The current method used to verify qualifications of Nebraska early childhood educators in licensed programs is unnecessarily cumbersome, and a system already in use provides a simple solution.
Last year, 23 Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services licensing staff made more than 6,000 visits to child care providers, the majority of which involved checking to ensure staff met necessary training and professional education requirements for licensure. That process during visits involved pulling and checking paper documentation of professional development activities for every early childhood employee. This process is burdensome and time consuming. We believe there’s a better way to manage and track trainings and professional development of early childhood educators who work in Nebraska’s licensed child care settings.
The Nebraska Early Childhood Professional Record System (NECPRS) is an online database that supports professional development of early childhood professionals and quality improvement of early childhood programs in Nebraska. It allows professionals to track their experience, education, credentials and training electronically in one place as they advance in their career.
With no cost to the state, moving away from manually checking paper documentation and instead having all early childhood educators report their training levels electronically through NECPRS would expedite and simplify the process of verifying continuing education data.
Early childhood workers not already in NECPRS simply would create a profile with their qualifications, including experience, education and trainings. Having all information in one place would make it easier for licensing staff to verify training equivalencies, allowing experienced and highly qualified early childhood educators forgo redundant requirements. It also would remove the requirement that providers must hold, file and store paper records of their employees’ continuing education efforts. Said Suzanne Schneider, director of Westminster Preschool: “NECPRS has been a tremendous help for managing our program records in one streamlined location. The ability to maintain and monitor teacher training and inservice hours in an online system without cost to the center has been invaluable.” Cathy Martinez, a Nebraska family child care home II provider said if licensing staff could verify her training and qualifications before visiting, it would reduce the time of their visit and the interruption of attention to the children in her care.
Better Information for Parents
Nebraska statute 43-2606 states: “(2) The department [The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services] shall initiate a system of documenting the training levels of staff in specific child care settings to assist parents in selecting optimal care settings.”
A system that satisfies this statute is not currently in place. Reporting through NECPRS would bring the state into compliance with this statute without expending taxpayer money to build a new database. Finding a quality child care provider that meets a family’s expectations and needs currently is a difficult process, and this system would give parents more complete information to help them choose the best option for their children.
Data System is in Development
NECPRS is an important component of a project currently underway to create an early childhood integrated data system in Nebraska. If information on all early childhood workers was accessible in NECPRS, administrative and legislative policymakers could view the impact of different levels of education, types of training, experience offered and more to inform their policy decisions. It also would give policymakers a better understanding of state early childhood expenditures and staff qualifications.
First Five Nebraska is exploring legislation with no fiscal impact in the upcoming 2019 Nebraska legislative session that would expand the role of NECPRS to improve government efficiency, provide invaluable data to help policymakers make informed decisions, make the lives of Nebraska child care providers easier and improve parent choice by satisfying child care licensing statute 43-2606.
This is a win-win for both Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Nebraska Department of Education from a state administrative standpoint. More importantly, it does elevate the access for early childhood professionals in their own professional development planning and can be a tremendous resource for program directors and individual early childhood teachers and caregivers in the ongoing development of an integrated data system. A data governance body could monitor processes and determine whether or not efficiencies are being made. This is progress!