The Nebraska Legislature is now more than halfway through a particularly challenging 90-day session. The budgetary shortfall has put increased pressure on publicly funded systems statewide, including those affecting the early care and education of Nebraska’s youngest children at risk.
Among these, LB335 is scheduled for discussion this week on the floor of the Legislature. This bill temporarily freezes the biennial adjustment in reimbursement rates for child care providers who serve young children eligible for the child care subsidy. In effect, the bill prevents providers from keeping pace with the steadily increasing costs of delivering developmentally positive early experiences to young children at risk until 2019. The current reimbursement rates are here on our website.
LB335 offers very limited and non-sustainable savings to the state, potentially at long-term costs to Nebraska’s children and taxpayers. By making it more difficult for providers to deliver quality early care and learning opportunities to children at-risk, this bill does not reflect the Legislature’s longstanding, strategic commitment to ensuring more young Nebraskans are better prepared to succeed in school and beyond.
We are working with state policymakers to explore ways to connect child care subsidy reimbursements to provider quality ratings as reflected by their participation in Step Up to Quality. We’ll continue to update you as those conversations develop.
Given the amount of work before the Legislature, it is not yet entirely clear when LB335 will be discussed this week. If you're interested in weighing in on this or other policy issues affecting young children, be sure to contact your senator soon.