Nearly 700 people representing close to 100 Nebraska communities, as well as 20 states and Washington, D.C., gathered for the third annual Thriving Children, Families, and Communities Conference on Sept. 14. The online event brought together community leaders from across Nebraska to focus on high-quality early childhood education and its connection to economic development and community vitality.
Linda Smith, early childhood initiative director at the Bipartisan Policy Center, was the featured 2020 keynote speaker. Smith, former deputy assistant secretary for early childhood development in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, spoke about critical issues and obstacles facing early childhood education and the special role for communities, businesses, and policymakers in charting a better path forward.
Also at the conference, Senator John Stinner announced a new statewide survey. In partnership with the University of Nebraska, Stinner invited Nebraska parents and business owners to respond to an online survey to share their experiences regarding child care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results of the survey, conducted in fall 2020, were shared with the Legislature's Appropriations Committee and incorporated into an interim study on the economic impacts of the pandemic on early childhood education and the overall costs of financing a high-quality early childhood workforce. Learn more
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After the Thriving Children conference, representatives from communities participating in the statewide Communities for Kids initiative engaged in further planning efforts. The Communities for Kids Convening was held online, also on Sept. 14. Communities for Kids, a Nebraska Children and Families Foundation initiative, is working with communities across Nebraska to advance their early childhood programming and services.
Learn more about the 2018 and 2019 Thriving Children conferences