From 2012 to 2013, Iowa expanded enrollment of state-funded preschool to more than 3,000 4-year-olds and 400 3-year-olds. Today, the Iowa Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program currently serves 60 percent of 4-year-olds and 4 percent of 3-year-olds, and 2,355 children under the age of three are enrolled in Early Head Start. Additionally, the average annual cost of center-based infant care in the state is $9,053. Democrats in the state legislature are eager to continue expanding access to early childhood education.
- What the governor is saying: Gov. Terry Branstad has proposed spending nearly $70 million on preschool in fiscal year 2015 to help support the currently free, voluntary preschool programs in school districts across the state.
- What’s happening in the legislature: In addition to the governor’s proposal, Democrats in the state legislature are looking to add an additional $30 million in funding for early childhood education. The bill, which has passed through the state Senate on a vote of 28-22, now heads to the state House. The proposed funding would help boost existing programs and create additional programs for 4-year-olds over three years beginning in 2015.
- Public support for early childhood education: A February 2014 poll from The Des Moines Register finds that 76 percent of Iowans “want to make free preschool accessible to every 4-year-old.”