Our region is among the premier areas of the country for raising a family where parents have the support to put their children on a path to success through a robust, equitable, and varied educational ecosystem.


As a metro area that is consistently recognized among the nation’s best places to raise a family, we have organically—and intentionally—nourished our strength as a hub for the development, innovation, and provision of childcare services and educational opportunities. This range of opportunities maximizes the growth potential of our children, families, and region consistent with longstanding research showing the lifelong benefits of investing in early childhood development. These investments not only positively influence individual outcomes in education, health, and well-being, but also have far-reaching effects on society as a whole, fostering positive economic, social, and intergenerational impacts. Early childhood investments that prioritize equity and address the needs of disadvantaged or vulnerable populations also help reduce the achievement gap and promote social equity.

Central Iowa urgently needs further investment in childcare resource development, with particular emphasis on programs and facilities that provide greater access and assistance for families with financial need. One initiative discussed during Capital Crossroads focused on systems-level mapping of existing resources to identify where there are key resource gaps. This mapping could generate greater alignment, collaboration, and coordination between existing organizations, agencies, and other community stakeholders to achieve stronger holistic outcomes for our region’s children.

It is essential to extend investment in youth beyond the early years. Every student deserves the necessary education and training to smoothly transition into the regional workforce or pursue higher education upon high school graduation. The overarching objective of offering career-ready curricula throughout Central Iowa is to ensure that all students graduate with one or more “market value assets” that enhance their employability and future prospects, such as college credit, work-based and entrepreneurial experiences, postsecondary credentials, and degrees.

To achieve this goal, there is a strong emphasis on fostering public-private collaboration. This collaborative effort aims to provide students with a wide array of resources, including curriculum materials, internships, apprenticeship programs, an expanded selection of co-enrolled courses, and opportunities to earn industry credentials in skilled trades such as welding and healthcare technology. By nurturing this supportive ecosystem, students are equipped with the practical skills and valuable experiences necessary to thrive in their chosen fields and achieve success in their future endeavors.


1. All families have access to high-quality childcare and early childhood education with culturally specific programs and facilities that provide greater access and assistance for those with financial difficulties.
2. Iowa students are prepared for success in careers through skilled and secondary education that imparts real-world knowledge and experiences aligned with current industry standards and workforce needs.
3. The majority of regional youth choose to stay in Central Iowa to pursue their careers.