“Early care and education is the primary thing parents are looking at when considering moving to Norfolk,” said Gabriel Steinmeyer of the Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce at this week’s Thriving Children, Families and Communities conference in Kearney. His remarks were made during a panel discussion led by FFN Senior Policy Associate Elizabeth Everett on the role early childhood plays in a community’s growth and vitality.
Elizabeth also selected Catherine Lang from the Nebraska Business Development Center, Andy Long of the McCook Economic Development Corp., and Bryan Seck from the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development to share their expertise during the discussion.
As Nebraska strives to fill the 58,000 open jobs in the state, quality early childhood care and education has emerged as a key component in a community’s infrastructure that impacts the ability to draw working parents to put down roots, raise their families and grow the local economy.
There’s a twofold benefit when communities establish high-quality early childhood programs—parents can be confident their children are safe and well cared for, which allows them to focus on the job, and children benefit from high-quality early care and education throughout their lives. Research shows they become better students, better employees and better citizens, which directly connects our children’s development to Nebraska's future success.
Creative ways employers can support parents
Elizabeth also presented a conference workshop on how employers can better understand the needs of their employees and find easy, creative, no cost/low cost ways to promote information about quality child care and other supports to help working parents succeed as productive employees and effective providers for their families.
During morning and afternoon sessions, conference goers had the opportunity to learn about using economic development funds to build child care infrastructure, creating a fund development plan and additional ways employers can attract and anchor skilled workers in their communities.
More than 425 people from 92 Nebraska communities and several other states came together for the Thriving Children conference. We were honored to be one of the event’s hosts along with the Nebraska Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, Nebraska Community Foundation, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, Buffett Early Childhood Institute, Buffett Early Childhood Fund and Nebraska Extension.