April 2019
Early Childhood Bill That Streamlines
Child Care Licensing Signed Into Law
With 22 days remaining in the 2019 legislative session, Senators continue floor debate on priority bills, and the Revenue and Appropriations committees continue to work on property tax relief and the state’s biennial budget. Only a handful of Senator priority bills have yet to be debated on General File. Senators begin late-night sessions at Speaker Jim Scheer's discretion this week.

Here are updates on a few of the important early childhood bills in the Legislature. 

LB590 allows licensed child care providers to report trainings to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) electronically using NECPRS, the Nebraska Early Childhood Professional Record System . This will create cost and procedural efficiencies for DHHS and care providers. First Five Nebraska worked with  Senator Tom Briese , DHHS and the Nebraska Department of Education on this bill and offered supporting testimony when it was heard in committee. LB590 was passed without opposition and signed into law by Governor Ricketts on April 17.

LB564 revises the definition of facilities eligible to receive grant funding under the Civic Community Center Financing Fund . Under the revision, multi-use facilities that include child care may qualify for funding. LB564 was placed on General File by the Urban Affairs Committee. It was not designated as priority, however, so it’s unlikely to be debated on the floor this session, but will carry over to the 2020 session. Read our blog post in support of LB564 .

LB341 , which brings Nebraska into compliance with federal graduated phase-out regulations for the child care subsidy, and LB459 , which brings Nebraska into compliance with fingerprint background check requirements for child care providers, were amended into LB460 . The Nebraska Health and Human Services Committee designated LB460 a priority bill, and Senators advanced it to Select File without opposition. Nebraska risks a 4% penalty to its Child Care Development Fund if it fails to implement the graduated phase-out and a 5% penalty if it fails to implement FBI fingerprint background checks. We thank the DHHS Committee and the full legislative body for working to bring Nebraska into compliance. Read our testimony in support of LB341 and LB459 .

LB289 is the Revenue Committee’s property tax bill . Nearly 50 people testified in opposition and only four in support during this bill's public hearing. Senators continue to try to find a compromise that has broad appeal.

LB294 is the mainline budget bill for the 2019-2021 state biennium . It’s required to be on General File by May 2 and must be passed by May 22. The Appropriations Committee released its initial budget recommendations, which restored last year’s cuts to Sixpence and the preschool grant program .

Pritzker Children's Initiative (PCI) has awarded Nebraska a $100,000 planning grant to develop a policy framework to advance high-quality early learning opportunities for the state's youngest children.

Nebraska was just one of 11 states to receive a grant out of 42 that applied. The 11 states are eligible for Implementation Grants based on the quality of the plan they develop over the next six to nine months.

First Five Nebraska will lead this cross-sector effort that will dovetail closely with work already underway on the federal Preschool Development Grant.

Staff from 23 Educare schools across the country, along with research and funding partners, and parents, convened in Lincoln April 16-18 to explore early learning strategies at the 2019 Educare Learning Network Meeting.

The annual gathering is an opportunity to connect, collaborate and celebrate accomplish-ments. Educare Lincoln hosted this year's meeting, which began with a reception and dinner featuring Senator Tony Vargas. In his address to the group, he reflected on his experience as a first-time father and as a former teacher in a low-income area of New York. He reaffirmed his commitment to early childhood and the important role high-quality early environments play in lifting families out of poverty and promoting children's healthy growth.

Participants came away from the meeting with a stronger understanding that diversity and inclusion is critical and must be intentional; connections between children, families and educators are powerful; continuous professional learning is essential; and using data to inform decision making is key.

Quick Links

FFN Policy Associate  Elizabeth Everett  learned a lot about the beauty, strengths and challenges of her adopted state in the  Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry's   Leadership Nebraska Class XI . She says throughout the nine-month program, regional tours and discussions ranging from economic development to national factors impacting life here left her eager to do her part to make Nebraska "an incredible place to live."

The Buffett Early Childhood Institute and partners Educational Service Unit 13 and Panhandle Partnership released a new report, "The Nebraska Panhandle: An Assessment of Birth-Grade 3 Care and Education" in Gering April 17. The three organizations came together to better understand and improve early learning and developmental outcomes for children in western Nebraska. 

They also presented "A Vision for the Panhandle" that will guide their collaboration on a strategic plan for a sustainable, school-based early childhood initiative in this region of the state.

Governor Ricketts proclaimed the week of April 22 Community Development Week to celebrate Nebraskans who are working every day to build their communities and grow our state. FFN believes quality early childhood infrastructure is a necessary pillar for community growth and economic development. Organizing our resources to help working parents give their children a strong start in life is crucial to our communities' current and future vitality.
Our vision is that all Nebraska children begin kindergarten
with the experience they need to become successful students
and productive citizens.