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State looks at strengthening early childhood system amid pandemic

by Elizabeth Everett, First Five Nebraska Deputy Director

During the past legislative session, Chairman of the Nebraska Legislature’s Appropriations Committee Senator John Stinner introduced LR390, an interim study to examine the fiscal and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nebraska’s early childhood workforce and the early childhood care and education system. The goal of the study is to ensure the early childhood care and education system is stable and can support children’s development during and after the COVID-19 crisis and to support families, communities and businesses while rebuilding the state’s economy.

In September, the Appropriations Committee held a hearing on LR390 and listened to testimony from a family home child care provider; a small business committed to helping employees acquire quality child care; First Five Nebraska; the Buffett Early Childhood Institute; the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services; the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission. The Workforce Commission is a 40-member workgroup from the public and private sectors who over three years studied Nebraska’s early childhood system. They developed a vision, goals and recommendations to elevate the early childhood workforce to a priority profession to benefit all children from birth through age 8.

Significant challenges with COVID-19
As most of the testifiers concluded, the child care industry is experiencing significant challenges in the face of COVID-19. As a result, it’s more urgent than ever that we find ways to make our state’s child care system more resilient and sustainable if we want to mobilize the workforce we need for economic recovery. Learn more about the LR390 legislative hearing

Chairman Stinner and the Appropriations Committee, First Five Nebraska, and the Buffett Early Childhood Institute are working together to create a report on LR390 and provide some possible legislative solutions to help the early childhood industry. The goal will be to introduce some of these policy recommendations in future legislative sessions.

As always, First Five Nebraska will keep you updated on the progress of this study and any additional items that develop as a result of LR390.

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