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The FFN Digest

Here's a quick look at what's impacting Nebraska during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Click the links for more detailed information.  

July 2, 2020

Business Support and Economic Recovery

  • Funding available for child care reopening and relief: Applications for the Stabilization of Child Care & Incentive to Reopen Child Care Funds open at 9 a.m. CDT, on Monday, July 6. Funds are intended to relieve the financial burden of the pandemic and can be used for rent/mortgage payments, salaries, cleaning supplies, PPE and other allowable expenses. Learn more at nebraskachildren.org/childcare-funds.
  • Businesses embrace coronavirus safety: The National Safety Council, Nebraska Chapter, partnered with chambers of commerce statewide to launch Be Safe Nebraska. The initiative allows companies to pledge to adopt safety practices focused on keeping their employees, customers and partners safe during the pandemic. Learn more at safenebraska.org/besafe.

 

State & Federal Government

  • New Directed Health Measures affect child care: Dakota, Hall, Hamilton and Merrick counties will see their coronavirus-related restrictions ease on Monday, July 6. The four counties will join the rest of the state under Phase 3 for Directed Health Measures and be able to further open up child care centers, bars, restaurants and large gatherings. Read about what the changes mean for providers.
  • New deadline for PPP applications: The House and Senate passed a bill this week to extend the filing deadline for Paycheck Protection Program loans through August 8, 2020. The bill will go to President Trump to be signed into law. As of the initial deadline, approximately $130 billion in unspent funds was still available for small business relief.

 

State and National Early Childhood Partners

June 19, 2020

Business Support and Economic Recovery

  • U.S. Small Business Association accepting grant applications: The SBA has resumed accepting applications for forgivable grants for small businesses and nonprofits through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs as of June 18. EIDL loans are long-term, low interest financial assistance to businesses and can be used to cover payroll and inventory, pay debt or fund other expenses. Applications already submitted will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Apply at SBA.gov/disaster.
  • Child care benefits affect parents' employment decisions: Family care benefits, including subsidized backup child care, ranked above other employee benefits as reasons parents stay in a current job or pursue a new one, according to Work+Life Report, a Care.com study published earlier this year. In a recent article, HR Daily Advisor reflected on the findings of the study as they relate to shifts in workplace benefits, employee well-being and even consumer behavior in the age of COVID-19.
  • Live webinar for Get Nebraska Growing: Governor Ricketts, Nebraska DED Director Tony Goins and the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce will host a webinar Tuesday, June 23, noon to 1 p.m., to provide updates on the Small Business Stabilization grants as well as other economic stimulus initiatives made possible through CARES Act funding.This virtual event is free and open to the public.
  • Small Business Stabilization Grants deadline is June 26: There's one week left to submit applications for Nebraska's Small Business Stabilization Grants. Nebraska-owned businesses with 5 to 49 employees that have closed or sustained a loss of revenue or employment resulting from COVID-19 are eligible to apply. Learn more and apply.
  • State Chamber urges support for child care: The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry signed a letter to Congress urging federal support for licensed child care, which will play a key role in getting parents back to work in the months ahead. 

 

State & Federal Government

  • New directed health measures affect child care: New DHMs that loosen restrictions on child care programs throughout the state go into effect June 22. Four counties--Dakota, Hall, Hamilton and Merrick--will enter Phase 2 of Nebraska's recovery plan, while the rest of the state moves into Phase 3. Read more about what it means for providers on First Five Nebraska's blog.
  • Bill would create the Child Care Stabilization Fund: Members of the House and Senate recently introduced the Child Care is Essential Act (HR7027 and S. 3874). The bill would appropriate an additional $50 billion to the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to create the Child Care Stabilization Fund. The fund would award grants to enable providers who have remained open or temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 emergency to continue or resume operations. 

