Start Early. Start well.


September   17 , 2018 8:30 AM –  4:30 PM

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

Kearney, Neb.

Nearly 300 civic, business, and education leaders—from 74 communities across Nebraska—gathered in Kearney on Sept. 17, 2018, to learn more about how communities are already leading this effort and tying early childhood programs to the economic development and vitality of their communities.

Community leaders from Columbus, Crete, Falls City, Gothenburg, Lincoln, Millard, Ogallala, Omaha, Pender, Red Cloud, and Scottsbluff were featured in sessions throughout the day. Sponsors were the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, Buffett Early Childhood Institute, First Five Nebraska, Nebraska Association of School Boards, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, Nebraska Community Foundation, and Nebraska Extension.

Learn about the 2019 Thriving Children, Families, and Communities Conference

2018 Presentations

  • Keynote Presentation: High-Quality Early Care and Education: What It Is and What It Takes, by Kathleen Gallagher
    Presentation Slides | Video
  • Plenary: Developing and Supporting Nebraska's Early Childhood Workforce, by Marjorie Kostelnik
    Presentation Slides | Handout | Video
  • Panel Presentation: Redesigning Child Care to Promote Education, Support Families, and Build Communities, moderated by Joan Lombardi
    Presentation Slides | Video
  • Panel Presentation: Community Champions: Early Childhood Development Spurs People Attraction, moderated by Jeff Yost
    Presentation Slides | Handout | Video
  • Remarks by Sen. Matt Williams, Nebraska Legislature, District 36 
  • Opening remarks by Jessie Rasmussen, Sheryl Feinstein
  • Closing remarks by Jeff Yost


View photos of the event on Facebook.

View program

Buffett Institute/Gallup Survey handout

Download press release

View news coverage of event:

The next day, Sept. 18, representatives participating in the statewide Communities for Kids initiative met to develop local plans of action within their respective communities. Communities for Kids is a program of the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and includes more than a dozen communities who are receiving technical assistance to advance early childhood programming and services in their communities.

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