February 2020
Early childhood bills advance
through the Legislature
We're more than halfway through this year's legislative session, and some of the most important issues, including property taxes and the business development/tax incentive program known as the ImagiNE Nebraska Act, have yet to be resolved. Committee h earings have concluded and full-day floor debate will begin March 3. Speaker Jim Scheer, senators and committees have identified their priority bills, and because it's a short session, it's likely senators will debate only priority bills through the rest of the session.

Here's an update on some of the early childhood bills we're monitoring:

LB266 Change the School Readiness Tax Credit : FFN's top priority this session, LB266 fixes eligibility for the school readiness tax credit so self-employed child care professionals and S-Corps can access the tax credit as intended in the original legislation. LB266 passed General File on a 33-0-12 vote and Select File with a voice vote. It's now on Final Reading, and we expect it to pass this session . We are grateful for Senator Brett Lindstrom's leadership on LB266. Read FFN's testimony in support of LB266 .

LB329 Change eligibility for transitional child care assistance under the federal child care subsidy program : With an amendment from the Health and Human Services Committee, the bill allows a family whose income exceeds 130% of the federal poverty level to receive transitional child care assistance for 24 months or until income exceeds 200% of federal poverty level (the original cap was 185% FPL). We support LB329 and the amendment.

LB1061 Change provisions relating to alternative response to reports of child abuse or neglect : This is Senator Sue Crawford's priority bill and is on Select File, the second round of floor debate. It provides guidance on the types of child welfare cases that can utilize alternative response, which will help policymakers plan for the needs of affected children . Read FFN's letter of support for LB1061 .

LB1160 Adopt the Nebraska Workforce and Education Reporting System : One of the Business and Labor Committee's priority bills, LB1160 is still in committee. It would require the Nebraska Dept. of Labor to develop a plan to establish a lifelong learning and workforce longitudinal data system which, among other things, would identify the long-term return on investment for early education programs. Read FFN's letter of support for LB1160 .

LB1185 Change provisions relating to criminal history record information checks for child care staff members : This bill would require license-exempt providers seeking to accept the child care subsidy to meet federal background check standards. This is a Speaker priority bill and is still in the Health and Human Services Committee. Read FFN's testimony in support of LB1185 .

First Five Nebraska monitors bills affecting early childhood and provides updates on our website’s Nebraska Legislation page. We continue to support policies that provide quality early learning environments for all children in our state.  
DHHS to cover fingerprinting costs
for child care providers

Great news for child care providers -- the Dept. of Health and Human Services will cover the cost of fingerprinting background checks for existing child care providers and adults living in family child care homes before Oct. 1, 2019.

DHHS will pay the Nebraska State Patrol directly for the background checks, which they hope will cut the time it takes to receive results. We're happy to see DHHS recognize and support the important role of child care providers in our state!

Register now for the CYFS Summit
on Research in Early Childhood

We're proud to co-sponsor this biennial summit, which focuses on linking early childhood research with practice and policy to improve the developmental trajectories of young children. It's a great day of inspiring presentations and roundtable discussion about cutting-edge research at UNL.

We hope you'll join us April 29 at Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln. Save your seat today: cyfs.unl.edu/ecs/2020/
Quick Links

 Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Bonding over doughnuts: Kids enjoy time with dad at Geil Elementary . After grabbing their breakfast, kids found a seat with their dads, grandpas, uncles and mom to enjoy their time together before school. “It’s awesome just seeing my dad,” said Jace Johnson. 

Lincoln Journal-Star , Local View by John Spatz, Executive Director, Nebraska Association of School Boards: Invest in Early Childhood . Currently, 75% of Lincoln's children under age 6 have both parents in the workforce. The average cost of center-based child care for infants and toddlers is between $10,075 and $10,793 per year. This cost makes it difficult for families to afford high-quality early childhood programs for their children. Common sense and data show there is a cost to communities when families are not able to send their children to child care programs.