More than 400 community leaders—including those in
education, economic development, child care, business, government, health care, higher education, and
philanthropy—met Sept. 16 in Kearney to focus on high-quality early childhood education and
its connection to economic development and community vitality.
The keynote speaker this year was Dr. Helen Raikes, Willa Cather Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies at the
Nebraska-Lincoln. She talked about what it takes for caregivers, educators, and communities to help children really
thrive and reach their potential.
Panel discussions and workshops featured community leaders from across the state who shared how they built
high-quality early childhood
programs and discussed 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.
- 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
- 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
On Sept. 17, 2019, representatives participating in the statewide Communities for Kids initiative met to discuss
successes and challenges and to connect and share strategies.
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