DES MOINES — The Iowa Department of Education announced five Iowa school districts have been selected to pilot a new program leveraging school-community partnerships to expand access to child care while supporting high school students earning a national child development credential. In support of the pilot, the school districts were awarded a total of over $140,000 in the first rounds of competitive grants through the Credentials to Child Care Careers grant program.

The following school districts are the first Credentials to Child Care Careers grant cohort, working to align existing family and consumer science programs to the attainment of a Child Development Associate credential:
●    Council Bluffs Community School District
●    MMCRU Community School District
●    Sioux Central Community School District 
●    Starmont Community School District
●    Woodbine Community School District

“These Credentials for Child Care Careers programs 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. “We commend the awardees for their leadership in realizing our shared priority to strengthen pathways to in-demand child development careers and to support working families.”

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.

“We are excited to continue joint efforts with our Iowa Health and Human Services partners in child care and to support school districts and local child care providers building relationships in service to their communities,” said Kimberly Villotti, Early Childhood Bureau Chief at the Iowa Department of Education.

District awardees 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. Additionally, districts can use their grant awards to cover allowable costs, such as student exam fees, textbooks, CDA course materials, student stipends, licensed child care partner stipends, and other approved expenses that help remove barriers to participation.

Grants to the first cohort will be distributed in July for district implementation during the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years.

More information about the Credentials to Child Care Careers Grant is available on the Iowa Department of Education’s website on the Industry-Recognized Credentials page.