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Nebraska Early Childhood Research Is in the Spotlight

Dr. Lynne Vernon-Feagans gave the keynote address on her research with The Family Life Project.Also presenting at the conference were several distinguished professors and graduate students from CYFS, an interdisciplinary division of the College of Education & Human Sciences at UNL. The research summit allowed CYFS to showcase its cutting-edge early childhood research conducted in Nebraska. The economic impact of early childhood education in Nebraska, promoting early language and literacy skills, professional development for child care providers and factors affecting kindergarten readiness were among the topics.Challenges facing rural parents who lack higher education are affecting their children’s early development in language and other areas, said Dr. Lynne Vernon-Feagans last week at the annual CYFS Summit on Research in Early Childhood in Lincoln. Dr. Vernon-Feagans, from the University of North Carolina, discussed early findings from a longitudinal study, The Family Life Project, which is following 1,300 rural children from birth.

Dr. Vernon-Feagans said researchers are finding diverging destinies between rural college-educated parents and high school-educated parents. Lower income and non-standard work hours are among the factors influencing how much time parents are able to spend with children and the quality of interactions between them. For example, development of a 24-hour economy limits parents' ability to be present during mealtimes and bedtimes, she said. Although these data are concerning, the project also has identified important early experiences that may buffer rural children at-risk for negative outcomes. Dr. Vernon-Feagans urged policymakers to be cognizant of the challenges facing families in rural America when thinking about early childhood.  

Researchers from across the globe traveled to Lincoln for the Summit, which we co-sponsored with the Buffett Early Childhood Institute and the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS) at the University of Nebraska‒Lincoln. The summit brought together numerous national experts, as well as researchers from as far away as Turkey, to discuss emerging issues in early childhood development and education.

 

Left: Eric Buchanan (left), Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, and Dr. Samuel Meisels, Executive Director of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, attended the research summit.

 

Right: Dr. Lynne Vernon-Feagans gave the keynote address on her research with The Family Life Project.

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