In the two years since the release of the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission’s groundbreaking report, Elevating Nebraska’s Early Childhood Workforce, the state has made concrete progress in support of the report’s vision, goals, and recommendations.
Among others, commission members and the organizations they represent are engaged in collaborative statewide efforts to address urgent needs of Nebraska’s early childhood workforce. Collaborating with partners in communities across the state, commission members continue to work to build the capacity of Nebraska to support early childhood educators in providing quality early care and education to every child.
With more than 75 percent of Nebraska children under age 6 in some form of care while parents work, coupled with unparalleled human growth and brain development occurring from birth through age 8, the implications of early care and education are enormous for children, families, and Nebraska communities. This individual and societal responsibility is placed upon an early childhood workforce that is compensated at or near the poverty level and is poorly supported.
Current initiatives are aligned with commission goals and also align with the goals of the Nebraska Early Childhood Strategic Plan. The plan, developed by and for Nebraskans, seeks to ensure that all children have access to quality early childhood services. This collaborative work is being developed and implemented with federal funding from the Preschool Development Grant (PDG) Birth through Five initiative. Informed by the commission’s work, a three-year PDG renewal grant was awarded to Nebraska in 2020.
“In 2021, commission members and their organizations worked together to make significant progress toward key recommendations outlined in the commission report,” said Susan Sarver, director of workforce planning and development at the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska. “As a state we are working to elevate Nebraska’s early childhood workforce.”
Some of the work, outlined below, will continue and grow in 2022–2023:
• Nebraskans will continue to engage in efforts to further develop the Nebraska Early Childhood Strategic Plan, with a focus on identifying strategies and action plans for accomplishing its goals. Stakeholders will be invited to participate in conversations to ensure the plan addresses the priorities and needs of Nebraskans in diverse and unique communities across the state.
• Continued collaboration among institutions of higher education will focus on developing a Responsive Equitable System for Preparing Early Childhood Teachers (RESPECT) across Nebraska.
• Continued collaboration among partners at the University of Nebraska will lead to the development and pilot testing of the Early Childhood Evidence-Based Investment Dashboard© (E-BID©), which will help leaders make informed decisions about how best to invest in early care and education to stimulate economic growth while improving access to quality ECE.
• Implementation of a statewide public outreach and education campaign will build support for quality early childhood care and education and the early childhood workforce.
• The Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Leadership Cadre, a diverse group of 26 early childhood professionals, birth through Grade 3, from across settings, will work together to collectively grow their capacity to lead change efforts in the communities where they live and work.
• The statewide Implementation Advisory Group, composed of stakeholders from across Nebraska whose work is aligned with the commission’s vision and goals, will work collaboratively to guide ongoing efforts to elevate Nebraska’s early childhood workforce and prioritize implementation activities.
To learn more about the commission’s ongoing efforts, you can access the two-year update here.