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Idaho

Our lead allies in Idaho are Idaho AEYC and Idaho Voices for Children. Idaho AEYC is the leading expert in early childhood education and connected to child care providers, early educators, and parents of young children. Idaho Voices for Children is the leading child policy advocacy group in the state. Together, they work to create an informed voice on what policies are needed to establish sustainably funded, high-quality early childhood systems for Idaho.

2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 41% (86,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% FPL (2021). This number represents a decrease from 48% (102,000) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% FPL than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

Idaho Governor Brad Little signed a series of bills comprising the state’s fiscal 2024 budget. The enacted budget calls for $5.18 billion in general fund appropriations, a 12.0 percent increase over original enacted levels for fiscal 2023. The budget is based on general fund revenues, before tax policy changes, of $5.55 billion, representing a 5.5 percent projected decline compared to fiscal 2023 estimates; the decrease is due mainly to the implementation of prior tax cuts and the sales tax transfer to education. When including funds dedicated to education, property tax relief legislation, and other tax changes, total revenue for fiscal 2024 is estimated at $5.78 billion, with total resources (including the estimated beginning balance) at $6.20 billion. After $746 million in net transfers to various funds as well as projected general fund appropriations for fiscal 2024, the state’s estimated ending balance is $272 million.3 

Key Revenue Sources:

    • Personal Income Tax (1.6% – 7.4%)
    • State Sales Tax (6.0%)

Political Alignment: Aligned Republican

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Republican controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Republican.4

Types of Ballot Measures Available:5  Five

    • Legislature-initiated state statute: Appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Voter-initiated state statute: Earns a spot on the ballot when sponsors collect signatures according to the laws governing the initiative process in Idaho.
    • Legislature-initiated constitutional amendment: A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Veto referendum: When citizens of Idaho disagree with a statute or legislative bill enacted by the state legislature, they can collect signatures to force the issue to a vote. If enough signatures are collected, the bill is placed on the statewide ballot.
    • Recall: Allow citizens of Idaho to petition for the recall of an elected official if enough signatures are collected.

Key State Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:6

2023 Policy Progress:

The 2023 Legislative Session yielded hard-fought wins for early childhood, but lawmakers left federal relief money on the table that could have supported children, families, and providers. The expanded eligibility of Idaho’s child care subsidy program, an appropriation for child care business expansion, and securing federal funding to continue child care facilities and wage enhancement grant payments, and successful defense of child welfare and home visiting budgets are among the bright spots.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:7

SB1203 Provides $28 million from ARPA child care relief dollars to continue monthly child care provider grants and workforce bonuses for early childhood professionals through the end of FY2023. These payments were poised to end prematurely due to inaction by the Legislature, which destabilized the business plans of hundreds of child care providers. Advocates, coalition partners, parents, and providers stepped in to compel the Legislature to reverse course and approve the funding through FY2023.

A rule change increases eligibility for Idaho’s child care assistance program. Idaho’s lead agency proposed a rule change to raise income eligibility to 175% of the Federal Poverty Level. The established rule had eligibility set at 130% FPL but had been temporarily adjusted under the Public Health Emergency to be 145% FPL. Because the PHE ends on May 11, the program eligibility would have reverted to the established 130% threshold thereby eliminating access for hundreds of children.

S1179 Includes $15 million in continued funding for the Idaho Workforce Development Council’s Child Care Expansion Grant program for an additional year. The year before, we secured the first round of $15 million to establish the program. The purpose of these dollars is to expand child care availability across the state by providing grants for applicants looking to expand an existing program or start a new child care business.

HB 288 amends existing law to increase the individual state tax deduction for dependent care to $12,000 per taxable year. The current deduction for dependent care was $3,000 for one child and $6,000 for two or more children. For context, the average annual cost of child care across the seven public health districts in Idaho is $12,688 for two children.

SB1039 will require any fees imposed on tenants to be reasonable and will create greater transparency about fees. It requires residential landlords to disclose all fees in written rental agreements and prevents them from charging fees greater than that specified in the rental agreement. During the bill’s hearing, advocates highlighted the example of a family that faced a steep lease violation fee for having an unauthorized pet when their child brought home a praying mantis inside a jar.

S1168  is the budget for the judicial branch and includes an appropriation of $601,900 for the Guardian Ad Litem program that is distributed throughout the judicial districts.

S1182  is the budget for public health services under the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare which includes the state funds appropriation for home visiting, sustained at current levels to keep the program intact and capable of expanding services in conjunction with the federal budget passed last fall that included significant increases in MIECHV dollars for states.

Implementation of the Idaho School Readiness Project – Idaho has begun to implement a three-year system-building project to improve Idaho’s early childhood landscape. The project, funded with a federal grant and overseen by Idaho State University and Idaho AEYC, will focus on supporting the early childhood workforce, improve program quality, and maximize parental involvement.

Additional Advocacy of Note: Idaho insurance rates for pregnant and postpartum women with low-incomes rank last in the U.S. and Medicaid coverage ends at 2 months postpartum. Voices worked on legislation for the 2023 session that extends postpartum health coverage for women with low-incomes to 1 year after birth, increases Medicaid income eligibility for children and pregnant women, and supports the state’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee. Despite public support, the legislation died in committee due to leadership opposition.

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantees in Idaho, Idaho AEYC & Idaho Voices for Children, are working to advance early childhood policies in several areas that align with the Alliance’s birth-through-eight policy framework

Early Care and Education

Child Care

Child Care Workforce

K-3rd Grade

Preschool and Pre-K

Child and
Maternal Health

Early Intervention (0-3)

Infant and Child Health

Maternal Health

 

Family
Supports

Child Welfare

Family Economic Security

Home Visiting

 

Early Childhood Infrastructure

Early Childhood Governance

RECENT ADVOCACY SNAPSHOT:

NOTES:

1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11, 2023.

4 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

5 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

6 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

7 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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