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Our lead ally in Iowa, Common Good Iowa, is a research and advocacy organization that links research and policy on issues vital to children and families. The organization evaluates health and child and family systems, conducts research to advance programs and policies, and provides technical assistance in policy development, research, and analysis.

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 34% (118,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (2021). This number represents a decrease from 39% (136,000) in 2016.1

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

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

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

On June 1, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds finished acting on the various spending bills that comprise the fiscal 2024 budget. General fund appropriations totaled $8.52 billion in fiscal 2024, an increase of $302.5 million, or 3.7 percent, compared to revised fiscal 2023 appropriations..3

Largest FY 2021 Per Capita Revenue Sources (after federal transfers):4

    • Charges: $2,675 per capita
    • Property Taxes: $1,941 per capita

Iowa uses all major state and local taxes. Charges are public payments connected with a specific government service, such as tuition paid to a state university, payments to a public hospital, or highway tolls. 

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.5

Types of Common Ballot Measures Available:6  One

    • Legislature-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – 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.

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Common Good Iowa early childhood policy

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:7

2023 Policy Progress:

While advocates spent much of their time and resources working against harmful legislation that ultimately passed, Alliance allies at Common Good Iowa were able to work with the governor to successfully increase access to Iowa’s Child Care Assistance (CCA) program and better support the child care workforce through higher reimbursement rates and categorical eligibility for child care workers. Administrative advocacy plus some legislative pressure resulted in allocation of nearly $100 million in federal child care dollars. 

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:8

Increase to child care assistance income eligibility: Effective March 1, 2023 the income eligibility limit for those initially applying to the Child Care Assistance (CCA) program increased from 145% to 155% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL). This was accomplished through recommended changes to administrative policy, based on a Governor’s Task Force recommendations.

Child care provider rate increase: Effective March 1, 2023 the CCA provider rate tables increased from 50-75th percentile to 65-80th percentile. This was accomplished through administrative policy, based on a Governor’s Task Force recommendations.

Child care provider assistance: Starting July 5, 2023, HHS implemented a one-year pilot program which allows the child care workforce to apply for Child Care Assistance (CCA) for their own children even if they are over the family income limit. To be eligible for the pilot program an individual must work at least 32 hours per week in a direct care position at a licensed center, or is registered as a child development home provider or as a non-registered child care home accepting CCA.

Though it didn’t pass the legislature, Iowa’s governor proposed expanding birth control access and creating a paid family leave program for state employees: 4 weeks for moms; 1 week for a “supportive partner.”

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy

The Alliance’s lead grantee in Iowa, Common Good Iowa, is working to advance early childhood policies in several areas that align with the Alliance’s birth-through-eight policy framework

Early Care and Education

Preschool and Pre-K

Child Care 

Child Care Workforce 

Child and
Maternal Health

Infant & Child Health

Maternal Health


Family Economic Security


Early Childhood Infrastructure


Click here for more information on advocates’ policy agenda.


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 Urban Institute, State Fiscal Briefs, July 2023

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

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

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

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

More State Policy Data:


More State Demographic Data: