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Legislative report highlights serious challenges for early childhood programs due to COVID-19

First Five Nebraska (FFN) recently collaborated with early childhood partners and policymakers on the release of the Appropriations Committee of the Nebraska Legislature Legislative Resolution 390 (LR390) Interim Study Report, “Examination of the Fiscal and Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Nebraska’s Early Childhood Workforce and the Early Child Care and Education System.”

LR390 was introduced by State Senator and Appropriations Committee Chair John Stinner, District 48, to explore the impact of the pandemic on Nebraska’s early childhood care and education system. The report aims to ensure the state’s early childhood system is stable to support children’s development, and well as families, communities and businesses during and after the crisis. FFN joined with the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska to assist with the interim study.

The report’s findings come after a public hearing in September 2020 that included testimony from early childhood experts, business leaders and government agencies. FFN Deputy Director Elizabeth Everett offered insights into “The Bottom Line,” a report by FFN and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s Bureau of Business Research that shows Nebraskans lose up to $745 million annually in direct losses due to inadequate child care. State Senator Stinner also initiated two statewide surveys of parents, child care providers, and business owners, with more than 1,200 respondents from nearly every county about how the pandemic had impacted them.

Among the LR390 Interim Study report’s key findings:

  • 231 licensed providers have permanently closed during the pandemic.
  • 78% of Nebraska early childhood businesses who responded reported making changes to employee shifts due to child care issues.
  • In addition, 71% businesses responded they have had employees miss work due to child care issues. 

LR390 builds on previous research by the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission, a 40-member panel charged with developing a comprehensive plan to strengthen and expand the state’s early childhood workforce.

This interim study report makes it clear that as Nebraska focuses its effort on recovery, the challenges facing the early childhood sector will require leadership and collaboration from both the public and private sectors. FFN  is working with lawmakers and economic leaders to promote broader investment in Nebraska’s early childhood system. One of these efforts, LB531, The Nebraska Child Care Contribution Tax Credit, would offer tiered tax credits to individuals and businesses who make qualifying contributions to support  the availability of quality child care statewide.

More information on LR390:

LR390 Full Report and related materials

State Senator Stinner’s Omaha World-Herald Opinion Editorial

Matthew Hansen of BECI’s LR390 column

The Bottom Line report overview

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