Auburn and Hastings are recipients of the latest round of Child Care Partnership grants awarded by the Sixpence Early Learning Fund trustees. The grants are awarded to school districts who have partnered with local licensed child care providers to improve care for infants and toddlers at risk. The Child Care Partnership grants represent a significant new strategy in Sixpence’s efforts to narrow the achievement gap before children enter kindergarten. With the addition of the lastest grants, they will impact the quality of early learning experiences offered through community child care for over 700 of Nebraska’s infants and toddlers at risk.
Auburn and Hastings were selected from the pool of applications from the October 2015 RFP. They join existing grantees in Chadron, Gering, Sidney, Kearney and Falls City. Sixpence, a collaborative funding structure involving the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Nebraska Department of Education and private sector investors, overall has issued grants to community partnerships statewide since 2008, reaching 34 communities and more than 1,700 at-risk infants and toddlers.
The latest round of the Child Care Partnership grants utilize federal Child Care Development Funds, authorized by LB547, which was passed by the Nebraska Legislature in 2015.
Risk Factors Threaten Healthy Development
Nearly 30,000, or more than 40 percent of Nebraska children between birth and age 3, face risk factors that threaten their chances of arriving at kindergarten developmentally on par with their peers. These children are more likely to struggle in the K-12 system, attain a lower level of education, enter the criminal justice system as offenders, develop chronic health problems as working adults.
Neuroscientific, sociological and economic evidence show that stimulating and supportive experiences in the first years of life encourage the emergence of cognitive skills, behaviors and character traits that drive academic success and steer children toward healthier, more productive life outcomes.
“The success of Sixpence over the past decade shows Nebraskans understand the value of programs that help parents put kids on the path to success early in life,” said Amy Bornemeier, Sixpence Administrator and Vice President of Early Childhood Programs at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, which administers the grant program under the direction of the Sixpence Board of Trustees. "Connecting licensed child care providers with school districts and other local partners allows communities to make better use of the existing resources, facilities and early childhood workforce available to them,” Bornemeier said.
To be eligible to partner with their local school district, care providers must participate in Step Up to Quality, Nebraska’s quality rating and improvement system. Under the Sixpence Child Care Partnership grants, licensed providers receive coaching, access to professional development and financial support to achieve a Step 3 rating on a 5-step quality scale by the end of the third year of the grant.
Through the innovative school-child care partnership grants, Nebraska’s approach to the early education of our youngest, most vulnerable children is more efficient, effective and accountable, said Bornemeier.