First Five Nebraska is excited to begin work with senators on two interim studies after the Legislature adjourns for the year. The need for one of the studies emerged as Nebraska worked on a planning grant to improve the healthy development and school readiness of children at risk from the prenatal period to age 3. The other study grew out of findings by the Early Childhood Workforce Commission detailed in its report released by the Buffett Early Childhood Institute in January.
LR387: Accessing EDN services
LR387, introduced by Senator Wendy DeBoer, will examine the processes by which children from birth to age 3, who are the victims of a substantiated abuse or neglect, are able to access services through Nebraska’s Early Development Network (EDN) under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part C.
Children’s brains develop at a rapid pace during their first three years of life. Studies show abuse or neglect during these critical years inhibits brain development, resulting in physically smaller brains. Without intervention, consequences of this underdevelopment are long lasting and severe, leading to increases in the need of special education, incidence of substance abuse, increased high school dropout rates and incarceration rates and more. For these reasons and more, access to services to help children who are abused or neglected are vital. Through LR387 we’ll learn how many children are unable to access EDN services and gain insight into the barriers that prevent them from receiving help at a time when it is most important.
The study will include:
(1) Analysis of the percentage of children ages 0-3 who are victims of substantiated abuse or neglect and receive services through the Nebraska Early Development Network.
(2) Review of barriers to services for children ages 0-3 who have experienced abuse or neglect.
(3) Conversations with Nebraska Early Development Network leadership, regional Early Developmental Network leadership, Early Development Network service coordinators, Early Development Network evaluators, families and others from rural and urban settings.
(4) Evaluation of IDEA, Part C eligibility for children 0-3 with a substantiated case of abuse or neglect in surrounding states.
(5) Potential solutions to ensure these children have access to the services they need to thrive.
LR390: COVID-19’s impact on early childhood workforce
Introduced by Senator John Stinner, LR390 will assess the fiscal and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nebraska’s early childhood workforce and the early childhood care and education system, and look for ways to ensure the early childhood care and education system is stable enough to support children’s development during and after this pandemic and support families, communities and businesses while rebuilding the state’s economy.
This study will build upon “Elevating Nebraska’s Early Childhood Workforce: Report and Recommendations of the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission,“ released by the Buffett Early Childhood Institute in January. Senator Stinner served on the Early Childhood Workforce Commission, which looked at the many challenges facing Nebraska’s early childhood infrastructure, including the fact that quality care is too expensive for parents, pay is too low for early childhood educators and there’s a shortage of child care options across the state. COVID-19 has exacerbated many of these issues, and many child care providers are closing or on the brink of closing.
This study will examine:
(1) The fiscal and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the early childhood workforce and the early childhood care and education system.
(2) Federal and state investments and expenditures in Nebraska’s early childhood care and education system.
(3) The funding gap between current investments and the total investments needed to fully fund a high-quality early childhood care and education system in Nebraska.
(4) Financing options for closing the funding gap for a high-quality early childhood care and education system, including state and community-based model.