Start Early. Start well.

February 22, 2017

National Symposium Focuses on Well-Being of Early Childhood Workforce

Omaha, Neb. — A national symposium hosted by the Buffett Institute today in Omaha will focus on cutting-edge research and practical strategies for supporting the well-being of the early childhood workforce.

"The Importance of Well-Being for Early Care and Education Providers" will feature presentations by national and local experts, who will focus on stress and well-being in the early care and education workforce, and promising directions in research and practice; exploring well-being for Nebraska’s early care and education workforce; the scientific case for supporting care in our communities; and reaction from a national perspective.

The early childhood workforce faces a number of circumstances that can contribute to poor mental health and well-being, including poverty-level wages, substandard working conditions, and lack of opportunities for training and advancement. Depression, stress, and other mental health conditions commonly reported by early childhood professionals can affect the quality of care young children receive.

Featured presenters include:

  • Marjorie Kostelnik, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska ΜΆ Lincoln.
  • Kathleen Gallagher, teacher education professor and Cille and Ron Williams Community Chair for Early Childhood Education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and an educational psychologist affiliated with higher education child development and early education programs for more than 20 years. 
  • Susan Sarver, director of workforce planning and development at the Buffett Early Childhood Institute.
  • Amy Roberts, research specialist at the Buffett Early Childhood Institute whose work has focused on early childhood caregiver well-being.
  • Lisa Flook, scientist at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison whose research has investigated the negative consequences of academic and interpersonal stress on children and adolescents.
  • Marica Cox Mitchell, deputy executive director for early learning systems at NAEYC responsible for the association's major program efforts in early childhood program and higher education accreditation. 

The half-day symposium is being hosted in cooperation with the National Academy of Medicine's Innovation to Incubation Program. The program brings together state teams and national organizations to discuss opportunities and barriers to implementing recommendations of the recent consensus report, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. A state team from Nebraska is participating in the Innovation to Incubation Program as part of a cohort of states including Colorado and Minnesota. The cohort members are meeting with other state teams from across the country Feb. 22 through 24 in Omaha.