It’s the role of parents to ensure their children benefit from safe, loving and stimulating experiences to help them learn and grow. That’s true whether they are being cared for at home with family, with a neighbor or in another setting. It’s also true that a great many Nebraska parents rely upon child care programs so they can go to their jobs and provide for their families, knowing their children are in the care of skilled early childhood educators throughout the workday. Unfortunately, many parents who would choose child care for their little ones cannot do so because the demand for quality early childhood education far exceeds the supply in most areas of the state.
Earlier this week, over a dozen Nebraska organizations gathered online to launch We Care for Kids, a public awareness campaign to promote access to quality early childhood education for families throughout the state. The campaign is partially funded through Nebraska’s federal Preschool Development Grant and coordinated by the Buffett Early Childhood Institute. Wednesday’s virtual launch featured comments from leading Nebraskans including University of Nebraska President Ted Carter, Nebraska State Senator John Stinner, Latino Center of the Midlands CEO Albert Varas, Grand Island Public Schools Superintendent Tawana Grover and Nebraska Association of School Boards Executive Director John Spatz.
Educators play crucial role
First Five Nebraska is participating as a We Care for Kids campaign partner alongside Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, Nebraska Community Foundation, Nebraska Extension, Northeast Nebraska Growing Together, Nebraska Association of School Boards and others. The campaign invites Nebraskans to recognize and celebrate the crucial role early childhood educators play in helping families prepare their youngest children for success in school and life.
We Care for Kids also draws attention to the growing struggle to attract and retain professional talent in this highly skilled profession. Despite its importance to Nebraska’s families, employers and economy, quality early childhood education offers long hours and heavy professional responsibility in exchange for low levels of compensation, benefits and career security. According to a recent survey of Nebraska center-based child care operators, nearly 70 percent of respondents indicated that staff members were pursuing job opportunities outside of early childhood education. This is a serious challenge not only to the developmental outcomes of our youngest children, but also to the social and economic well-being of our state.