 

State and National Early Childhood Partners

  • New NAEYC Survey for child care providers: Whether your child care program is reopening, never closed or is still in limbo, NAEYC wants policymakers and the public to know about the challenges child care providers are facing. Please complete and share this survey in English or in Spanish by June 30 to help inform the next set of potential policy actions so they can effectively support child care across all states and settings.
  • New Buffett Early Childhood Institute column: “Our Preschoolers Can Help End Racism - If We Help Them First” discusses systemic racism and how to ensure children grow to be champions for equality.
  • Study on families coping with COVID-19 crisis: The RAPID-EC Research Group recently published, “Under the Same Roof, for Better and for Worse: Households with young children are experiencing both increased conflict and high levels of closeness during the pandemic.”
  • ReadyNation webinar on home-cased child care: ReadyNation will host a webinar for release of their report, “Home-based Child Care: A Surprising Key to Keeping the American Workforce Strong,” Wednesday, June 24, at 9 a.m. CDT. The report discusses policy options to sustain this essential component of the child care landscape. Register here.
  • NAEYC releases brief on ECE higher education and COVID-19: “From On Campus to Online: The Impact of the Pandemic on ECE Higher Education Programs” is based on faculty responses from 230+ higher education institutions on COVID-19-related challenges facing the ECE higher education community.
  • How states are using CARES Act funds: Child Trends has published “States Are Using the CARES Act to Improve Child Care Access during COVID-19” which looks at how states are using CARES Act funding to meet immediate child care needs of families and child care providers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Webinar on resources to aid COVID-19 recovery: "Early Childhood Data: Responding to COVID-19 and Building for the Future" is a joint publication of the Data Quality Campaign and Foresight Law + Policy looking at resources and steps to aid communities during COVID-19 recovery. The webinar will be Wednesday, July 1, at 2 p.m. CDT. Register here

 


June 12, 2020

Business Support and Economic Recovery

  • Small Business Stabilizaton Grant application process opens Monday, June 15: Nebraska Department of Economic Development DIrector Tony Goins announced that the application period for a new round of Small Business Stabilization Grants will run from June 15 to June 26. The grants are intended for businesses between 5 and 49 employees in size and cap at a maximum grant amount of $12,000. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so qualifying child care providers should plan to submit their applications as soon as possible. The stabilization grants are one of four new CARES Act-funded programs announed today during a special press briefing hosted by Governor Ricketts. The grants are intended to help spur the state's economic recovery from the COVID-19 emergency by offering working capital for small businesses, creating workforce training opportunities and expanding broadband access. For more information:

 

  • State Chamber Hosts Deep Dives: The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry is hosting a series of Deep Dives on Relief & Recovery Strategies for Nebraska businesses to coincide with the recently released survey results on how the pandemic has impacted Nebraska businesses:​
    • Recording of the first Deep Dive, featuring State Chamber President Bryan Sloan
    • Summary of the Relief & Recovery Strategies
    • Results from the statewide COVID-19 business survey
    • Upcoming schedule of Deep Dives

 

  • Grand Island Loan Fund: The City of Grand Island has created the CDBG Revolving Loan Fund to provide financial assistance to existing businesses within the city that are facing economic hardship due to the coronavirus. The priority of the fund is to retain low-to-moderate paid jobs within the city of Grand Island. Read more about the Revolving Loan Fund.
  • Tips for Small Business Owners: In a new blog, the Nebraska Small Business Development Center offers tips to help small business owners recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • PPP Updates: The Bipartisan Policy Center published a summary of changes to the Paycheck Protection Program signed into law last week.

 

State and National Early Childhood Partners

 


June 5, 2020

Business & Economic Support

  • PPPFA Signed Into Law: Today, President Trump signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Forgiveness Act. The new law provides additional flexibility for PPP borrowers to qualify for forgiveness and eases the restrictions on the how much of the loan must be used for payroll costs. The legislation will be a welcome relief to borrowers as it reduces the complexities around loan forgiveness. Read more.

 

State Agencies

  • NDHHS Announces Grant Allocations: The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced this week how $20 million in CARES Act funding would be allocated to strengthen early care and education projects. The allocations include additional relief grants, stabilization grants and reopening incentive grants for Nebraska's child care providers, funding to develop the newly launched Nebraska Child Care Referral Network, and support for afterschool and summer learning programs.
  • NDE Guidance on Finding Quality Care: The Nebraska Department of Education has released guidance that outlines steps parents can take to identify quality child care when maintaining social distance practices.

