There are so many competing priorities for new parents, which results in the necessity to navigate a steep learning curve immediately. From the minute that bundle of joy arrives at home, one of the chief concerns is how to ensure the child has the best start in every area possible: emotionally, spiritually and educationally. What do parents and others need to know to give their children an educational advantage? There are mountains of research, websites, books and complicated academic research available covering the most current information on the topic. Thorough review of this breadth of information would necessitate parents’ and caregivers’ devoting hours of study to understand the best ways to educate their children. The state of Idaho can help to create a repository of information and research that’s easily accessible to parents and caregivers.

Nearly half of Idaho’s children are entering kindergarten without the fundamental academic skills needed to succeed. Unfortunately, Idaho is one of only four states in the nation that is not using state funding for early childhood education programs. Parents, grandparents, daycares and other caregivers are left to fend for themselves when it comes to early childhood education.

Parents and caregivers need a more streamlined place to access necessary guidance for educating their children. It’s time for educators and stakeholders to support collecting and distributing the best data available that can be rolled out to parents, daycares, schools and other caregivers. A repository of information with tools would provide instruction on utilization of best teaching methods plus skills required for optimal development and preparation for children. This would be invaluable. The repository would include the latest research on the science of children’s brain development, tools to create interactive learning environments and the best practices for teaching young children.

Idahoans know there are numerous benefits to early childhood education, and they want the resources to make it happen. When we make meaningful investments in early childhood education, we give Idaho’s children a solid foundation that will enrich their opportunities for educational and professional success. Studies indicate that when we prioritize the educational opportunities for our children the results are substantial: higher graduation rates, higher earnings, less crime, less need for public assistance, higher numbers of home ownership, and the list goes on. One of the best things we can do to increase our economic stability is to invest in education, so we can have highly educated workers to fill our future jobs.

Parents and caregivers understand and appreciate the importance of educating our young children, but they are not being given the resources they need. An important component of caring for a child is bolstering his or her educational success. We need to make sure that parents have all the tools readily available to give complete care to their children. Our children and Idaho’s future depend on it.

Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, and Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, serve in the Idaho Senate.

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