On May 13, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that Nebraska has been awarded a Preschool Development Birth through Five renewal grant from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. Nebraska will receive $8.9 million annually for the next three years to strengthen the reach, efficiency and coordination of early childhood services throughout the state. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services will oversee the grant, working in collaboration with the Nebraska Department of Education Office of Early Childhood and Nebraska Children and Families Foundation as sub-grantees. The federal award is matched by $2.7 million in existing state and private funds annually.
First Five Nebraska was one of several organizations who developed the state's grant application. According to First Five Nebraska Director Jason Prokop, announcement of the PDG award coincides with increased public attention on the importance of early childhood programs—especially quality child care—in Nebraska's response to the COVID-19 emergency.
“Nebraska's economic recovery efforts are fundamentally connected to the strength of our early childhood system,” said Prokop. “Absent a robust, well-coordinated and quality-focused child care network, Nebraska's working parents will face even more hurdles to remain fully engaged in the workforce, provide for their families and help rebuild the state economy. The Preschool Development Grant will help Nebraska move in the right direction.”
The grant focuses on alignment, integration and quality of early childhood systems, expanding parent knowledge and choice in child care options and strengthening the state's professional early childhood workforce, among other priorites.
“Now more than ever, it's important to find efficiencies in the way we invest in Nebraska's children, working parents and communities,” said Elizabeth Everett, senior policy associate for First Five Nebraska. “By leveraging the PDG to analyze and respond to statewide needs for quality early care and education, Nebraska is demonstrating the kind of accountability policymakers should expect in the use of public funds.”