The Miss Iowa Youth Program is a scholarship based pageant that allows young girls to highlight their talents and style while enriching their communities. Girls compete for the titles of Li'l Miss Iowa and Junior Miss Iowa. There is no national pageant, but the winners of the Li'l and Junior titles have a year-long titleholder experience. This is a very similar pageant to the Miss America pageants and prepares girls to go on to the Miss Iowa or Miss Iowa's Outstanding Teen stage. Many Miss Iowa Youth titleholders have gone on to hold Miss America titles as well.
The First Li'l Miss Iowa was crowned in 1994, and the first Junior Miss Iowa was crowned in 2003.
The Miss Iowa Youth program was once affiliated with the Miss Iowa (America) Scholarship Program and the girls were crowned in the same pageant as the Miss and Outstanding Teen contestants. However, around 2014, the Miss America Organization changed their rules, which made it so MAO pageants cannot be part of any system other than MAO and MAOT.
Despite this, the pageant community in Iowa is very close-knit and supportive of each other.
Currently, the Miss Iowa Youth Program does not hold any pageants for local titles. When a contestant registers for the state pageant, they get a "local title" that usually matches up with a local title in the Miss Iowa (America) system. The girls still get a local crown and sash, however, and get to have the local titleholder experience. This is another way that the Miss Iowa Youth Program prepares young women for the older pageant systems.