reaching social impact,” says the report, entitled “Building Strong Foundations: Early Learning, Strong Communities and a Strong Economy.” It says, “Investing in the education of our youngest children decreases later social costs for remediation, juvenile detention, and crime. … Early learning programs, especially for disadvantaged children, yield high returns on investment.”
The release of the report, from KidsCount, Idaho Voices for Children, the Idaho Head Start Association and the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, coincides with today’s “Early Learning Legislative Day at the Statehouse,” which drew crowds of early childhood experts and advocates to the Capitol today. They packed standing-room-only meetings of both the House and Senate Education committees today, which both heard reports on early childhood learning. You can read the full report online here.