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Iowa

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.

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State Early Childhood Policy Environment and 2021 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.

Advocacy Landscape:

Common Good Iowa early childhood policy

Policy Landscape and Progress:

$7.77B State Budget

Estimated FY2021 State General Fund Expenditures

ALIGNED GOVERNMENT
House (R), Senate (R),
Governor (R)

2021 SESSIONS: TWO
89th General Assembly
(1/11-5/19)
Special Session
(10/5)

35% LOW-INCOME CHILDREN
126,195 Young Children (0-8)
are Below 200% FPL

PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN 0-8 IN LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS, BY RACE

Percentage of Children 0-8 Living in Households Below 200% FPL

In spite of a challenging legislative environment in 2021, early childhood advocates and policymakers came together to deliver several important wins for Iowa children and their families:

 

    • HF 302. Increases Child Care Plus eligibility from 225% to 250% FPL. This is the cliff-effect program and will allow families to take a raise and continue to work and receive child care assistance. This will affect an estimated additional 120 families.
    • HF 893. Omnibus tax bill doubles income eligibility for the child care tax credit from families making $45k to $90k, adding 24,000 families.
    • HF 847. Education budget bill increases funding for Early Childhood Iowa by $544k. EC local boards will receive additional funding to meet needs set forth in community assessments (child care, preschool, home visiting, mental health).
    • HF 891. HHS budget bill added funding to reduce waiting list for the Children’s Mental Health Waiver. The waiver provides family and community support service, respite, environmental modifications and adaptive devices, and in-home family therapy for children with serious emotional challenges. Additional funding will help children who qualify for the waiver access services sooner and shorten or eliminate current wait list. Increases provider rates for child care assistance to 50th percentile of current market rate (2021).
    • HF 871. Economic Development Budget Bill provides additional money to fund child care from the Employer Innovation Fund. Provides grants to child care providers to build, renovate, buy equipment, or expand current building to provide quality child care. Iowa Workforce Development Office provides these grants. Hundreds of children and their families will benefit.
    • HF 260. Relates to number of children receiving child care at any one time in a child care home (NCSL).
    • HF 315. $275K allocated to assist school districts and child development programs in meeting the early education needs of at-risk children. iRelates to programs for at-risk children.1
    • HF 388. New clarity relating to duties of the child development coordinating council.1
    • EO8. New Child Care Taskforce to develop strategies to address child care shortage and barriers to work.
    • Blocked extreme eligibility verification requirements that would have made it harder to secure and maintain coverage in critical safety-net programs like Medicaid and SNAP. For the fourth year, legislation was introduced and defeated. Common Good Iowa worked with numerous partners to help legislators understand the devastating impact of this proposal on their constituents.

Influencing Federal Relief Funds

Advocates provided recommendations to DHS on the CARES dollars and served as a member of the expanding eligibility and workforce workgroups of the Governor’s Task Force on Child Care. The CARES dollars are currently being used in several ways, and advocates recommended stipends, paying for enrollment and not attendance, and waving copays. Advocates can take some credit for the Governor’s allocation of $7 million in CARES dollars to expand the WAGE$ program statewide.

Sustained Advocacy Campaign

Advocates wanted the legislature and Governor to prioritize racial justice issues and include passing a minority impact statement analysis of bills passed in both chambers. Advocates will continue to work on Minority Impact Statements (HF 478) in coming years.

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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END NOTES: 

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Early Care and Education Bill Tracking, Searchable Database for 2021. August 2021.

REFERENCES:

National Center for Children in Poverty, “NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample, 2019.” Provided to the Alliance for Early Success, November 2020.

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). 2021 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 1, 2021. August 2021.

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Early Care and Education Bill Tracking, Searchable Database for 2021. August 2021.

Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau. “Population of Children Aged 0 to 8 (2019),” (as cited in Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Data Center). November 2020.  

State Grantees of the Alliance for Early Success, Survey and Analysis by Frontera Strategy, September-November 2021.

Vesey White, Kathryn, et al. (Spring 2021). “Table 4: Fiscal 2020 State General Fund, Estimated (Millions),” The Fiscal Survey of States. National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO). August 2021.

GOING FORWARD:

Top Alliance Grantee Priorities in Iowa for 2022

Protect equity-focused early childhood initiatives, including Early Childhood Iowa’s equity advisory group, in the face of state legislation limiting discussion of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Expand access to high-quality preschool, especially for children of color and other marginalized groups, by better funding and coordinating enrollment across state PK programs.

Expand our policy expertise around strategies to expand pre-k, including getting examples of more cohesive and robust pre-k structures in other states.

Increase the state’s Child Care Assistance family entrance eligibility level from 145 percent to 185 percent of the federal poverty level.

Expand our grassroots strategies to better inform our agenda and educate lawmakers on issues facing young children in their districts.

Increase child care provider pay to rates that reflect the actual costs of quality care by continuing to raise CCA reimbursement to the federal standard.

Continue to center equity in our outreach and policy recommendations by adding new strategies to expand our partnerships to amplify voices of Iowans of color and refugees and immigrants.