Start Early. Start well.

September 09, 2021

Institute Begins Meeting With Child Care Professionals Across the State—'We're Coming to Learn'

Child care provider and little boyThe Institute's learning tour began last week with a visit to 11 Lincoln child care professionals. Here, Traci Bergt  holds a child at Kelly's Kids Learning and Development Center.

By Duane Retzlaff

The Buffett Institute has launched a statewide learning tour with early childhood professionals.

The tour, which began last week with a visit to 11 Lincoln child care professionals and which will continue through the fall, has a simple goal—to learn from the people who are educating and caring for young children in Nebraska.

“We’re not coming with an ‘ask,’” said Cama Charlet, manager of early childhood workforce initiatives at the Institute. “We’re coming to learn.”

Charlet and other members of the Institute’s workforce development team are setting up visits with dozens of child care professionals, and they’d be happy to see even more.

“We want to hear from as many people as possible,” she said.

Charlet and the other members of the Institute’s workforce team are focused on achieving the goals co-created with the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission, which released its Elevating the Early Childhood Workforce report in 2020. Much of the work of implementing the report’s recommendations is being accomplished with the help of federal Preschool Development Grant money awarded to Nebraska. The workforce team will use what is learned to inform the implementation of the commission report. That’s where the learning tour comes in.

“We will not do this work without them,” Charlet said.

The PDG work is led by Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services, with support from the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and in close partnership with the Nebraska Department of Education. The Buffett Institute is collaborating with these organizations to support assessment and evaluation efforts in addition to planning.  Learn more about the Institute’s PDG involvement here.

The learning tour is in some ways a continuation of the dialog begun two years ago with screenings in communities across the state of the “No Small Matter” early childhood documentary, Charlet said. “During the events, I heard from a number of early childhood professionals who said ‘we wish people could see what we do; we wish people could visit and see what we do every day.’”

“That’s part of the reason we want to do this, go into communities and visit members of the workforce—it is to honor them in their spaces, where they educate young children every single day,” she said.

Duane Retzlaff is a communications associate at the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska, helping share the Institute’s work with educators, child care providers, parents, policymakers, researchers, and the general public.

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