News from First Five Nebraska
February 2018


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


Action Alert        

The Nebraska Legislature's Appropriations Committee must present their state budget bill to the full Legislature by March 9. 

Now is the time to contact Committee members to defend investments in high-quality early care and education programs that benefit Nebraska's youngest children, particularly those who are at risk. 

You'll soon receive an Action Alert asking you to submit a letter urging Senators to retain current funding for early childhood programs in Nebraska. 

We hope you'll add your voice in communicating the value of early childhood to Senators.    

Registration is open for the CYFS Summit on Research in Early Childhood on April 25 at Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln. 

Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a research-to-practice expert, will give the keynote address; the free, daylong event also will include research presentations by UNL faculty and a graduate student poster session. Lunch and a reception are included.

Quick Links
  • Kearney Hub: Kindergartners through second-graders collaborate monthly on STEM challenges to spark interest in science, technology, engineering and math and cultivate social-emotional skills like cooperation and communication.
  • Omaha World-Herald: Early childhood education plan in Omaha is starting to produce results.
  • Lincoln Journal-Star: Groups are working together on a two-year initiative to educate parents about the importance of reading to children from birth.
  • The power of play -- researchers found that children who pretended to be Batman were more persistent when facing a potentially frustrating task.
  • Read Across America day is March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss. The annual event aims to motivate children to become lifelong readers. Learn More 

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Senators, Committees Select Priority Bills

The 2018 legislative session is past the halfway mark (today is Day 34 of 60). Last week was the final full week of committee hearings, and Senators will begin full-day floor debate on February 28. 
Also last week, Senators each named one bill as their legislative priority, a process that enables them to prioritize an issue that may otherwise not be considered by the full legislative body due to time constraints. In addition, Committees can each name 2 priority bills and Speaker Jim Scheer designated 25 bills as Speaker priorities. See the complete list of priority bills.

Bills with potential to impact early childhood that were prioritized are: 

  • LB803, introduced by Senator Stinner and prioritized by Speaker Jim Scheer; an accompanying amendment voted out of the Education Committee would allow the Nebraska State Board of Education to exempt certain pre-kindergarten programs from requiring teachers to hold teaching certificates. Read our written testimony on LB803.  
  • LB1108, prioritized by Senator Burke Harr, this bill includes changes to the School Readiness Tax Credit Act to better enable early childhood providers to access tax incentives to deliver quality services, eliminates the sunset provision and increases the funding cap. Read our blogpost on LB1108.
  • Prioritized by Senator Steve Erdman, LB829 would adopt the Property Tax Relief Act. If passed, each taxpayer who is a homeowner would receive a refund that equals 50% of the amount of local property taxes they paid to public schools. 
Proposed Budget Cuts
Nebraska has a budget deficit of approximately $173 million. To offset the deficit, Governor Ricketts proposed across-the-board reductions for the next two fiscal years. However, the proposed cuts and the budget recommendations by the Appropriations Committee might change, depending on the report by the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board, which will be released February 28.
For more information on bills that could affect early childhood, see the Legislation to Watch list on our Nebraska Legislation page. Bill status and other Information is updated and a printable report is produced daily during the legislative session. 
Evidence shows that higher-quality early childhood environments result in better developmental outcomes for children, particularly those at risk. We testified in support of LB1135, which provides solutions to Nebraska's teacher shortages in school- and ESU-based early childhood programs while maintaining program quality.
                                            Read More

Every day we take on the ordinary, sometimes challenging, 
tasks of work, school, parenting, relationships and just managing our lives. This short, new video looks at how young children develop executive function and self-regulation skills and what can send development of these crucial skills off course.

      Thank you to the Nebraska Head Start Association for 
      inviting us to speak with them about current legislation and, 
      if passed,  the impact some of the bills would have on the                early  childhood field, particularly in rural areas of the state.