With true bipartisanship, Nebraska senators passed and Governor Ricketts signed legislation to allow partnership between child care providers and schools to help young children receive the kinds of early experiences known to foster cognitive and character skills that lead to success in school and life.
As child care professionals, we know that good quality early childhood environments matter.
Child care and education fall under the purview of two different systems in Nebraska, and each approaches early childhood from a unique standpoint. For the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees child care, the issue revolves around ensuring that children’s fundamental requirements for health and safety are met while in care. Nebraska’s education system, on the other hand, focuses on whether children begin kindergarten ready to learn and prepared to advance academically. The science of early childhood development tells us that these two aspects of child development shouldn’t be addressed as separate considerations. Early child care environments are, or ought to be, learning environments—just as the health and safety of young children are necessary for quality learning to occur.
We know that a significant number of Nebraska’s children arrive at kindergarten unprepared to learn. In fact, more than 64,000 children ages birth-5 are at risk of failing in school. Of these, about 30,000 are infants and toddlers who are not receiving the kinds of early experiences known to support strong brain development during the first three years of life.