Policy Strategies & Innovations Link copied!

Innovation Name Innovation Type Innovation Subtype Features at a Glance Strategy Summary
Child Care Business Incentive Grant Program Expansion Physical Space and Facilities

One-time funding

In 2021, through Executive Order 8, Governor Kim Reynolds created the Child Care Task Force in response to the state's child care shortage; the Child Care Business Incentive Grant Program was created as part of the task force’s work. The grant program helps employers offer or expand on-site child care. In September 2022, $26.6 million was awarded for 23 projects and 1,786 new child care slots; in January 2023, another $443,234 was awarded for 5 projects and 77 new child care slots. Federal American Rescue Plan Act funds are being used for this grant program.

Learn More: Iowa's Child Care Grants


State of Iowa. (n.d.). Child Care Grants.
State of Iowa. (2021). Governor's Child Care Task Force Report.
Office of the Governor of Iowa Kim Reynolds. (2022). Gov. Reynolds announces $25M Child Care Business Incentive Grant Program.

I2D2 - Iowa's Integrated Data System for Decision Making Infrastructure Systems Data Systems

Early Childhood Integrated Data System

Since 2018, Iowa State University of Science and Technology has hosted I2D2 (Iowa's Integrated Data System for Decision Making), the state's early childhood integrated data system,in partnership with multiple state agencies (e.g., Department of Public Health, Department of Human Services, Department of Education, Department of Human Rights, Department of Workforce Development, Department of Economic Development, Department of Management, and Head Start Grantees). The system functions as a multifaceted data transfer platform, data management platform, and data analytics platform. It links program and deidentified individual data related to children and families, including vital records (birth and death records); DAISEY home visiting records; Child Care Assistance records; public education PK-12 enrollment, attendance, achievement, and special education records; and Head Start enrollment. Approved users can access the data for specific projects under a memorandum of agreement. I2D2 also offers a data visualization dashboard, IA Data Drive” for public use.

I2D2 was authorized under Iowa Code Chapter 256i, which instituted the Iowa Early Childhood Initiative. It is funded through individual grants and contracts that support specific projects. The system has received grants from Iowa State University, Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy, and other funders. State funding and funding from the Preschool Development Grant (2019) have also supported the effort.

Learn more/SOurce: Iowa's Integrated Data System for Decision Making (I2D2)
Iowa Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program (SWVPP) Expansion Universal Pre-K Policy (4-Year-Olds) More Than 60% of Children Served (4-Year-Olds)

Percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled (as of 2022): 64%
Percentage of 3-year-olds enrolled (as of 2022): 4%
Minimum hours of operation: 10 hrs/week

In 2007, Iowa launched a Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program (SWVPP) that offers universal access to at least 10 hours of care per week for all 4-year-olds. The funding comes from the K-12 state funding formula, which stipulates that programs serving 4-year-olds receive 50% of the K-12 state aid amounts. SWVPP serves children in a combination of public and private schools and community-based child care settings. It is offered in collaboration with a targeted program called Shared Visions, which provides quality care for children experiencing various risk factors. In November, 2022, the state learned it would lose out on $30 million in federal Preschool Development Grant funding, which may have an impact on future expansion efforts.

learn more: Iowa Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children

Iowa Department of Education. (2020). Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children.
National Institute for Early Education Research. (2022). Iowa.
Iowa Capital Dispatch. (2022). Iowa will not receive $30 million in federal aid for child care.

Child Care WAGE$ Iowa Workforce Bonuses and Supplemental Pay

$525 to $9,200 per educator per year, with an average supplement of $2,462

Child Care WAGE$ Iowa provides supplemental pay to early childhood educators based on their education level, quality rating level, and commitment to their early education program. WAGE$ is designed to retain and support the professional development of early education professionals; in turn, this creates a more stable workforce with the skills needed to support young children's healthy learning and development. Bonuses range from $525 to $9,200 per educator per year, with an average annual payment of $2,462. Amounts increase as educators obtain more formal education, and educators must remain in their early education program for at least six months to qualify for an award. In FY22, Child Care WAGE$ Iowa provided supplements to 1,341 educators in 585 programs. Turnover among recipients was only 8%, much lower than the estimated 26-40% turnover rate among educators in licensed child care programs nationwide.

