News from First Five Nebraska
October 2017


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


Ben Baumfalk Joins 
FFN Staff

Ben Baumfalk

We'd like to welcome Ben Baumfalk to our staff as Policy Research Analyst. Ben is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate at UNL studying research methodology. He brings to the job more than 10 years of professional experience in the education field, including working as a research and evaluation specialist with the Nebraska Department of Education. 

Ben will lead FFN's research and data initiatives, and play a key role in advancing legislative and administrative policy. 

The American Library Association has announced this year's Notable Children's Books . The criteria includes "books that are of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity and books that reflect and encourage children's interests in exemplary ways."

The Younger Readers category is preschool-grade 2 (ages 3-7); Middle Readers category is grades 3-5, ages 8-10.
Quick Links
  • Norfolk Daily News: Recognizing that a stimulating educational environment is critical to creating a thriving community, a Boone County foundation and schools have partnered to launch an after-school program with a strong STEM focus. 
  • Grand Island Independent: Senators Patty Pansing Brooks and Lou Ann Linehan visited schools around Nebraska for their work on LR222, an interim study on dyslexia and reading literacy.  
  • Family fun: See a Nebraska regional map showing locations of pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hayrides and other Halloween and fall fun. 
  • Not Very Scary: These Halloween picture books are listed in order of creepy factor, beginning with cute. 

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Tax Credits Are Available
to Support Quality Child Care
Programs and Staff

Nebraska senators passed legislation in 2016 making tax credits available to child care programs and early childhood staff members beginning with tax year 2017. The intent of the School Readiness Tax Credit Act is to support investment in, and increase access to quality early care and education across the state. 

Credits range from $250 to $750 for programs and $500 to $1,500 for early childhood professionals. 

Read More  

Quality home and child care environments in early childhood help build a strong foundation that leads to success in school and life. Step Up to Quality's website and new online interactive map help parents find information about child care providers statewide. 

Click an icon on the map (left on the navigation panel) to  see the program's rating on Step Up to Quality's five-step rating system, plus program name and address, contact information, type of services offered, enrollment number, license number and status of the license. The map and a printable list with the same information are updated monthly. 

A new study shows that the benefits of Head Start extend decades later to children whose parents participated in the early childhood program in the 1960s.

Generations United's annual report shows 20,808 Nebraska children are being raised by their grandparents. Most of these children come from unstable households, and the biggest gift grandparents can give is a stable, predictable environment. 

Dr. Helen Raikes Recognized 
for Work on Sixpence
Congratulations to Dr. Helen Raikes who was presented with the Grace Abbott Award this month honoring her leadership, and that of her late husband, Senator Ron Raikes, in making the Sixpence Early Learning Fund a reality in Nebraska.

Dr. Raikes spoke about the importance of taking the "long view" looking back to where we've come from, and where we're headed in our journey to create opportunity for our state's youngest children. 

Emerging evidence suggests early math skills can be crucial to students' overall school careers. A study found that a child's math ability at the start of kindergarten was the best predictor of academic performance in 8th grade.