 

State and National Early Childhood Partners

  • Early Childhood Virtual Training: NAEYC has opened their Virtual Institute and is offering free access to more than 100 presentations from experts in the child care industry. These resources will be available June 1 - July 17.
  • National Database of COVID-19 Legislation: The National Conference of State Legislatures has an interactive database on COVID-19 legislation. The site allows you to search legislation starting in 2020 by state, topic, keyword, year, status or primary sponsor using the state legislation.
  • Child Care COVID-19 Survey Results: The RAPID-EC research group has published the article, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place, "which breaks down the data from their survey as it relates to families, children and early child care providers in the time of COVID-19." The article provides a series of recommendations to prevent a child care shortage crisis.

 


May 29, 2020

State Agencies

  • Reopening Guide for Schools: The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) introduced Launch Nebraska, a guide for schools on following public health experts' recommendations when making decisions about reopening facilities and resuming activities statewide. 

 

Nebraska Legislature

  • Senator Carol Blood from Bellevue distributed 2-1/2 gallon containers of hand sanitizer to 16 area child cares and preschools to thank them for caring for children of essential workers during the COVID-19 emergency. 

 

State and National Early Childhood Partners

  • Nebraska Child Care Referral Network Provider Portal Goes Live:  Licensed child care providers can now register to manage their own program information on the recently launched Nebraska Child Care Referral Network website. The Provider Portal allows users to update open slots by age group, contact information and website. Providers will need their license number to register their user account for the portal: https://www.nechildcarereferral.org/register
  • New EC Policy and Advocacy Resources: The National Conference of State Legislatures (CSL) has released their Early Care and Education Quarterly Update. It includes a number of resources to help policymakers and advocates navigate COVID-19.
  • Report Highlights Family Challenges during Pandemic: The Urban Institute has released its report, “Parents Are Struggling to Provide for Their Families during the Pandemic,” highlighting findings about job loss, hardship and challenges facing families with children due to COVID-19. 
  • Report Examines Pandemic Impact on Child Care Systems: “Child Care’s Struggle to Survive Covid-19: State Impacts and Responses,” is a recent report by The National Women’s Law Center. It examines how the pandemic and recession are affecting state child care systems, how states are responding to the impacts on their child care systems and what gaps remain in efforts to sustain these systems.
  • Updated Guidance on CARES Funding: The Office of Head Start has released updated guidance on funding available through the CARES Act.

 

Business & Economic Support

  • 13 Weeks of Additional Unemployment Benefits Now Available: Nebraska workers who have exhausted their state unemployment insurance benefits can apply for an extension of benefits through the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (PEUC). PEUC provides up to 13 weeks of additional assistance for people who exhausted their 26 weeks of state unemployment insurance benefits on or after July 6, 2019. The benefit is available for weeks ending Saturdays from April 4 to Dec. 26, 2020. More information and FAQ.
  • LB840 Funds for Chadron Small Businesses: The Chadron City Council is asking for public input on a potential plan to use LB840 economic development sales tax money to create a revolving loan fund assistance fund for Chadron businesses. There is currently $288,000 in the fund. As businesses seek to build back following the pandemic, programs such as this would be a vital step to ensure they have the necessary funding to reopen and serve their communities.
  • Norfolk Gift Card Program: Businesses in Madison County are eligible to apply for the Regrow 2020 Gift Card Program, launched by the City of Norfolk, Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce and Norfolk Area Economic Development Council. The program is open to businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19 and applications are due by 12 p.m. on Friday, June 5. English application and guidelines; Spanish application and guidelines.
  • Economic Resilience and Recovery Presentation: An online presentation delivered this week by Eric Thompson, director of UNL’s Bureau of Business Research, explored key factors affecting our state’s response to the economic disruptions of the COVID-19 crisis. Notably, child care was among the state’s top 5 industries most severely affected as measured by initial unemployment claims. 

