Giving Children Access to Books and Food Over Summer Break

Press Release

Marsing, ID – Children can’t learn if they are hungry. Couple it with the fact that many children in Idaho do not have access to resources, such as books, in their home to help them learn. To take it a step further, these issues are even more challenging during the summer months.

Food insecurity and summer learning loss are two critical challenges we face in our communities. In Idaho, one out of every five children are food insecure. In addition, research shows that in many of our communities, there are no books available at children´s homes. With no access to books, children can lose up to three months of what they achieved during the school year.

But, this summer is different in one Idaho community. Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) is partnering with the Marsing School District to provide new books to children attending the Marsing School District Summer Meal Program. Twice a week when children get their lunch, they will also receive a couple of age-appropriate books they can take home and keep.

  • Monday, July 11, Idaho AEYC´s Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer will be at the Marsing City Park to engage with the community and share how important reading is to prepare children for school and prevent summer learning loss.
  • JOIN US! July 11, from 11:45am-12:15pm at Marsing City Park on the corner of 2nd Ave. West and 2nd St. North, Marsing, ID.
  • READ Up is offered on Monday and Friday at two locations: Marsing Housing Authority from 11-11:30am and at Marsing City Park from 11:45am-12:15pm.

The free books are part of Idaho AEYC´s READ Up program, an initiative of The Children´s Reading Foundation brought to Idaho through a grant that is reaching 18 school districts throughout the state. Over 15,000 books, including dozens of bilingual titles, will be distributed this summer through partnerships with summer meal programs, libraries, health services agencies, Head Start programs and others. For the complete schedule, see the READ Up Calendar

According to the 2014 Census, in Marsing, Idaho more than 25% of the population under 18 years of age lives in poverty and data from the State Department of Education shows that over 50% of the children enter school without the basic literacy skills for a successful first year of school.

The nonprofit Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) is dedicated to advancing Idaho's early learning profession and advocating for children and families. The organization was founded in 1986 and is headquartered in Boise, Idaho. Learn more at

Idaho AEYC Governing Board Elect New Leadership and Members

Press Release

Boise, ID – The Idaho Association for Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) Governing Board is pleased to announce Genie Sue Weppner will become President on July 1, 2016. Weppner served as President-Elect prior to taking this role and has a long history of advocating for early learning. Before retiring, Weppner managed the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Idaho Child Care Program (ICCP) and has over 15 years of experience working in the private non-profit sector.

“I’m thrilled about the opportunity to continue my work advocating for quality early learning,” says Genie Sue Weppner. “I’m especially pleased we have expanded our board leadership statewide and am hopeful the new energy will help transform early childhood education in Idaho.”

At its June 2016 meeting, the Idaho AEYC Governing Board expanded by welcoming seven newly-elected members and five new Local Affiliate Representatives. The new members’ experience and expertise will help the organization increase its impact on the early learning field and build-up statewide representation. Members are elected to serve 2-year terms.

“We are honored to have such a talented and passionate group of statewide individuals leading Idaho AEYC’s efforts to support improving early learning throughout Idaho,” says Idaho AEYC Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer. “We are very excited to get to work and become the next state to invest in our youngest children’s future.”

Newly-Elected Governing Board Members:

Danielle Taniguchi, Treasurer (Kuna, Idaho)
Taniguchi is Assistant Controller for Oppenheimer Companies, Inc. She earned two Bachelors of Business Administration, one in International Business and one in Human Resource Management from Boise State University.

Ruth Calnon, Member-at-Large (Boise, Idaho)
Calnon is a Family Engagement Consultant with the Boise Independent School District and has worked in the education field for over 35 years. Ruth holds an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instructions from Boise State University.

Janet Davis, Member-at-Large (Boise, Idaho)
Davis is the Co-Owner of Early Learning Children’s Center in Boise and has over 28 years of quality early care and education in the profession. Janet has advanced graduate studies in Early Childhood Education and a B.A. in Elementary Education from Boise State University.

Jessica Gunder, Member-at-Large (Boise, Idaho)
Gunder currently serves as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho. She received her J.D. from the University of Missouri School of Law, graduating with honors.

Beth Price, Ph.D., Member-at-Large (Moscow, Idaho)
Price is an Associate Professor/Program Coordinator, Early Childhood Development and Education, at the University of Idaho in Moscow and has been in the field of early childhood for 33 years. She has a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Idaho.

Chase Ropelato, Member-at-Large (Boise, Idaho)
Ropelato is a Human Resource Specialist for Idaho Power in the Boise Corporate Headquarters. He earned his B.S. in Management and Human Resources at the University of Idaho.

Jennifer Ross, Member-at-Large (Hayden, Idaho)
Ross is currently a Center Manager for the Community Colleges of Spokane Early Head Start and is a state-approved trainer for child care professionals. Ross holds a M.Ed. in Special Education (Early Childhood) from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

New Local Affiliate Representative Members:

Tonya Sears, Local Affiliate Representative-North Idaho (Post Falls, Idaho)
Sears is the Classroom Lead Teacher at the North Idaho College Head Start. She has a M.S. in Family and Consumer Studies from the University of Idaho.

