News from First Five Nebraska
January 2018


Our vision is that all Nebraska children begin kindergarten with the experience they need to become successful students and productive citizens.  


39% of Nebraska Young Children a re At Risk

New U.S. Census data show that 39% of Nebraska children ages 0-5 are at risk.  Children who begin school behind their peers often never catch up. A poor start in K-12 leads to poor academic achievement and lower rates of employment.

We've created maps showing the distribution of children at risk across our state's counties, and legislative and Congressional districts. 

The maps are available on our website, and are accompanied by sortable tables. Both maps and tables can be printed for your use. 


Quick Links
  • Kearney Hub: Workshop equips KPS educators with new tools to help students' social and emotional growth.
  • Omaha World-Herald: Kindergarten teachers are leading a movement in OPS utilizing play as a teaching tool.
  • UNL's Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS) released its annual report featuring their work on how technology affects children's learning and development; how children learn math  and an evaluation of rural after-school programs. 

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Nebraska Legislature Convenes 

January 3 marked the opening day of the 105th Legislature, Second Session, i n the  Nebraska Unicameral. This is the second year in a biennium cycle, which means senators will meet for a short, 60-day session slated to adjourn April 18.
Senators began the session debating bills carried over from last year that had public hearings and were awaiting deliberation. Speaker Jim Scheer indicated that 2017 carryover legislation without priority status will not be debated. Committees now are holding hearings on all new bills introduced this session; full-day floor debate begins February 28. 
There were a few procedural items on the opening day's agenda, including election of a new Committee on Committees chairperson.  Senator Robert Hilkemann was elected to that position left vacant when Senator Joni Craighead resigned. The body also welcomed newly appointed  Senator Theresa Thibodeau who will fill out the term of former Senator Craighead.
Senators face the challenging task of shoring up a $173 million budget shortfall due to lower-than-expected tax receipts. This follows a year in which the Legislature already closed a $1 billion gap. All indications are that several attempts will be made to control spending and cut both income and property taxes.
This is an election year in which 16 senators are up for re-election; six senators are in their final year due to term limits and one senator has chosen not to seek re-election. This means the 2019 legislative session will commence with at least seven new senators, a 15% turnover in the body.
to Watch

We've identified legislative bills across 10 categories with potential to affect early childhood, plus a more narrow Legislation to Watch list. The categories are: Budget/Taxes, Child Care, Child Safety, Child Welfare, Early Childhood Workforce, Economic Assistance/Public Benefits, Education, Physical & Mental Health, School Funding and Systems/Governance.
We update the status of these bills and produce a printable report daily during the legislative session, and a final report at the conclusion of the session.      
To date, we've testified on these bills:
LB803: Changes provisions related to kindergarten, early childhood education and the Step Up to Quality Child Care Act. Read our testimony
LB768: Redefines economic development program to include early childhood infrastructure development for cities of the first and second class villages. Read our blog.
LB880: Provides for an early childhood element as prescribed for cities with comprehensive plans.  Read our blog.
LR270CA: Constitutional amendment to reduce the minimum age in the Constitutional requirement to provide free instruction.  Read our written testimony.
                                              Read More

Who will you rely on to fix your car 20 years from now? Who will provide your health care? Manage your business? Monitor your retirement funds? 

We debuted four video PSAs this month that invite us to imagine the important role today's young children will play in our own lives someday. Whether it's as our health care provider, financial advisor, auto technician or construction manager, the start young children receive in their lives affects more than their own life trajectories.