The Board of Directors of the tri-county collaboration between Jasper, Marion and Poweshiek counties recently allocated Early Childhood Iowa funding for fiscal year 2020.

The mission of the board is to ensure all children, beginning at birth, will be healthy and ready to succeed. $676,780 in funding was allocated among ten programs throughout the three counties to support initiatives that serve children under the age of 5 and their families.

“Early childhood education in all its forms is so critical to long-term success,” said JMP board chair Britney Schnathorst. “Whether the setting is a quality daycare or in-home provider, an engaging preschool classroom or at home with a parent, children’s brains develop at a lightning-fast pace during the early years. JMP ECI funding plays a crucial role to ensure kids get the best start possible.”

The nonprofit organization was formed in July 2012 to distribute funding from the state’s Early Childhood Iowa program. Because the target population in each of the JMP counties was smaller than the target population of 5,000 zero to five-year-olds, the three counties formed a joint board to oversee grants to programs that serve at-risk children and families.

The Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation serves as the JMP fiscal agent, and a board of nine—three representatives from each county—oversees contracts for programming.

The board allocated nearly $353,000 to two programs that provide in-home family support to at-risk families with children under the age of five. Marion County Public Health received $273,800 to administer a Parents as Teachers program in both Marion and Jasper counties.

MICA Family Connections received $79,000 to serve families using the Partners for a Healthy Baby curriculum. The board allocated $47,065 to Child Care Resource and Referral to support a dedicated childcare consultant to the tri-county area.

To support professional development, $26,380.70 was allocated to the ISU Extension Early Care and Education program to coordinate training opportunities for childcare providers throughout the three counties.

Marion County Public Health also received $12,828 to provide Child Care Nurse Consultant services to childcare providers and $26,000 to provide I-Smile services to preschool-age children. I-Smile provides preventive oral health services and identifies early signs of decay in young children.

Child Care WAGE$ Iowa received $39,675.40 to support income supplements for childcare providers. Qualified providers receive incentive pay every six months with the goal of increased compensation and education levels of early care professionals to retain more qualified educators in the field.

Finally, the board allocated $71,000 to support and coordinate preschool scholarships for children ages three to five to ensure all children can access quality preschool programs to support kindergarten readiness. The remaining $54,543 supports the JMP ECI director, board expenses, liability insurance, fiscal agent and audit fees.

Three board members will complete their terms of service in July. The board is seeking two new board members from Marion County and one from Poweshiek County. To inquire about serving on the board, contact Blanchard at 641-236-5518.

In addition to the state funds the board administers, it also accepts private contributions to provide additional support to the various programs that support at-risk children and families. Individuals who wish to make private contributions to any of the early childhood programs within the JMP region may contact Blanchard at 641-236-5518 or

Recommended for you