Start Early. Start well.

2019 Thriving Children, Families, and Communities Conference

September   16 , 2019 8:30 AM –  4:30 PM

2019 Thriving Children conference

Kearney, Neb.

Thriving children and families make for thriving communities!

Please join us on Sept. 16 for an exciting day of learning, sharing, and planning as communities from across Nebraska come together to focus on high-quality early childhood education and its connection to economic development and community vitality. This year's conference is in response to statewide calls for assistance and offers an opportunity to share success stories, learn from each other, and develop action plans for implementing high-quality birth – Grade 3 care and education.

The conference is intended for community leaders—including those in education, economic development, child care, business, government, health care, higher education, and philanthropy—who have an interest in learning more about high-quality early childhood education programs and services and their important role in economic development.

The keynote speaker this year is Dr. Helen Raikes, Willa Cather Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She will talk about what it takes for caregivers, educators, and communities to help children really thrive and reach their potential.

Panel discussions and workshops will feature community leaders from across the state who will share how they built high-quality early childhood programs and discuss why quality early childhood care and education is an economic development tool that can attract and retain a quality workforce and grow our state's economy.

There are twice as many workshop sessions as last year. Topics this year include no-cost/low-cost ways employers can help working parents, communicating effectively with policymakers about early childhood, building school-community partnerships, creating a community fundraising plan, and using state economic development funds for early childhood projects.

View and download the conference agenda


Register for Conference

On Sept. 17, representatives participating in the statewide Communities for Kids initiative are invited to meet to discuss successes and challenges and to connect and share strategies.

Conference Sponsors

  • Nebraska Department of Education (NDE)
  • Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
  • First Five Nebraska
  • Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
  • Nebraska Community Foundation
  • Nebraska Extension
  • Buffett Early Childhood Fund
  • Buffett Early Childhood Institute

Conference Partners

  • Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children (NeAEYC)
  • Nebraska Association of School Boards (NASB)
  • Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC)
  • Nebraska Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Nebraska Council of School Administrators (NCSA)
  • Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative
  • Nebraska ESU Coordinating Council
  • Nebraska Head Start Association
  • Nebraska Hospital Association
  • Nebraska State Education Association (NSEA)
  • Panhandle Partnership, Inc.
  • Rural Futures Institute

Both days of the conference will be held at the Younes Conference Center, 416 Talmadge Street, Kearney, NE 68845. Watch for conference agendas, session descriptions, and presenter biographies coming soon.


2018 Thriving Children, Families, and Communities: The Role of Early Childhood Programs

Last year, nearly 300 civic, business, and education leaders--from 74 communities across Nebraska--gathered in Kearney on Sept. 17 for the first Thriving Children, Families, and Communities conference. Learn more

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