Start Early. Start well.

No Small Matter: A Film Screening and Discussion

A series of 20 film screenings and forums with early childhood providers and teachers were held across Nebraska in January, February, and March. In response to growing demand, the Buffett Institute is working to arrange more screenings.

more than 1,100 nebraskans have viewed early childhood documentary

The Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission, the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska, and the Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children hosted a series of 20 film screenings and forums with early childhood providers and teachers across the state in January, February, and March 2019. Home-based, center-based, and school-based early childhood professionals serving children from birth through Grade 3 were invited to attend a screening of the film No Small Matter, followed by a roundtable discussion.

No Small Matter is a documentary that is designed to kick-start a public conversation about the critical need for high-quality early care and education. According to the producers, “No Small Matter is the first feature documentary to explore the most overlooked, underestimated, and powerful force for good in America today: early childhood education. Through poignant stories and surprising humor, the film lays out the overwhelming evidence for the importance of the first five years and reveals how our failure to act on that evidence has resulted in an everyday crisis for American families and a slow-motion catastrophe for the country.” View the movie trailer below.

Following the film’s screening, event organizers facilitated a discussion to gain feedback from those in attendance. Key themes that were explored included workforce compensation, professional preparation and qualifications, and the need for a sustained public commitment and funding to support high-quality early care and education in the state. Feedback on how participants see the needs of young children and their families and what is needed to meet those needs will be compiled and presented to the full Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission, which is charged with releasing recommendations and an action plan later in 2019.

The response by education professionals has been extraordinary, said Cama Charlet, program specialist with the Buffett Institute's workforce development team. The film screening and forum were held in partnership with Nebraska Early Learning Connection Coordinators and the Learning Child Team at Nebraska Extension.

"As people leave events, we are hearing them say that every Nebraskan should see 'No Small Matter,'" Charlet said, "both to highlight the challenges facing the early childhood workforce and also to build public support for high-quality early learning opportunities for all children."

“While facilitating a table discussion in one community, it was striking to see home-based, center-based, and K-3 teachers sitting together engaged in professional dialogue,” she said. “How often do we provide opportunities for education professionals across settings to share successes and struggles? A third grade teacher listened in shock as one in-home provider shared that the last time she’d had a vacation was in 2006 and another spoke of the thousands of dollars’ worth of medical costs she’s had to pay because of her lack of access to benefits.

“Bringing together teachers from across settings, uniting them in a shared experience, and providing them space to share their stories—these are experiences that unify the early childhood workforce,” she said. 

More than 1,100 people—900 of them early childhood educators—have viewed the documentary so far. Additional viewings are being set to continue the statewide conversation on these issues. Screenings have already been held for staff in the Office of Early Childhood at the Nebraska Department of Education and 170 early childhood teachers and administrators at Lincoln Public Schools. More scheduled viewings include: the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Prosper Lincoln, Leadership Omaha, Trinity Child Care at Trinity United Methodist Church in Lincoln, Westside Community Schools, and the Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative. 

Earlier 'No Small Matter' events

  • Jan. 7, McCool Junction
  • Jan. 16, York
  • Jan. 23, Lincoln
  • Jan. 24, Kearney
  • Jan. 25, Hastings
  • Feb. 5, Grand Island, Omaha
  • Feb. 6, Columbus
  • Feb. 10, Ogallala
  • Feb. 12, La Vista, McCook, O'Neill
  • Feb. 13, Norfolk
  • Feb. 14, Scottsbluff
  • Feb. 15, Chadron
  • Feb. 21, Beatrice
  • Feb. 26, North Platte, South Sioux City
  • Feb. 27, Auburn
  • March 5, Fremont

* Jan. 18 event in Broken Bow was canceled due to weather.

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