Shared Leadership and Financing

Together, we’re moving toward a more coordinated, accountable and effective framework so Nebraska’s early childhood systems can better serve our youngest kids.

What is Shared Leadership and Financing?

Nebraska’s Shared Leadership and Financing (SL&F) initiative is a public-private effort to explore and recommend strategies for creating a fully funded and aligned system to ensure access to full-day, year-round, high-quality early care and education for children regardless of the setting and experiences parents choose.

It was established in 2020 as a component of Nebraska’s Preschool Development Grant (PDG) to advance Goal 4 of Nebraska’s Early Childhood Strategic Plan, addressing the alignment of statewide systems to deliver integrated, comprehensive early childhood services.

A Nebraska-specific framework

Nebraska’s early childhood systems—child care licensing, subsidy, program quality improvement, home visiting and more—are distributed across multiple organizations and agencies with their own processes, requirements, data sources, revenue streams and areas of legal and fiscal authority. This creates significant challenges to the efficient, coordinated and equitable use of resources that support parents in guiding the healthy development and education of their youngest children.

Some states address these challenges by consolidating their early childhood systems under a new government entity or as a single administrative division within an existing agency. In contrast, Nebraska’s Shared Leadership and Financing initiative is exploring ways to build upon successful areas of collaboration between agencies that currently administer early childhood programs. The intent is to enable these partners to retain their specific obligations and areas of authority while growing collaboratively toward a more unified, aligned framework for early childhood systems and supports.

Shared Leadership and Financing Overview
Download “A Synthesis of Nebraska’s Shared Leadership and Financing Efforts.” This document provides a detailed outline of the initiative’s participants, key objectives, deliverables, recommendations and next steps.

Stakeholder involvement

The work of this initiative is led by the Shared Leadership and Financing Task Force, as well as various workgroups and committees. These efforts involve a broad array of stakeholders including legislators and state agency officials, legal and public policy advisors, K-12 and higher education representatives, employers, economic developers, nonprofits and philanthropy.

The ongoing input and active participation of families, early childhood providers and community leaders is particularly essential to develop and fine-tune a truly comprehensive, aligned early childhood system in Nebraska.

Recommendations and activities

Recommendation: Conduct a cost of quality study to estimate the true cost of providing child care that meets licensing requirements as well as higher standards of quality.

Activity: National experts in cost model development have created an interactive tool that estimates the actual expense of delivering child care services in Nebraska’s current statutory and regulatory environment. This resource will help inform policies to guide our state toward a more sustainable child care infrastructure.

Development of the Nebraska Child Care Cost Model involved extensive input from the project’s advisory committee and focus groups consisting of child care professionals, program administrators and initiatives that support child care providers. The cost model will be available on First Five Nebraska’s website in January 2024.

Recommendation: Conduct further quantitative and qualitative analysis of early childhood funding streams.

Activity: Building upon the groundwork laid by an earlier SL&F workgroup, stakeholders from the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) and Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) have fully mapped every state and federal funding stream supporting early childhood services in Nebraska. These partners are analyzing and updating this information on an ongoing basis.

Additional efforts are currently underway to develop Nebraska’s Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS) for further analysis of funding streams, advancing the state toward its systems alignment and shared leadership goals.

Looking ahead

The Shared Leadership and Financing Task Force will reconvene in 2024 to:

  • Review progress on the specific recommendations and activities outlined above
  • Create a Shared Leadership and Financing model implementation plan
  • Identify improvements to legislative and regulatory policy in support of the SL&F goal of achieving a fully funded and aligned early childhood system in Nebraska
Amy Bornemeier
Amy Bornemeier

Policy Liaison

The Shared Leadership and Financing initiative is funded through Nebraska’s Preschool Development Grant (PDG), with additional financial support from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI) and the National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers (NCIT). The initiative and its activities are coordinated by First Five Nebraska.