All early childhood programs in Des Moines Public Schools, regardless of how they are funded, are under the same leadership. Staff in each program follow the same policies and procedures, receive the same professional development, and use the same curriculum and assessments. Programs are held to the highest of standards and are more alike than different.
The following is an overview of our preschool options in Des Moines:
Universal preschool is a state funded program designed to provide voluntary, universal access to high-quality preschool education programs for the state’s 4-year-olds. This is our largest program serving over 1,100 children. Classrooms are located throughout Des Moines in comprehensive schools, in our DMPS Early Learning Centers, and in partner locations.
Head Start is a federally funded comprehensive child development program that serves income eligible children ages 3 to 5 and their families. The Des Moines Head Start program is a delegate of the Drake University Head Start program and serves over 400 children.
The Shared Visions Preschool program is supported by the State of Iowa and provides quality child development programs for high-risk children in 51 Iowa counties, including here in Polk County. The preschool programs serve children ages three to five and are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Des Moines Public Schools is home to the only public Montessori program in Iowa at Cowles Montessori School, which educates students through 8th grade. Cowles provides both a full-day and morning-only preschool for 3- and 4-year old children.
Early Childhood Special Education
Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) services are available for eligible children three to five years of age. ECSE staff assist in the identification, assessment and development of an individualized educational plan for eligible children. A continuum of services are available tailored to meet the individual needs of each student, including integrated classroom settings with Head Start, Universal Preschool, and self contained programming. ECSE classrooms are located throughout Des Moines in comprehensive schools and in our DMPS Early Learning Centers.