Dems: Appropriations – week of Feb. 29, 2016

March 5, 2016

SF 2153 – AmeriCorps program and refugees

SF 2161 – Children’s mental health and well being

SF 2237 – State Preschool Program incentive expansion

SSB 3128 – Early Childhood Iowa



SF 2153 requires the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, in collaboration with the Department of Human Services (DHS), to establish a RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps program to increase community integration and engagement for diverse refugee communities in Iowa.


The Commission may use money in the community programs account within the Economic Development Authority to fund the program. The Commission, in collaboration with DHS, may adopt rules to implement and administer the program and must submit an annual report to the Legislature and DHS on the efficacy of the program.


The implementation of the program is contingent upon receiving appropriate funding from the Legislature. If funds are appropriated they may be used to supplement federal funds under federal regulations.

[3/2: 19-2 (Garrett, Rozenboom “no”)]


SF 2161 implements the recommendations of the Children’s Mental Health & Wellbeing workgroup established in last year’s Health & Human Services appropriation bill, SF 505. The bill establishes children’s mental health crisis services planning grants. Implementation of the grants is contingent on receiving an appropriation from the Legislature. DHS will study and collect data on emerging collaborative efforts to address the wellbeing of children.


The bill also establishes a process for selecting three to five Children’s Wellbeing Learning Labs. DHS will work with the Mental Health & Disability Services Commission, Iowa Department of Public Health and Mental Health Planning Commission to develop children’s mental health crisis services. In addition, the bill calls for continuation of a Children’s Mental Health & Wellbeing Advisory Committee comprised of members of the 2015 workgroup.

[3/2: 21-0]


SF 2237 establishes a preschool expansion incentive program. Code section 256C.3 is amended to require school districts to implement a plan for the district’s preschool program to operate without a waiting list for school budget years beginning on or after July 1, 2020. To be eligible for the incentive, a school district must develop and implement a plan approved by the Department of Education to expand preschool enrollment to eligible students. The plan must include how the school district will collaborate with participating families, early care providers and community partners to expand enrollment. The Department of Education is to specify other requirements for the plan and for approval of plans. The Department will analyze the enhancements to the preschool program following the incentives period and submit a report to the Legislature.


The incentive program will operate for the three school budget years beginning July 1, 2017; July 1, 2018; and July 1, 2019. A school district will be eligible to receive incentive state aid equal to 10 percent of the regular program state cost per pupil ($600). The incentive state aid must be used to defray increases in costs for preschool expansion plan, including renovation and other facility updates, outreach, one-time expenses and other eligible costs. The bill also increases allowable administrative costs for school districts from 5 to 10 percent.

[3/2: 13-8 (party-line)]


SSB 3128 makes changes to the Early Childhood Iowa (ECI) initiative. ECI was created to empower individuals, communities and the state to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of early care, education, health and human services systems provided to families with children through age five. The ECI state board, ECI area boards, and other state and local government agencies provide support, leadership and facilitation of the growth of individual, community and state responsibility to improve quality of life for young children and their families.


Division I eliminates the requirement that the Governor’s citizen member appointees to the state board be selected from individuals nominated by ECI area boards and removes references relating to a levels of excellence rating system to be used in the state board’s designation process for area boards.


The bill eliminates the requirement that the composition of an ECI area board include representation from early care interests. “Early care” refers to the programs, services, support or other assistance available to a parent or person addressing the health and education needs of a child through age five. The bill also makes changes to the duties of an ECI board relating to the development of a comprehensive community plan for children through age five.


The bill amends provisions relating to the School Ready Children Grant Program. The division eliminates the requirement that at least 60 percent of state funding that an area board designates for family support programs must be committed to programs with a home visitation component and also eliminates the option that child care services funded by a School Ready Children Grant may include nurse consultants.


Once an ECI area board receives a School Ready Children Grant, continued funding by the ECI area board is subject to submission of the required annual report and the state board’s determination that the ECI area board is making progress. Each ECI area board must participate in the designation process established by the ECI state board to measure the ECI area’s success. If the use of performance measures and community-wide indicators does not show progress, the state board may require a corrective action plan, provide technical assistance, withhold any increase in funding or withdraw grant funding.


An ECI area board’s designation must be determined by evidence of successful collaboration among public and private early care, education, health and human services interests in the area or a documented program design that supports a strong likelihood of a successful collaboration.


The bill eliminates the requirement that grant money be adjusted for other federal and state grant money to be received by the area for services to children through age five; the requirement that the Department of Management provide information to the ECI state board on use of the ECI website and that such information be included in the board’s annual report; and the maximum funding amount an ECI area can receive from the ECI programs grant account for a fiscal year.


References to “home visitation program” in Code chapter 256I are replaced with references to “family support program.” A conforming Code change is made in Code section 135.106 (healthy families programs). The intent is to give priority to family support program funding using evidence-based or promising program models. To implement this intent, by July 1, 2016, 90 percent of state funds expended for family support programs must be used for evidence-based or promising program models.

[3/2: 21-0]

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