 


May 21, 2020

State and National Early Childhood Partners

  • COVID-19 Recommendations: The Buffett Early Childhood Institute released recommendations to aid early child care and education programs as they operate in the era of COVID-19. BECI’s Matthew Hansen discussed the resource with Sam Meisels, BECI founding director, in a video interview.
  • Robins Foundation Child Care Advocacy Webinars:
  1.  Child Care Advocacy in a Post-COVID World: Session #2 - A Different Kind of Strategy: hear from successful child care and multi-issue children’s advocacy groups from around the U.S. – Tuesday, May 26, 1 p.m.- 2:30 p.m. CDT
  2. Child Care Advocacy in a Post-COVID World: Session #3 - Lessons From Different Fields: hear from successful advocates in other fields (like environmentalism and workers’ rights) about lessons child care can apply – Monday, June 1, 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. CDT

 

Business & Economic Support

 

Nebraska Legislature

  • Legislature to Reconvene: Speaker Senator Jim Scheer has set July 20 as the date senators will return to the Capitol and reconvene for the final 17 days of this year's Legislative session. Senators' teleconference confirmation hearings for several gubernatorial appointees will be held by the Health and Human Services Committee May 27 and May 29. Additional details can be found on the Health and Human Services Committee webpage; links to observe the hearings will be provided on the Committee's webpage the day of each hearing.

 

Federal Policy 

 


May 15, 2020

Feature Story

 

Business & Economic Support

 

Federal Policy

 

State and National Early Childhood Partners

 


May 8, 2020

Business & Economic Support

 

State and National Early Childhood Partners

 

Feature Story

 


May 1, 2020

Governor's Office

 


April 21, 2020

State and National Early Childhood Partners

 


April 27, 2020

Governor's Office

 

Federal Policy

 

Business & Economic Support

 

State and National Early Childhood Partners

 


April 21, 2020

Governor's Office

 

Business & Economic Support

 

State and National Early Childhood Partners

 

Feature Story

 


April 17, 2020

Feature Stories

  • Governor Ricketts announces Executive Order 20-18:  The Governor's new Executive Order (EO) will temporarily allow currently operating child care programs to claim subsidy reimbursements based on enrollment rather than attendance. The directive is intended to reduce the financial impact on providers resulting from lower attendance, and keep child care slots open for families when they return their children to care. EO 20-18 also includes provisions that will allow subsidy-eligible families who have lost access to their licensed provider to temporarily secure in-home child care services from license-exempt providers if other options are unavailable. Read our overview of EO 20-18 on the First Five Nebraska blog.
  • Nebraska Business Response Survey: The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nebraska Department of Economic Development, University of Nebraska system and other partners have launched an online survey to take the pulse of the state's business community as they navigate the ongoing COVID-19 emergency. This is an important opportunity for many of Nebraska's child care programs to make their voices heard as an important part of the state's business landscape. Read more about the survey and how to get involved.
  • What CARES Act Education Stabilization Funds Mean for Early Childhood in Nebraska: The CARES Act, signed into law last month, earmarks $30.75 billion in Education Stabilization Funds for education systems nationwide. Learn more about Nebraska's allocation, and how these funds might affect early childhood programming throughout the state. 

 

Business & Economic Support

  • Paycheck Protection Program halts new applications: The U.S. Small Business Administration announced on Thursday it was no longer accepting applications for the Paycheck Protection Program or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs related to COVID-19 after the agency reached the program's $349 billion lending limit.

April 14, 2020

Feature Stories

 

State and National Early Childhood Partners

 

Business & Economic Support

 


April 10, 2020

State Agencies

 

Business & Economic Support

 


April 9, 2020

State and National Early Childhood Partners

 

Feature Story

 


April 8, 2020

Governor's Office

 

Nebraska Legislature

 

State Agencies

 

State and National Early Childhood Partners

 


April 7, 2020

Nebraska Legislature

 

State Agencies

 

State and National Early Childhood Partners

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