June 2022
Applications for Class 4 of our Nebraska Early Childhood Policy Leadership Academy are open! The PLA is the state's premier, non-partisan leadership development program that empowers citizen-advocates to become involved in the policymaking process at all levels to create a strong future for young children and all Nebraskans.

During the six-month program, PLA members learn about policymaking, master grassroots advocacy techniques and engage directly with public officials representing their communities and legislative districts.

Class 4 will run October 2022 through March 2023 (excluding December) and will include one virtual meeting and four in-person gatherings at locations across the state. The program culminates with members meeting with their state senators at the Capitol to discuss policy priorities and view floor debate and committee hearings.

We welcome applicants with a broad array of experience, civic involvement and cultural backgrounds, including business leaders, economic developers, legal professionals, health care providers, civic association and faith community leaders, municipal officials and teachers in early childhood, K-12 and higher education. The deadline to apply is July 22.

Read our blogposts:

FFN's Jodi-Renee Giron continues her travels around Nebraska catching up with PLA alumni and learning about the incredible work they're doing in communities. This month she visited York, Stromsburg and Hastings. Read more

FFN was among a group of partners who kicked off the We Care for Kids campaign June 15 to promote access to quality early childhood education.

The campaign highlights the crucial role educators play in helping families prepare their youngest children for success and the growing struggle to attract and retain talent in this highly skilled profession. Website and materials are available in English and Spanish.

The launch included comments from University of Nebraska President Ted Carter, State Senator John Stinner and other leading Nebraskans.

Strategic Partnerships Advisor
Mike Feeken talks with
Nebraska county officials

FFN's Mike Feeken spoke at the Nebraska Assn. of County Officials (NACO) conference this month along with members of Communities for Kids (C4K). FFN, C4K and NACO are partnering to create awareness and educate county board officials on the importance of children's development prenatal to age 3, how Nebraska counties have invested in early childhood and the economic impact it makes in recruiting and retaining a viable workforce in communities.

FFN also was invited to participate in a Prenatal-to-Age 3 Peer Learning Community recently supported through the National Assn. of Counties Research Foundation and Pritzker Children's Initiative. We provided policy support and expertise, and updates about ongoing PN-3 activities in Nebraska.
Nebraska Children's
Betty Medinger retires

Family, friends and colleagues gathered this month to celebrate the retirement of Betty Medinger, Senior V.P. of Nebraska Children and Families Foundation (NCFF). Throughout her career, Betty was at the forefront of public and private efforts to improve systems for Nebraska’s youngest children. She served as the state’s Child Care Administrator at DHHS and went on to lead cross-sector endeavors to build communities’ child care capacity. Among her most compelling achievements was an initiative to create early learning scholarships to enable more families to access quality child care throughout the state.

“Betty has been the driving force behind many big initiatives aimed at improving the well-being of children and families,” said NCFF President and CEO Mary Jo Pankoke. “Many of those initiatives would not have happened without her leadership, collaborative spirit and perseverance.” Thank you for your years of service and congratulations on your retirement Betty! 

The Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corp. joined with Nebraska Communities for Kids to acquire grant funding for educational toys and distributed them this month to early care and education providers. Watch the story on News Channel Nebraska

The agenda, presentations and resources from Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative's Elevate22 business summit for child care professionals are available here.

NECC also is accepting applications for 2023 Parent Ambassadors until July 31. Information/applications are available in English and Spanish.
Congratulations to all of Nebraska's newest early childhood education graduates! You have an opportunity to truly make a difference in young children's lives by fostering healthy growth during a critical time in their development. A strong start yields a lifetime of benefits!