First Five Nebraska policy staff and early childhood researchers from all five University of Nebraska campuses kicked off the second cohort of the Policy Fellows Program recently. The Nebraska Academy for Early Childhood Research (NAECR) and First Five Nebraska began the unique collaboration to learn about each others’ work and explore connections and potential opportunities between research and policy to enrich early childhood experiences for Nebraska’s children and families. This year’s program will be a series of four conversations and a panel presentation between October 2021 and April 2022.
The 2021-2022 Policy Fellows bring a wide array of expertise and research experience:
- Alex Daro, Ph.D., research specialist, Buffet Early Childhood Institute
- Jenna Finch, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
- Anne Karabon, Ph.D., associate professor of early childhood and STEM education, University of Nebraska at Omaha
- Marisa Macy, Ph.D., Cille and Ron Williams Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education, University of Nebraska at Kearney
- Amanda Prokasky, Ph.D., assistant professor of education and child development, University of Nebraska Medical Center Munroe-Meyer Institute
FFN Director Jason Prokop, Policy Advisor Adam Feser and Data and Policy Research Advisor Katie Bass walked through the legislative process in Nebraska during the first gathering, highlighting elements of the Nebraska Unicameral and the various ways citizens can participate in the legislative process. For the upcoming December conversation, each Policy Fellow will introduce FFN’s policy team to their current research agenda and its applicability to early childhood policy.
“It’s important that policymakers know the most up-to-date research on early childhood, and we want to ensure that early childhood researchers understand the policy needs in the state of Nebraska,” said Bass, “but ultimately, this program is about building that bi-directional relationship. It’s not just about awareness of what each other is doing, but finding ways we can work together to best serve Nebraska’s youngest children.”
Applied research builds the foundation for effective early childhood policies and initiatives. By connecting policymakers and Nebraska’s research experts, our early childhood system will benefit.