Tri-County Collaboration Benefits Children
A three-year-old, three-county collaboration between Jasper, Marion and Poweshiek counties (JMP) recently awarded grants to area projects that benefit children.
JMP, or “Jump” as it is locally known, was created in July 2012 to distribute funding from the state’s Early Childhood Iowa (ECI) program, administered by the Department of Management. The state requires that each county receiving funds must have 5,000 or more children in the target population of 0-5-year-olds.
Because the target populations in each of the JMP counties was smaller than 5,000, the three contiguous counties, with three separate funding pools, formed a coalition to oversee the grantmaking process to programs that serve at-risk children and families.
A board of nine—three representatives from each county—submits a budget according to state policy, reviews grant applications, and determines funding distribution. Grinnell business owner Jeanne Hammen serves on the JMP board and finds the experience “very rewarding. I strongly believe that quality early learning experiences for children are extremely important and are the best hope for the future. ECI and its regional boards work together to improve daycares and preschools and to give every child the chance to develop to full potential. I am so proud to serve on the JMP board,” Hammen said. Dustin Smith of Grinnell is treasurer of the JMP board, and Doug Cameron is the education representative for Poweshiek County.
The Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation (GPCF) serves as the fiscal agent and provides staffing and program coordination for JMP.
“JMP is a good collaboration. In many ways, it’s a best-kept secret, doing important work for children quietly behind the scenes,” GPCF program coordinator Nicole Brua-Behrens said. “In 2015, JMP reviewed requests for more than $741,000 and allocated $723,000 across the three counties. So far, we’ve been able to provide some funding to every program that requests assistance, just not always at the level requested.”
Programs funded for fiscal year 2016 (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016) include:
- Crossroads of Pella, which offers caregiver resources and support
- Families First of Pella, a Marion County parent education program
- Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation, which provides program coordination and fiscal agent services for JMP
- Grinnell Community Daycare and Preschool, to support sliding fee scale childcare and extra staffing in the baby rooms
- Grinnell Regional Public Health, for the Postpartum Home Visit program for Poweshiek County
- Jasper County Agricultural Extension District, for technical assistance, support and education to early care and education providers in the JMP region
- Jasper County Child Abuse Prevention, for the Parents as Teachers program to provide family support, information, and instruction to families in Jasper County
- Marion County Public Health, for Parents as Teachers program for Marion County families
- Marion County Public Health, for the Early Childhood Health & Safety program providing health and safety education and consultation for Marion County children in childcare environments
- Mid-Iowa Community Action, Inc., for family development services for at-risk or low-income families
- Preschool Scholarship Program, which provides preschool scholarships to families that qualify in the JMP area
- Orchard Place, Childcare Resource and Referral, for Childcare Provider Training and professional development opportunities for all childcare providers in the JMP area
- Orchard Place, Childcare Resource and Referral, for Childcare Consultants who provide technical assistance and consultation to all childcare programs in the JMP area
- Orchard Place, Childcare Resource and Referral, for Quality Improvement Grants which provide equipment to daycare centers and in-home providers
- Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, for the Childcare Nurse Consultant and I Smile program which provides nurse consultation for health and safety and oral health care for child care providers in Jasper and Poweshiek Counties
Brua-Behrens reports that state funding from ECI has held steady, based on a formula using FIP data, which stands for Family Investment Program. “As the FIP cases go up and down, so does the funding. The good news is that as services increase, the number of FIP families may decrease,” she said. JMP also accepts private contributions to provide additional support to the various programs that support at-risk children and families.
Poweshiek County organizations serving young children may apply for JMP grants by contacting Brua-Behrens at 641-236-5518, firstname.lastname@example.org. Brua-Behrens can also assist individuals who wish to make private contributions to any of the early childhood programs within the JMP region.
JMP is a nonprofit partner organization of the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation, whose vision is to “grow community through giving.” The Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation provides back office support services to GPCF and partner organizations through its Community Support Services program.