This program is part of the national Child Care WAGE$ project. After initially launching in select counties, it is now available statewide.

Learn More: Iowa WAGE$


Iowa AEYC. (n.d.). Iowa WAGE$.

Iowa AEYC. (2022). T.E.A.C.H. and W.A.G.E.$ Annual Report.

Iowa AEYC. (2022). Child Care WAGE$ Iowa FY22 Results.

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Demographics Link copied!

State population

3,200,517 Source U.S. Census, 2022

Rural %

36.8% Source U.S. Census, 2020

Urban %

63.2% Source U.S. Census, 2020

Number of children age 0-4

189,056 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Poverty levels – children 0-8 below 200% poverty

34% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Median family income among households with children

$85,700.00 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Unemployment rate

3.1% Source U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2022

Unemployment rate of parents

3% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Children under age 6 with all available parents in the labor force

74% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Children living in households with a high housing cost burden

20% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Child population by race and ethnicity Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Race and Ethnicity

  • American Indian and Alaska Native (0.49%)
  • Asian (3%)
  • Black or African American (6%)
  • Hispanic or Latino (11%)
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (0.49%)
  • Two or More Races (4%)
  • White, not Hispanic or Latino (76%)

Political Landscape Link copied!

Source: Ballotpedia 2023

Early Childhood Education Programs Link copied!

Public pre-K program name

Shared Visions Source: NIEER 2023

Public pre-K program name

Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program (SWVPP) Source: NIEER 2023

Universal or targeted pre-K policy

Targeted Pre-K Policy (3- and 4-Year-Olds) Source: NIEER 2023

Universal or targeted pre-K policy

Universal Pre-K Policy (4-Year-Olds) Source: NIEER 2023

Percent of 3-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs Source: NIEER 2023


  • 3-year-old children enrolled in state-funded public pre-K (4%)
  • 3-year-old children enrolled in Head Start (6%)
  • Other/none (90%)
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Percent of 4-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs Source: NIEER 2023


  • 4-year-old children enrolled in state-funded public pre-K (64%)
  • 4-year-old children enrolled in Head Start (4%)
  • Other/none (32%)
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Workforce Link copied!

2017–2019 Median Hourly Wages Source CSCCE 2018, 2020


  • Child care workers
  • Preschool teachers
  • Preschool or child care center directors
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Funding Sources Link copied!

Federal and State Early Childhood Education Funding (in millions) Source First Five Years Fund, 2022

Funding source

  • Head Start and Early Head Start Funding ($79.2)
  • CCDBG & Mandatory Funds ($78.3)
  • CCDBG State Match ($7.8)
  • CCDBG COVID Relief Allocations – CARES, CRRSE, ARPA (CCDF & Stabilization) ($496.3)
  • State-Funded Pre-K ($91.8)
  • MIECHV ($5.8)
  • IDEA Part C ($6.5)
  • IDEA Part B, Sec 619 ($6.2)
  • TANF Early Learning and Care Expenditures ($52.6)

Funding acronyms: CCDBG: Child Care and Development Block Grant; CARES Act: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act; CRRSE Act: Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations; ARPA: American Rescue Plan Act; CCDF: Child Care and Development Fund; MIECHV: Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program; IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; TANF: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

The COVID Funding Cliff

All federal COVID relief allocations, including funding authorized by the CARES, CRRSE, and ARPA bills, must be fully spent by September 2024. An analysis from the Century Foundation shows this loss of funds could cause more than 3 million children to lose access to child care nationwide – including more than 13,000 children in Iowa.