The Data Dialogue: Family Needs In Our Community

March 10, 2020 | United Way Team

Read more about the importance of family support and stability for children in our community.

brittany-simuangco-596656-unsplashAssessing the needs of children in our community, and more specifically children in vulnerable situations, is key to ending the cycle of poverty. Research indicates that the brain develops more in the first 2,000 days of life than any other time. Investing in strategies that support young children leads to improved education, employment, and health as they grow older. [1]

That’s why United Way of East Central Iowa (UWECI) and Linn County Early Childhood Iowa (ECI) collaborated for 18 months between 2018 and 2019 in order to complete an Early Childhood Needs Assessment and Community Plan. This report is broken into three large sections based on each ECI core service (Child & Maternal Health, Early Care & Education, Family Support & Stability). We have previously highlighted health and education in earlier blog posts, so our final installation will discuss family support and stability.

Types of Family Support:

  • Over 650 family support and parent education professionals serve more than 12,000 families across Iowa. [2]

State and Federal Resources:


  • 10% of Linn County families below the poverty level have a child under age five.[3]

What is going well for young children in our community?2018-2019 Learning Lab-27

  • Whole family approach
  • Free specialized support services for child behavior issues
  • Data helps us identify vulnerable neighborhoods
  • Access to a network of child and family support services

What challenges are young children facing today?

  • Disparities in family outcomes and indicators
  • Housing instability
  • Child maltreatment rates are increasing
  • The Cliff Effect

What strategies are being put in place to address the challenges and build on the strengths found in this report?

  • Invest in two generation/whole family approaches
  • Promote a unified policy agenda to address factors impacting family stability
  • Support quality programs and a diverse family support workforce
  • Reduce child maltreatment by targeting the risk factors most closely correlated with abuse and neglect
  • Promote care coordination efforts
  • Promote accessible and culturally responsive resources
  • Increase awareness of trauma informed care and resiliency practices

If you would like to learn more about the strengths our community possesses, the challenges it faces, or strategies to create change, please view the executive summary on our website titled, The Condition of Children 2019.

[1] Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students. 2019.

[2] Iowa Department of Public Health. Iowa Family Support programming. Iowa Family Support Impact. 2019.

[3] U.S. Census Bureau. American community Survey 5-Year Estimate. Table S1702. 2017