Iowa’s Community Empowerment was established during the 1998 legislative session in an effort to create a partnership between communities and State government with an emphasis to improve the well-being of families with young children. Within local empowerment areas, local citizens are able to lead collaborative efforts involving education, health, and human service programs.
The 2010 legislative session brought about some changes in Iowa’s early childhood structure. Prior to this legislative session, Iowa’s youngest children were supported through a partnership between Community Empowerment and the Early Childhood Iowa Stakeholder’s Council (ECI). Both groups have served as leading advocates for young children and their families for several years.
In an effort to work toward a common vision of a comprehensive early care, health, and education system, the Iowa Legislature established Senate File 2088, calling for a merger of Community Empowerment and Early Childhood Iowa into one inclusive structure. These efforts lead to the change from Community Empowerment to Early Childhood Iowa.
Achieving Results: Every community in Iowa will have the opportunity to develop the capacity and commitment for achieving these results:
Children Ready to Succeed in School
Safe and Nurturing Families
Secure and Nurturing Child Care Environments
The Early Childhood Iowa legislation established two specific programs School Ready and Early Childhood. These programs provide funding to encourage communities to “work together” to assist families with children ages zero to five. School Ready Grants provide comprehensive services for children birth through five including:
- Preschool and Child Care
- Parent Support
- Family Home Visitation
- Quality Improvement
Early Childhood Grants enhance the quality and capacities of child care including:
- Regular child care
- Infant child care
- Training regarding quality for providers including center-based and home-based care
The Buena Vista, Crawford, and Sac Counties Early Childhood Iowa Area (BVCS ECI) was formed in 1998 and received official designation in 1999. The major concentration of the area has been to support services for in-home visitation and parent support.
Collaborative guidance for our Early Childhood Iowa Area is provided by a 3-County Board and three Advisory Councils. The structure provides communication and cooperation not only for our direct early childhood activities, but also for additional collaboration between participating community partners. The 3-County Board is comprised of 11 voting members and an early childcare ex officio member: The members are comprised of representatives from a wide variety of citizens and other local providers of services to families and children in the three county area.
The priorities of the BVCS ECI Community Plan for Early Care and Education include:
- Families Participating in Home Visitation Programs
- Pre-school Aged Children Access to Quality Preschool Programs
- Nurturing Home and Center Early Care Environments
- Preparing children to the best of our/their ability to succeed in school
Currently funded programs that work toward meeting the priorities of the BVCS Empowerment include:
- Child Care Home Consultant
- Child Care Nurse Consultants
- Family STEPS in-home visitation
- Preschool Scholarships
- Quailty Improvement Program
- Provider Development
The mission: To improve the quality of life for children and families by strongly supporting safe environments, lifelong learning and facilitating a coordinated system for community services.
For more information about or to become involved with the BVCS Early Childhood Iowa Area contact the Program Director: Annette Koster at 712-662-3880 or PO Box 204 Sac City, IA 50583