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.

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 University of 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.

2019 Presentations

  • Welcome, by Samuel Meisels and Douglas Kristensen
  • Opening Remarks, by Sen. Tom Briese
  • Keynote Presentation: What Thriving Looks Like and What It Takes, by Helen Raikes
    Presentation Slides | Video
  • Panel Presentation: Community Success Stories - Success Is Possible, moderated by K.C. Belitz
    Presentation Slides | Video
  • Panel Presentation: Economic Development and Early Childhood, moderated by Elizabeth Everett
    Presentation Slides | Video


View program
Download news release
View news coverage of event

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

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

Scroll to top