Our Story: Idaho AEYC Champions for Children for 25 Years

Celebrate 25 Years of Idaho AEYC

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Our Story:

In 1986, a passionate group of early education trailblazers from every corner of Idaho came together with a shared vision — to champion equitable, accessible, and top-tier early education and care for the heart and soul of our state, its children and families. Individuals like Mary Lou Kinney, Sharon Bixby, Charlie Brown, Jana Jones, Judy French, Innam Fenton, Holly Bostick, Julie Van Osdol, Marian Posey, Mark Zimmermann, Helen Beitia, and Doug Fagerness selflessly volunteered, knowing that their dedication was a catalyst for positive change in families' lives across Idaho.

The concept of establishing Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) took shape when these early childhood educators, recognizing the need for a locally driven entity, sought affiliation with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The overarching goal was to showcase a unified commitment from every region in Idaho for supporting the state's young children, families, and early education professionals.

In 1986, the group embarked on the journey to become a state affiliate with NAEYC, harnessing their collective expertise and drawing inspiration from established NAEYC affiliates. With unwavering determination, they crafted Idaho AEYC's bylaws and laid the foundation for the inaugural governing board. Notably, the then NAEYC President, Docia Zavikosky, traveled to Boise to officially present Idaho AEYC with its affiliate papers at the Idaho State Capitol, marking a significant milestone in our organization's history.

Pictures from the last 25 years

In 1998, Idaho AEYC was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization, unlocking doors of opportunity through the T.E.A.C.H. grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation. This grant provided scholarships for child care providers in 1999, and Idaho AEYC was able to hire Pat Frankle, as the first Executive Director for Idaho AEYC, along with two other staff members, counselor Julie Prince and office assistant Kris Draney.

In 2001, a Maternal Child Health Grant was written in collaboration with Success by 6, and in July 2001, Karen Mason was hired on to implement the Healthy Child Care Idaho Project. Idaho AEYC was officially a staff of four, providing support across the entire state of Idaho with the help of the governing board. In late 2001, Pat Frankle passed the torch to Karen Mason, marking the beginning of a new chapter. The team quickly grew when the U.S. Department of Labor awarded Idaho AEYC a grant, and added two members to this staff, Katrice Walters and Jane Zink, who are still Idaho AEYC team members today, 25 years later.

In July of 2003, Idaho AEYC collaborated with the Center on Disabilities and Human Development (CDHD) of the University of Idaho to successfully bid for the Professional Development project through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Brenda Breidinger was hired as the project director, who then hired a team and, through Idaho AEYC, created the IdahoSTARS professional development system.

Idaho AEYC has been and will continue to be the champion of early education in Idaho. For 25 extraordinary years, we've challenged assumptions about early learning and care, standing as unwavering supporters of educators and families seeking child care and early education services. Idaho AEYC dedicates itself to providing resources to families, early educators and communities, ensuring that every child can embrace high-quality early learning opportunities that are not just accessible but also affordable for every family. Our journey is an inspiration, and our commitment is boundless as we shape the future of Idaho's youngest minds with love, care, and boundless possibilities. Together, we create a legacy of impact and empowerment that echoes for generations to come. 

Idaho AEYC timeline


Pictures from the last 25 years