Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Lewellen and Ogallala with Brooke Bouck from Nebraska Children and Families Foundation (NCFF) to talk with people about the importance of early childhood.
Garden and Keith counties are members of Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s (NCFF) Communities for Kids initiative, which partners with communities’ public and private entities to support development and access of high-quality early care and education.
As part of this initiative, NCFF conducted a survey on child care needs in the two counties and learned that 91.49% of people in Keith County and 95% in Garden County think high-quality child care is extremely important to their community. Survey data also found 95.7% of people in Keith County and 94.4% in Garden County believe it’s extremely important to have reliable child care that does not cause work disruptions.
As the data indicates, early childhood is an economic development issue. Like many communities across Nebraska, Garden County and Keith County lack sufficient high-quality child care programs to support families. Often, parents miss work or even lose their jobs because there aren’t reliable, safe places for their children. Without a strong early childhood infrastructure, it’s very difficult for communities to attract and retain young working families.
Lewellen and Ogallala are beautiful communities. I greatly enjoyed meeting the wonderful people who are working hard to make their communities a great place to live and raise children. As always, First Five Nebraska will continue to support access to affordable, high-quality child care for parents and children in our state.
P.S. If you’re in the area, check out The Most Unlikely Place in Lewellen for delicious chicken salad and the Front Street Steakhouse and Crystal Palace Saloon in Ogallala for incredible BBQ!
Elizabeth Lopez Everett
Senior Policy Associate
First Five Nebraska