As a policy associate at First Five Nebraska, my objective is to help provide effective, fiscally responsible policy solutions, if needed, to support parents and provide quality learning environments for all children in our state. This past legislative session, I was fortunate to support several early childhood bills that were passed in the Legislature and approved by Governor Ricketts. These bills will help our communities and departments that oversee early childhood programs thrive.
Communities can now access local economic development funds to build or improve early childhood facilities (LB160). The Governor also approved a bill (LB590) that will allow Nebraska Health and Human Services (DHHS) employees access to the Nebraska Early Childhood Professional Record System (NECPRS) to streamline the department’s efforts to verify child care employee training records.
While progress has been made, there is still more to be done. Several communities in Nebraska remain in child care deserts, with no child care options readily available to working parents. Since Nebraska is ranked second in the U.S. for percentage of married couple families with both spouses in the labor force and has the fifth highest birth rate, it’s imperative that we provide enough child care resources and early learning opportunities to support both our current and future workforce.
This summer I will be traveling to different Nebraska communities to learn about their early childhood infrastructure. I look forward to building relationships and working with community members to identify any barriers to, and consider strategies for, developing quality early learning programs. As always, my goal is to be a resource and help as much as I can. If you’re interested in having First Five Nebraska visit your community or give a presentation about the importance of quality environments during a child’s earliest years, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please view our blog throughout the summer for updates on my travels throughout the state.
Elizabeth Lopez Everett
First Five Nebraska