Heather Rouse

Heather Rouse


Equity is a value that has motivated Heather Rouse her entire life. Throughout her 20 years in the early childhood field, she has seen firsthand the impact of our society’s most fractured, inequitable systems.

Seeing the big picture is a skill that has served Rouse her entire life. And now as project co-director for I2D2, she is marrying her passionate commitment to vulnerable children and families with her incisive ability to identify and advocate for evidence-based, data-driven solutions to our nation’s greatest challenges.

With nearly two decades of experience studying and developing integrated data systems for policy research, Rouse brings rigor and savvy to I2D2. Her ability to communicate across technical and non-technical audiences, along with her ability to connect dots, make her an ideal leader for Iowa’s first integrated data system for decision-making.

“I view data as a way to bridge the gap between science and practice,” she says. “I am passionate about ‘connecting disconnects’ to better support children and families, and believe in the power of I2D2 as a conduit for that work.”

Rouse’s training and experience spans three U.S. states, including formal education from one of the country’s most prestigious Ivy League psychology programs.

Since 2015, Rouse has been assistant professor of human development and family studies at Iowa State University, where she conducts substantial research in partnership with state and municipal agencies on a wide variety of child and family policy subjects—including early education, child welfare and homelessness, and access to health care. She teaches courses on child and family policy as well as infant mental health, and serves on her department’s graduate education committee.

She was previously the director of health policy research at the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas from 2011-2015. From 2010-2011, she worked as deputy research director for the Philadelphia Policy and Analysis Center (home to Philadelphia’s integrated data system) on a policy fellowship from the Stoneleigh Foundation after earning a trio of degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (B.A., psychology, 1999; M.S.Ed., psychological services in education, 2000; Ph.D., school, community, and clinical child psychology, 2007). Her dissertation, “What’s Behind Being Behind: A Population-based Investigation of Multiple Risks and Early School Success” used Philadelphia’s integrated data system to examine health, child welfare, homelessness, and educational outcomes of young children. She has since published numerous additional articles using administrative data.  

Rouse’s work building and using integrated data systems has been recognized nationally through invitations to serve on federal grant review panels and advisory groups, including as Iowa’s representative on the National ECIDS Leadership Workgroup on Stakeholder Engagement and in the Health Research Services Administration Community of Practice Data Sharing and Use in Home Visiting Programs and Policy sponsored by Child Trends. In 2019, as a result of her work with Dorius on Iowa’s Early Childhood Statewide Needs Assessment, she was invited by the Iowa Department of Human Services to serve as a state representative to the White House community listening sessions on the national child care crisis.