Sound, practical early childhood policies require the voices of informed and engaged citizens in our state legislature.
First Five Nebraska makes it easier for individual citizens to be heard where decisions affecting our youngest children are being made.
LB 105: Liability Insurance for Child Care Providers
On April 3, 2013, the Governor signed into law LB 105, which requires any new child care provider to obtain liability insurance, prior to licensure, of at least $100,000 per occurrence. Current child care providers have until July 1, 2014 to secure liability insurance. Parents trust their child will be safe in the care of a licensed child care provider. Requiring licensed providers to carry liability insurance is a basic protection for parents and their children, but it also is a good protection for child care providers. Liability insurance is not cost-prohibitive for providers, and should be required for anyone seeking approval from the State to care for groups of children.
Resource: First Five Nebraska's Written Testimony on LB 105 (pdf)
LB 190: Expanding Nebraska's Sixpence Program Serving Infants and Toddlers
LB 190 proposed to expand access to high quality early childhood experiences proven to reduce the achievement gap in children 0-3 who are at risk of failing in school through the Sixpence Early Childhood Endowment. Services are currently offered across the state, but reach only about 1% of infants and toddlers most at risk of failing in school. Superintendents, members of the business community, military, and other supporters offered tremendous expertise to the Appropriations Committee during the hearing on LB 190. Legislators responded to research that shows the most critical period of brain development for children takes place during the first three years of life. $4 million for each of the next two years (FY 2013-14 and 2014-15) for LB 190 was incorporated into the budget bill, LB 195, and signed into law by Governor Heineman on May 28.
Resource: What happens when children receive high quality early experiences? (pdf)
Resource: Sixpence Talking Points for LB 190 (pdf)
LB 234: Home Visitation Funding
Funds for LB 234, providing $250,000 each year (FY 2013-14 and FY 2014-15) for nurse visitation services, were also included in the biennial budget. One out of three of Nebraska’s youngest children are subject to risk factors that threaten their ability to thrive in school and beyond. Early childhood investments, including home visitation opportunities, not only show reductions in child maltreatment, but also help parents learn positive parenting techniques through coaching opportunities. Many first time mothers and their babies benefit from these voluntary services – often beginning during pregnancy – that develop a supportive relationship with the family and emphasize the power of parenting for a child’s success.
LB 483: Parent Education for Incarcerated Parents
Originally introduced focusing on parents of children ages birth to five, the Legislature approved LB 483, which establishes a pilot program for parent education and early literacy development for incarcerated parents seeking to establish a better relationship with their children in order to facilitate successful, family-focused reentry programs. Children with involved parents are more successful and perform better academically and socially in school, have less mental health and behavioral problems, and are less likely to be involved in crime. The Governor signed LB 483 into law on June 4.
Resource: First Five Nebraska's Written Testimony on LB 483 (pdf)
LB 495: Expanding Services for Children 0-5 At Risk in Nebraska
Over the last several years and even during the most difficult of budget times, the Education Committee has demonstrated a strong commitment to quality early childhood investments. Among other things, LB 495 appropriates $1 million over the next three years to the Sixpence Cash Fund to expand high quality services for infants and toddlers at risk. The bill also allocates funds to preschool grants for school-based programs serving children aged 3-5. These funds will come from the Nebraska Lottery’s Education Innovation Funds. LB 495 was approved by the Governor on April 24.
Resource: First Five Nebraska's Written Testimony on LB 495 (pdf)
LB 497: Distribution of State Lottery Education Innovation Fund
LB 497 will change the allocation for the Nebraska Lottery Education Innovation Fund through June 30, 2016. In addition, by December 31, 2014, the Education Committee will conduct an interim study and submit a report to the Legislature on their recommendations for how lottery dollars should be distributed for education purposes beginning July 1, 2016.
Resource: First Five Nebraska's Written Testimony on LB 497 (pdf)
LB 507: Accountability for Public Child Care Dollars
While in Nebraska in January 2013, Dr. Jack Shonkoff of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University made an insightful comment on the price of early education: “The most expensive thing in early childhood is a poor quality program with no return on investment.” LB 507 brings a level of accountability – and a better return on investment – to $95 million dollars of publicly-funded child care in Nebraska. The system will also provide a path to higher quality for providers, provide information to parents on quality early care and education, and improve child development and school readiness outcomes. In its final version, LB 507 also expands child care services to more low-income, working families.
Recognizing that LB 507 will help children, working parents, providers, and taxpayers, the Governor approved this legislation on June 4.
LB 585: Learning Communities Tax Levy for Early Childhood Programs
While the Legislature is still divided over the concept of the Learning Community, its members found common ground on early childhood. As introduced, LB 585 changed the current optional two-cent property tax levy that learning communities can use for elementary learning centers. As passed, LB 585 diverted some of that levy to early childhood programs. It changed the two-cent levy to one-half cent for elementary learning centers.
It also expanded the use of the remaining one and one-half cent levy to be used for early childhood education programs for children in poverty. The Governor signed LB 585 into law on May 8.
LB 586: Basic Requirements for Licensed Child Care
LB 586 was withdrawn during the legislative session because the requirements listed within this bill were passed through the administrative regulatory process in the Child Care Licensing Act. One of the critical updates to the Child Care Licensing Act is that it prohibits any person with a criminal history of child abuse, kidnapping, and other child-related or violent crimes from operating or working in a child care program. It was a necessary step for the basic safety of children in child care in Nebraska.