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Blueprint Nebraska offers bold vision for state’s early childhood education and infrastructure

To remain competitive in a global marketplace and create sustainable economic prosperity statewide, Nebraska needs to step beyond the status quo. That was the message of the recently released Blueprint Nebraska plan, a comprehensive statewide initiative led by the state’s brightest business, agricultural, educational and government minds.

Over the course of a year, Blueprint Nebraska gathered feedback from more than 7,000 Nebraskans and industry leaders to identify challenges and build a roadmap of strategic initiatives to shape the state’s future. As champions for our youngest citizens, we are excited to see the plan include robust early care and learning infrastructure among its priorities.

The plan proposes to “revolutionize all educational segments from early childhood to career.” An enhanced early care and learning system goes far beyond just improving educational outcomes or test scores for Nebraska students. It would have a long-lasting impact on each of Blueprint Nebraska’s core aspirations:

  • Overall job growth
  • Increased quality-of-life ranking
  • Population growth of 18- to 34-year-olds
  • Median income growth
  • Increased research & development (R&D) investment

 

Reliable, affordable and high-quality early care enables more parents to pursue employment and financial security for their families. It’s also a powerful attractor of new talent Nebraska employers need to fill more than 58,000 vacant jobs. Some of that new talent may include the 18- to 34-year-olds Blueprint Nebraska is targeting to put down roots, grow their careers and raise their families in our state.  Abundant, high-quality options for child care will make it easier to keep these young people anchored in Nebraska.

Increased wages, professional development for EC workforce 
While quality child care is essential for anchoring young families, these programs won’t be available if there’s not a large enough early childhood workforce to support them. As long-established providers grow older and close their businesses, fewer younger providers are stepping in to take their place. The profession can be physically and emotionally demanding, with a relatively low median salary. As a result, many potential early childhood educators often turn their backs on the profession to seek higher paying opportunities. Blueprint Nebraska calls for strategies to make early childhood a more viable career path, including increasing wages for early childhood professionals, improving the content of programs and expanding opportunities for internships and professional development.

Blueprint Nebraska is a broad, ambitious and visionary plan that will require creativity and collaboration from leaders in all sectors—industry, government, education, agriculture and community development. We look forward to working alongside key stakeholders to build the conversation toward a robust, statewide early childhood system and realizing the long-lasting vitality and economic impact it would have for our state’s children and communities.

Stay tuned for additional analysis throughout the year as conversation around Blueprint Nebraska's plan and its initiatives unfolds.

Erika Felt
August 22, 2019

Since families can’t possibly afford to pay more for childcare what does this increased wage vision look like for inhome childcare educators?

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