September 2020
FFN report shows large economic fallout
in Nebraska from lack of child care
Inadequate access to child care costs Nebraska families, businesses and state tax revenues nearly $745 million annually in direct losses, and when the losses are multiplied throughout the economy, the impact is even more severe. These are the findings from a recently released study by FFN and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Bureau of Business Research.

With nearly 75% of Nebraska children under age 6 in some type of care, early childhood programs are crucial to the state’s economy. They support working parents on the job, allow businesses to recruit and retain talent and help Nebraska’s future workforce develop cognitive and social-emotional skills for long-term success in school and life.

“The report’s findings boil down to a simple conclusion: Inadequate child care is a serious barrier for improving family incomes, the bottom line of businesses and the economic growth of our state,” said Jason Prokop, director of First Five Nebraska. It's imperative that stakeholders work together to create effective, community-driven solutions that strengthen Nebraska's early childhood infrastructure, he said.
Key findings of The Bottom Line show gaps in child care availability:

  • Cost Nebraska families $489 million yearly in direct losses of income from missed and reduced work hours.
  • Cost Nebraska businesses more than $234 million annually due to reduced productivity and turnover.
  • Result in an estimated annual loss of 3,337 jobs throughout the state due to reduced economic activity.
Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Bryan Slone commented on the findings, indicating employers understand the urgency of the issue. “Nebraska’s businesses have been working with community partners to close the gap in available child care beginning well before the pandemic. But the consequences of COVID-19 may now have once again widened that gap, preventing parents from entering or returning to the workforce. If parents don’t have a place they can trust to care for their kids, they will not be able to fully contribute to the critical need to re-energize and strengthen our state’s economy coming out of the pandemic.”

Nearly 700 civic, business and education leaders from 99 Nebraska communities and 20 states and Washington, D.C., came together for the third annual “Thriving Children, Families, and Communities” conference September 14 to focus on quality early childhood programs—which became even more critical with the pandemic—and their connection to community economic development and vitality.

Keynote speaker Linda Smith from the Bipartisan Policy Center addressed critical issues and obstacles and highlighted the special role for communities, businesses and policymakers in charting a path forward. Read more

Senator John Stinner wants to hear from parents and business owners about their experiences with child care during the pandemic.

A survey is being conducted for work on LR390, a legislative interim study examining the fiscal and economic impacts of COVID-19 on Nebraska's early childhood workforce and the financing requirements of a high-quality early childhood system.

A hearing on LR390 before the Legislature's Appropriations Committee is set for September 29 at 9 a.m. at the State Capitol, Room 1525. It can be viewed live on NET's Live & On Demand: State Government website page. Take the survey

When we launched the Nebraska Early Policy Leadership Academy with Communities for Kids, our goal was to educate change-minded leaders on how to influence early childhood policy with government leaders and within local business communities. After two outstanding classes, we're proud to say these alumni have gone on to actively help us shape public policy and the public conversation about early childhood in their hometowns and our state.

We plan to continue offering the Academy regularly, but due to the pandemic, we've postponed recruitment for Class 3 until next year—stay tuned for more information.

Congratulations on breaking ground for your early childhood center Boone Beginnings! Your hard work over the past few years will help prepare Boone County's youngest children for success in school while strengthening your local economy by supporting working parents.

Are the kiddos in your life adjusting to wearing masks? Zero to Three offers some great tips for getting toddlers and other kids to mask up. A few suggestions: Explain why we're wearing masks but keep it simple, not scary; introduce masks during playtime; and offer a choice of masks if you can.
For information on coronavirus in Nebraska or to take a health assessment survey, visit Test Nebraska. See the Nebraska Dept. of Health and Human Services website for a state overview, guidance documents, Directed Health Measures and many additional resources.