Policy priority: Early Childhood Iowa

Center Focus

Policy priority: Early Childhood Iowa


This week, the joint House-Senate Education Appropriations subcommittee met to hear about the Governor's recommendations for education funding. Gov. Reynolds is proposing a modest 2.3 percent increase in per-pupil funding for K-12 schools. But once again, our state's early childhood education programs saw a recommendation for status quo funding. If approved, Early Childhood Iowa, Early Head Start and Shared Visions would all continue to operate on the same state funding they have seen for the last several years.

But ECI's funding woes go back even further than that. It has seen its funding cut or held flat every year since 2008—even as it has continued to serve more families. 

That's a tremendous lost opportunity for Iowa because ECI is uniquely positioned to improve services and fill gaps in early-childhood services in the areas of health, early learning, family support and special needs. Here's how ECI's most recent annual report describes its work:

ECI brings communities together – parents; child care, human service and health care providers; educators; business people; and the faith community – to identify strengths, needs and gaps in services in the community. Through the identification of the community's gaps in services, ECI area boards provide tools and resources to fully engage young children in learning opportunities so they can grow to be healthy, productive and well-rounded students, parents, workers and leaders.

ECI funding and Iowa young-child population, 1999-2019

This chart compares changes in ECI's funding with changes in the young-child population. In its early years, ECI's funding kept up with or grew faster than the number of young children. But since 2008, the opposite has been true. Early childhood grants help local ECI areas fund a wide array of child care needs, including care for mildly ill children and those who need care during second and third shifts. School readiness grants help local areas cover comprehensive services for young children, including preschool for low-income children and family support and parent education efforts. View a more detailed history of ECI funding here.


01/25/2019 6:04 PM |Add a comment
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