Growing up, we both enjoyed the gifts of family and neighbors. We played in the dirt, relished the county fair, and savored the first bites after helping Mom cook in the kitchen. Our early years were full of good, wholesome nourishment for body, mind, and soul.
We still see that richness in our home towns and in towns all across the state. We believe that Nebraska’s greatest resource is its people. Yet, our towns continue to face very real challenges, and so do the families that call Nebraska “home.” Changes in the economy, technology, education, and society in general all have an enormous impact on parents’ abilities to meet the needs of their young children. Children’s needs, however, remain constant: safe and healthy homes, stimulating learning experiences and loving, supportive interactions with parents and caregivers.
An overwhelming body of research has found that the skills developed in early childhood are the same skills needed to build and maintain strong communities. Confidence, resourcefulness, and perseverance are formed in homes—as well as child care settings and preschools—long before children ever reach K-12. While government cannot and should not assume the responsibilities of parents, the Nebraska Legislature does play an important role in setting public policy that enables parents to raise their children to the best of their abilities. We believe that is something worth investing in.
So, working together, and with both rural and urban Nebraska in mind, we introduced LB489 and LB547 during the 2015 legislative session. This legislation strengthens efforts proven to build parents’ abilities as caregivers and educators of their infants and toddlers. That means more children, especially those most at risk, will experience the kinds of life-shaping early interactions that we experienced as children. It also transforms Sixpence, Nebraska’s successful public-private early childhood education partnership, by involving private child care in collaborations with school districts. By maximizing existing resources and increasing flexibility in communities across Nebraska, we shape public policy that supports parents in providing their young children with the kinds of early experiences that foster the emerging cognitive and character traits they will need for success in school and in life.
Thank you to our colleagues in the Nebraska Legislature who demonstrated true bipartisanship in passing this important legislation and to Governor Pete Ricketts for signing it into law this week.
Senator Kate Sullivan
Legislative District 41
Senator Kathy Campbell
Legislative District 25