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Report: Iowa shorting early childhood education, cuts could impact future economic development

The Gazette, Cedar Rapids
4/19/12

Iowa is cutting costs when it comes to the development of its young children, and that could hamper the state’s future economic development, according to a report for the Iowa Fiscal Partnership made public Thursday.

The report, examining Iowa funding for early childhood education programs compared with business tax breaks, focused on three state-designed programs that provide care and educational support for children from birth to age 5.

Grants for the state’s Early Childhood Fund have dropped nearly $1 million since 2009, … (g)rants for the School Ready Fund have declined nearly $16.5 million since 2008, … (a)nd funding to the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for 4-year-old children rose as intended after its inception 2008 but was cut $6.1 million this year.

At the same time, according to the report, the state’s investments in business tax credits have topped $200 million a year while Early Childhood and School Ready grants never have reached $50 million a year.

“This is not a cost-effective strategy for Iowa in the long run,” said Lily French, research associate for the nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project and author of the new report.

“And it is shortchanging our children,” French said.