Education and Child Care in Greater Des Moines

a group of students walking on a colorful sidewalk

Creating an environment for Greater Des Moines (DSM) children and families to live, grow and thrive is valued here. From early childhood and on through high school (and post-secondary, too), you’ll find strong schools in Des Moines, Iowa communities and an abundance of programs that support and nurture the kids in the community.  

Affordable Child Care in Des Moines

In 2021, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Iowa Skills2Complete Coalition and the Governor's Child Care Task Force released recommendations from the Child Care Task Force Report that would increase affordable access to quality child care and promote stabilization in the child care workforce. Since then, 23 infrastructure projects, local businesses and center received $26.6 million for 23 in Child Care Business Incentive Grants, paving the way for more businesses to invest in child care resources through community partnerships. 

Utilize Iowa Child Care Resource & Referral for valuable information about child care in Greater Des Moines communities, and use the Iowa Department of Human Services database to research potential providers. The Iowa Quality for Kids (IQ4K®) serves as Iowa’s Quality Rating and Improvement System. The program helps providers create and implement improvement plans and provides quality indicators for parents as they search for care. DSM is home to several Head Start program locations, which ready children under five for their future educational journeys and provide accessible services. 

Preschool Options in Des Moines

The Iowa Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program serves four-year-olds and provides access to preschool programs through the region’s school districts and Head Start progams. Many daycare centers, community organizations and churches also provide preschool programs as well. 

Greater Des Moines K-12 Schools

Schools large and small dot Greater Des Moines and within their walls, you’ll find passionate educators who are equipping young minds for the future, all surrounded by community support.  

Public school districts within the region include: 

Private Schools in Greater Des Moines

If private school is the right choice for your family, the region has several accredited private school options, including: 

Educational Support Programs

a child in a wheelchair plays while an adult looks on

Several services, nonprofits and agencies in DSM are here to support you and your family and meet your specific needs. A few programs that serve the region include: 

  • Iowa’s Area Education Agencies provide numerous resources and services to identify and support children’s special education needs.  
  • ChildServe is a nonprofit that comes alongside families to identify and meet the unique needs of children with developmental delays, disabilities, injuries and other special healthcare needs. 
  • Balance Autism is a leading autism service organization that provides a balance of innovative therapy and passionate care. 
  • Easterseals Iowa provides people with disabilities or special needs and their families services and equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities. 

Post-Secondary Career Preparation Programs

As students progress into upper grades and into post-secondary settings, they can access many post-secondary preparation programs and work-based learning initiatives.  

ICAN helps students discover their talents, plan for the future and gain an understanding of financial aid programs and options. The program’s student success advisors support career exploration, guide decision-making and provide valuable insights into post-secondary options 

Apprenticeships and internships that help create equitable learning opportunities and set learners up for success. Through skills-based training programs, students gain perspective on the workplace, get experience in various industries and are better equipped to determine a career pathway that is right for them. Earn and Learn Iowa is one such program that supports work-based learning.

At Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), apprenticeships have expanded to high schools, creating pathways to local career options. There is no better way to learn the skills of tomorrow than through mentorship and on-site training.

Learn more about post-secondary education and workforce training.

Greater Des Moines’ Commitment to Equity in Education

a group of diverse people taking a photo

Equity is a key component to building healthy, inclusive communities, educational spaces and work places. In DSM, more than 200 local CEOs signed a CEO Commitment to Racial Equity in DSM, recognizing their own roles in creating a space where all are welcome. When it comes to education, partnerships between schools and private entities can lead to planning for the future, providing access to opportunities and so much more. A few examples of this locally include the United to Thrive Campaign and year-round internships with Y-EXCL at the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families.  

Public schools across DSM focus on equity through family engagement, equity standards, purposeful relationships and inclusive resources. School districts receive annual equity training at the elementary and secondary levels, while a Methods of Administration Program ensures students have equal access to career and technical education programs.