News from First Five Nebraska
April 2018


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


We were pleased to co-sponsor the Early Childhood Research Summit this month with the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS), the Nebraska Academy of Early Childhood Research (NAECR), Buffett Early Childhood Institute and UNL's College of Education and Human Sciences.

The summit featured early childhood findings from NU-affiliated researchers, and linked the research to practice and policy. 

FFN Policy Research Analyst Ben Baumfalk presented a session discussing Nebraska's progress on developing a comprehensive, statewide early childhood integrated data system.
Why You Should Read that Book to a Child One More Time

A recent study found that reading the same book over and over to a child is important, even when the child knows what happens in the story and how it ends. Why? The study showed that repetition helped children recognize and remember new words better than children who were read several different books containing the same vocabulary. 

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105th Nebraska Legislature, Second Session, Adjourns 
Sine Die 

The second session of the 105th Legislature adjourned  sine die  April 18. Senators introduced 481 new bills this session. With only 60 working days, lawmakers had two priorities: pass a mid-biennium budget package to balance a budget deficit of $173 million and advance a comprehensive property tax relief plan. Unfortunately, legislators were unable to reach a consensus on property tax relief and will have to work over the summer to find a compromise instead.
Given Governor Ricketts' plans to introduce across-the-board cuts to agency programs to balance the budget, First Five Nebraska chose not to introduce new legislation this session. Instead, we focused on defending Nebraska's current investments in high-quality early childhood programs. Despite our efforts to shield these investments, as well as higher-than-anticipated revenue projections, early childhood programs sustained a 2% cut for FY2018-2019 and a 4% cut for FY2019-2020, translating to a loss of $527,000 in funding across both fiscal years.
Although we understand the need for fiscal responsibility in the current budget environment, we regret lawmakers' decision to cut our public commitment to quality early care and learning when these investments can reduce expenditures on other publicly funded systems downstream. The savings realized by these cuts are minimal compared to the potential long-term costs of inadequate learning experiences during children's earliest years. It is important we remain focused on the continued development of Nebraska's citizens, communities and economy.
Read our session-end report and information on important bills affecting early childhood: 2018 Nebraska Legislation Highlights

Overcrowding, rioting and a shortage of workers in Nebraska's Corrections system is a topic of urgent discussion. If we want to get ahead of our prison problem, we need to address it further upstream. Studies show quality early childhood programs can reduce later incarceration of children at risk by as much as half. Funding cuts to Sixpence and other quality early childhood programs will result in a very small savings now, and a potentially much larger societal cost later.

Registration is open for the  Nebraska Young Child Institute , the statewide conference on the latest information on effective, research-based interventions and quality early childhood programming for our state's most vulnerable children, ages birth to 5, and their families. More than 40 presentations and break-out sessions are planned. See the registration page to learn more about the speakers, agenda, sponsors and exhibitors.  The conference is June 26-27 at Kearney's Younes Conference Center.