Anji Armagost, Local Affiliate Representative-Treasure Valley (Boise, Idaho)
Armagost is serving as the Director for Nutrition Works, a sponsoring organization for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). She graduated with a Master’s in Business Administration from Boise State University.

Ellen Neff, Local Affiliate Representative-Snake River (Twin Falls, Idaho)
Neff is an Associate Professor in the Early Childhood Education Program at the College of Southern Idaho and has her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Studies with an Infant Mental Health endorsement.

Jennifer Patterson, Official Alternate, Local Affiliate Representative-Snake River (Jerome, Idaho)
Patterson currently works in the CSI Early Childhood Education Program as the Coordinator for the Toddler Lab, Preschool Lab, Kindergarten Lab and all-day Early Learning Center. She graduated from Idaho State University with her Blended Certificate in Early Childhood Education.

Lynnie Pahis Anderson, Local Affiliate Representative – Eastern Idaho (Idaho Falls, Idaho)
Pahis Anderson is a partner at SMR Kids Care & Early Learning Center in Idaho Falls. She received an Associate of Applied Science degree from Idaho State University.

New Governing Board members will join Teresa Wood-Adams (Past President), Margaret Elkins (President-Elect), LeAnn Simmons (Member-at-Large) and Geneva Ayarra (Member-at-Large).

More Information »

In an Era of Growing State-funded Pre-K, Idaho Has None

Press Release

Many 3- and 4-year olds still lack access to high-quality preschool education despite modest gains in enrollment, quality, and funding, according to an annual report by the nonpartisan National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. While several states, including New York, made significant progress through a concerted effort to increase enrollment and funding and improve quality, progress is slow and uneven nationally and quality standards are particularly low in some of the nation’s largest states like California, Florida and Texas. Despite the relatively good news this year, the rate of progress is so slow that it will take 150 years for the nation to reach 75 percent enrollment in state pre-K even at age 4.

Idaho remains one of 8 states in the 2014-2015 year without a state-funded pre-K program. Pay for Success legislation (2015) passed that allows for private funders to invest in scaling up social programs. Early education could positively contribute to Idaho’s Comprehensive Literacy Plan by getting children ready for kindergarten.

“Idaho’s economic future depends on early investment in its youngest citizens,” said NIEER Director Steve Barnett. “Ensuring that every child has access to high-quality preschool can help to pave the way for their success in school, on the job, and in Idaho communities,” he said.

The State of Preschool report for the 2014-2015 school year, which includes objective state-by-state profiles and rankings, indicates that urgent action is needed from lawmakers at all levels of government to ensure that every child – particularly those from low-income families – have access to high-quality early education. For the first year, NIEER also analyzed states’ early education workforce and Dual Language Learner policies.

The report finds that for the nation as a whole, total state spending on pre-K programs increased by 10 percent, or $553 million, since the previous year, bringing state spending in 2014-2015 to over $6.2 billion. The number of children served by state-funded pre-K served increased by 37,167 in 2014-2105, bringing the total to almost 1.4 million children – the largest number of children ever served by state funded pre-K. With an average rate of $4,489, states also made one of the most significant increases in spending per child in recent history.

“We’re encouraged to see several states increasing in enrollment and improving quality, but access to high-quality pre-K in the United States remains low and highly unequal,” said Barnett. “Expanding access to quality pre-K programs is one of the best investments we can make, and it’s critical that we raise and standardize salaries for early education teachers and have strong Dual language Learner policies in states with large Hispanic populations. State governments should increase and stabilize funding for pre-K and raise standards for the benefit of all children.”

The State of Preschool Report reviews state-funded pre-K programs on 10 benchmarks of quality standards, including the presence of a qualified instructor, class size, teacher-to-student ratio, presence of an assistant, and length of instruction per day.

For more information on The State of Preschool 2015 yearbook and detailed state-by-state breakdowns on quality benchmarks, enrollment, and funding, please click here.

The nonprofit Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) is dedicated to advancing Idaho's early learning profession and advocating for children and families. The organization was founded in 1984 and is headquartered in Boise, Idaho. Learn more at

Download Press Release »

Sept 14-15 2016

Women and Leadership 2016, Empowering Through Knowledge

Learn more ›

Sept 30-Oct 1 2016

Snake River AEYC 2016 Fall Conference, Brain Benefits of Connecting Children to Nature

Learn more ›

Oct 21 2016

North Idaho AEYC 2016 Fall Early Childhood Conference

Learn more ›

Nov 2-5 2016

NAEYC Annual Conference, Los Angeles, California.

Learn more ›

Nov 15-16 2016

Idaho's 9th Early Years Conference, Boise, Idaho.

Learn more ›

Nov 17-18 2016

Family & Community Engagement Conference, Boise, Idaho.

Learn more ›

IdahoSTARS Training Calendar