The Early Childhood Quality Improvement Project (ECQuIP) supports early childhood programs serving at least 30% children from low-income families in Polk and Dallas counties. Our goal is to help programs achieve a level of quality that supports the development of all children and puts them on track with their peers when entering kindergarten. The ECQuIP team consists of a coordinator, center consultants that specialize in literacy, social emotional learning, curriculum and assessment, early childhood administration, QRIS, and infant toddler care. The ECQuIP team also works closely with child care nurse consultants and dental professionals. 

Focus on Low-Income Families with Young Children

Per the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child publication: A Science-Based Framework for Early Childhood Policy, “For young children from low-income families, participation in very high-quality, center based, early education programs has been demonstrated to enhance child cognitive and social development.” The six characteristics of high quality listed in the publication include “(1) highly skilled teachers; (2) small class sizes and high adult-to-child ratios; (3) age-appropriate curricula and stimulating materials in a safe physical setting; (4) a language-rich environment; (5) warm, responsive interactions between staff and children; and (6) high and consistent levels of child participation.” The ECQuIP team works to support the child care programs in these six areas so that the children being served can enter kindergarten on track with their peers not experiencing poverty.

Resources We Offer

  • Professional Development       
  • Monthly Director Meetings 
  • QRIS (IQ4K®) Support
  • Ages and Stages Screening
  • Literacy Screening
  • Math Screening
  • Referral Support
  • Onsite Consultation and Coaching in the Areas of:
    • Business Practices
    • Classroom Curriculum and Assessment
    • Classroom Management
    • Parent and Staff Relations
    • Program Licensing

Referrals We Make

  • Smile Squad Dental Program
  • Vision Screening
  • Hearing Screening
  • Immunization Audits
  • T.E.A.C.H. scholarships
  • WAGE$ 

Annual Reports


Funding for this project is provided by United Way of Central Iowa, Women’s Leadership Connection, and Polk County Early Childhood Iowa.

United Way of Central Iowa logo
Polk County


Tammy Engebretson

Director of Quality Initiatives
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