In 2016, Idaho AEYC needed a strategic communication and community outreach plan to ultimately ensure that every child under age 6 has access to affordable, high-quality early learning programs. ACS was the perfect partner to help design and implement a three-year, statewide strategic communication and community outreach plan.

In 2018, Idaho AEYC asked ACS to develop a toolkit that will assist local decision makers, school districts, and other entities develop a local collaborative that will increase access to quality Pre-K for families in their communities. Idaho AEYC launched their coordinated and broad-reaching policy advocacy campaign “Preschool The Idaho Way” to assist communities in developing local preschool collaboratives. These “collaborations” – partnerships with community-based early learning and care providers – can help address some challenges, such as the lack of resources and expertise or the inability to meet the comprehensive needs of children and their families. Collaboration also allows public school systems to avoid “reinventing the wheel” and instead to build upon the work of community-based programs and to enhance families’ preschool choices.

How we did it: To develop the communication and community outreach plan, ACS worked closely with the Idaho AEYC team to establish measurable goals and the strategies and tactics necessary to achieve them, including a detailed work plan for year one activities. Because ACS’ recommendations included the addition of a new program director, ACS worked alongside the Idaho AEYC executive director to develop that position description and interview and hire a top-notch candidate. ACS also supported Idaho AEYC’s work toward research goals contained in the plan by designing the scope of research activities (including polling, surveys, and focus groups) and identified research firms and contract terms to deliver on those activities.

To support Idaho AEYC’s broader “Preschool the Idaho Way” campaign, ACS developed a comprehensive how-to guide for local leaders to collaborate and develop local preschool initiatives by leveraging their national knowledge and gathering information about Idaho-specific initiatives.

Outcomes to date: Idaho AEYC is moving forward with a clear, comprehensive plan that will allow them to understand target audience perceptions about preschool; educate parents; and build awareness, support, and demand within Idaho communities and among state leaders to invest in early childhood education.

Idaho AEYC launched the toolkit in concert with their statewide plan to develop local preschool collaboratives. The toolkit is currently being publicized through statewide partners and three communities are already working through the toolkit to create preschool collaboratives. In 2019, Idaho will assist 10-13 additional target communities work through the toolkit. Idaho AEYC’s Preschool the Idaho Way toolkit can be found online here.