First Five Nebraska and allied early childhood organizations presented the state's federal delegates with a series of policy proposals intended to extend financial lifelines to keep more child care providers viable as the COVID-19 epidemic tightens its hold on the state and national economies. The letter comes as a complement to a separate set of policy proposals delivered last week to state agency leaders at the Nebraska Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Labor.
The proposals include extending unemployment benefits to providers who find it necessary to suspend services indefinitely and disaster grant funding to allow certain programs to meet their operating costs while they remain open.
“We are going to need every quality child care owner, program operator and educator to have a pathway to remain in this profession if we hope to stabilize and recover from the current public health emergency,” said Elizabeth Everett, senior policy associate at First Five Nebraska. “That means putting financial lifelines in place and streamlining regulations so more providers can rebuild and strengthen this critical industry in our state.”
Also included in the recommendations to federal delegates:
The letter was endorsed by representatives of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, First Five Nebraska, Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative and the Buffett Early Childhood Institute. It was sent to U.S. Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse, and Representatives Jeff Fortenberry, Don Bacon and Adrian Smith.
“We fully recognize that this emergency puts every sector of our society and economy under extreme stress, and that state officials and federal delegates are being asked to address a wide range of concerns during this emergency,” said Jason Prokop, First Five Nebraska director. “In the end, it comes down to people—and whether they’re given the opportunity to work so they can provide for their families and keep our communities, state and nation moving in the right direction. We can’t do that without preserving and strengthening a viable early childhood infrastructure. Child care is going to be essential to our recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.”
Guidance through this all is very important. Pray we don’t lose providers in this unreal event. We are already struggling with not enough caregivers, for those families that need care. We need to keep providers and support a field that has struggled for too long. We are essential for the health of Nebraska.