Start Early. Start well.

2021 Thriving Children, Families, and Communities Conference

September   27 , 2021 12:00 AM

Thriving Children Conference

Visit to register.

The critical role that high-quality early childhood education plays in the ability of children, families, and entire communities to thrive is clearer than ever before.

Please plan to join us online Sept. 27 for an exciting day of learning, sharing, and inspiration as community leaders from across Nebraska come together to focus on high-quality early childhood education and its connection to economic development and community vitality.

This free conference is intended for community leaders, including those in education, economic development, child care, business, government, health care, higher education, and philanthropy. Attendees will learn about key research, program, policy, and outreach aspects of high-quality early childhood education programs and services and their important role in economic development. More than 700 local leaders, representing 100 Nebraska communities and 20 states, registered for this vital conversation at the 2020 conference.

During live-streamed sessions and panel discussions throughout the morning, community members and experts will discuss challenges, share success stories, learn from each other, and develop plans for implementing and sustaining high-quality birth – Grade 3 care and education.

In the afternoon, representatives participating in the statewide Communities for Kids initiative will engage in further planning efforts. This Nebraska Children and Families Foundation initiative works with communities across Nebraska to advance their early childhood programming and services.


Rosemarie Allen and Bina Patel Shrimali will be the featured keynote speakers at this year’s conference.
Allen, president and CEO of the Center for Equity & Excellence in Denver, Colo., is a national expert with more than 30 years' experience in education. Allen has served in directorship roles with the Colorado Department of Human Services, where she oversaw the state's child care licensing program, the federal child care assistance program, the state's quality rating and improvement system, and other initiatives. Allen also serves as president and CEO of the Institute for Racial Equity & Excellence (IREE), where she has worked to ensure equity in educational practices with numerous federal and state entities, police departments, school districts, and other organizations.
Shrimali, community development research manager at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, leads efforts researching structural barriers to economic opportunity for low-income communities and communities of color with a focus on advancing healthy and resilient communities, a thriving labor force, and inclusive financial systems. Shrimali also spent time with the Alameda (Calif.) County Public Health Department, where she launched projects focused on economic development to improve the health of young children and families.



The conference will offer a collection of breakout sessions focused on economic development/community vitality, early childhood research and evaluation, early childhood programs, early childhood policy, communications and outreach, and philanthropy. Each breakout session will be held twice and recordings will be made available to registrants following the conference.

A sample of breakout sessions can be found below and more sessions are still being added. For the most current list of breakout sessions and descriptions, visit the Thriving Children, Families, and Communities Conference webpage.

Leveraging New and Evolving Policies, Credits, and Funds to Support Local Child Care
The critical need for early childhood care and education has been elevated at federal, state, and local levels, leading to unprecedented emphasis and powerful new funding possibilities for communities. Learn what these tax credits, evolving financial incentives, and new funding opportunities mean, and how to access and leverage them to support your local child care needs.

Safer Communities, Brighter Futures
Fight Crime Invest in Kids – a national bipartisan membership organization of over 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors – will host a panel discussion focused on law enforcement's support for evidence-based high-quality early childhood programs. Research shows that these early years can set the foundation for school success, reduce involvement in the criminal justice system, and improve public safety. These critical assets promote social and economic opportunity as safer communities are more likely to retain and attract residents, skilled workers, and business/industry.

Quality Early Care and Education Revisited: What It Means and What It Takes
Early childhood programs are often designed and developed without input from families, professionals, and communities. This can negatively impact equitable access to quality early care and education for children. This session will look at how Nebraska defines quality and share a number of principles and processes that can help your community's early childhood settings ensure that each child and family thrives.

Diapers to Diplomas
Learn more about "Rule 11" and how Shickley leveraged Nebraska's Department of Education regulations to transform a child care desert in rural Nebraska. Hear from a superintendent and a school board member about how innovative thinking and the Diapers to Diplomas program have helped the school remain an active and vibrant resource in the community.

Nebraska Early Childhood Strategic Plan: Collaborating Across Communities
The Nebraska Early Childhood Strategic Plan is a dynamic plan developed by and for Nebraskans to provide all children and their families with access to quality early childhood services that support children’s healthy development from birth through age 8. Join the conversation to learn how the strategic plan will support communities in coordinating local resources and build capacity to meet the needs of families and children.

Understanding Fundraising Basics
Successful fundraising requires much more than “making an ask.” Hear from philanthropy experts and learn about researching potential funders, building relationships, asking questions, understanding key terms, and delivering a well-constructed proposal.



Additional details, including registration information, speakers, and the conference agenda, will be posted at This site will continue to be updated as information becomes available.

View previous conference content by visiting our 2018 or 2019 webpages and our 2020 video gallery and downloadable materials site.





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