Governor Reynolds today announced $1 million in initial funding for competitive grants available through the Iowa Department of Education to support school districts that partner with or create local child care centers to help more high school students earn a national child development credential.  

With 246 districts across Iowa currently offering family and consumer science pathways as part of their career and technical education, the new Credentials for Child Care Careers grant will help schools support a strong child care pipeline. 

“Preparing Iowa’s future workforce begins in our schools. Our investment in work-based learning opportunities introduces students to in-demand careers and offers programs that provide the training necessary to earn a credential while still in high school,” Governor Reynolds stated. “This forward-looking approach not only prepares young Iowans to be career ready upon graduation, it also supports local businesses in building their workforce pipeline.” 

“The Credentials for Child Care Careers grant will expand access to high-quality child care, while supporting an early childhood workforce of and for local communities,” said Iowa Department of Education Director McKenzie Snow. “By aligning existing programs to the attainment of an industry-recognized credential, this innovative program will strengthen pathways to in-demand child development careers.” 

The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential is a nationally recognized credential in early childhood education awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition, a leader in the credentialing of early childhood educators worldwide. Obtaining the CDA credential requires coursework, experience in the field and a demonstration assessment during which the student is observed while working with children. Districts that are awarded funding will receive course curriculum that meets both the professional development requirements outlined by Iowa Health and Human Services for employees of Iowa licensed child care centers and the classroom requirements for a CDA credential. 

Eligible school districts that partner with a licensed child care center, including school-operated child care programs, can apply for up to $15,000 for each of the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years, for a total of $30,000. Allowable costs include student exam fees, textbooks, CDA course materials, student stipends, licensed child care partner stipends, and other approved expenses that help remove barriers to participation. 

Applications for the Credentials for Child Care Careers grant will be accepted in beginning today, Feb. 29, 2024.  The application deadline is noon on March 29, 2024. 

More information about the Credentials for Child Care Careers grant is available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website

Initial funding for the Credentials for Child Care Careers grant is made available through the state’s allocation of funds provided through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.