Title Speakers Description
Community-Centered Solutions to Increase Child Care Availability
  • Nichole Hetz, Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition
  • Allison Jonas, Gothenburg Public Schools
  • Melinda Long, Columbus Community Hospital
Many communities were beginning meaningful projects to increase access to quality early child care availability when a worldwide pandemic brought activities to a halt. Join leaders from across the state to learn how different communities and organizations have innovatively responded to the pandemic and economic forces, leveraged interlocal agreements, and successfully reimagined how they can meet the need for quality early child care.
What It Means to Be an Advocate
  • Senator John Cavanaugh, Nebraska Legislature
  • Jodi-Renee Giron, First Five Nebraska
  • Aiesha Rahn, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
  • Katie Walmsley, Valley County Economic Development
There is a need for active and well-informed advocates to help public officials make decisions about policies that impact the well-being of our children, families, communities, and state. This session will explore what it means to be a citizen-advocate for building an early childhood movement with lessons learned from members of Nebraska’s Early Childhood Policy Leadership Academy.
How to Support Home-Based Providers in Your Community
  • Alexis Marquez, Lexie's Little Sunshines In-Home Child Care
  • Heather Schmidt, Love and Learn Childcare
  • Charlotte Zuniga, Charlotte Zuniga Daycare
Home-based providers are key contributors to maintain sufficient quality child care for families and communities. These providers are often overlooked leaders in the industry, despite flexible and innovative practices that offer diverse options to meet the needs of children and families. Engage with several home-based providers and learn how to create an environment where home-based providers are supported.
Tour: Plambeck Early Childhood Education Center
  • Chelsea Bartling, Plambeck Early Childhood Center
  • Dawn Mollenkopf, University of Nebraska at Kearney
Hear from design engineers with advanced insights into creating spaces specially designed for children, then see the quality environment and innovative practices in play at the Plambeck Early Childhood Education Center on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus. Listen as the team shares how they serve the youngest members of the Kearney community and help children grow and explore in a rich learning environment.
Understanding Early Childhood Funding
  • Catherine Huddleston-Casas, Buffett Early Childhood Institute
  • Jen Goettemoeller Wendl, Prairie Oak Publishing & Consulting
Every child care environment should have access to the funding necessary to offer quality services to children and their families, but the complex network of funding streams can be confusing. Learn more about the interaction of federal, state, and municipal systems and the role they each play to support quality within your own community.
We Care for Kids - In Your Community
  • Kim Adamski, Neimand Collaborative
  • Anne Brandt, Lincoln Littles
  • Kara Ficke, We Care for Kids
  • Holly Hatton-Bowers, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Nici Johnson, Educational Service Unit 13
  • John Spatz, Nebraska Association of School Boards
Learn about the exciting energy around the We Care for Kids campaign—a statewide effort to build support for quality early childhood education for all Nebraska families. Hear from the campaign team and explore tools and materials available to local communities. Attendees will walk away equipped to advocate for quality early childhood education.
Reimagining Early Childhood Partnerships
  • Kim Burry, Bayard Board of Education
  • Melody Hobson, Nebraska Department of Education
  • Rachel Sissel, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
Public-private partnerships across Nebraska are strengthening connections between school districts and early childhood community-based providers. This is improving cost- effectiveness, helping to ensure access to professional development, and better supporting children’s transitions to Kindergarten. Hear what has prompted some of these relationships and reimagine how your work with community child care professionals can support all children before they start school.
Strategic Plan for Equitable Access to Quality (SPEAQ) Early Childhood Services in Nebraska
  • Hallie Duke, Dr. Duke Consulting
  • Brandy Price, ABC 123 Home Childcare/Preschool
  • Susan Sarver, Buffett Early Childhood Insitute
  • Kelsey Schnoor, In His Arms Community Childcare
The Nebraska Early Childhood Strategic Plan is being written on behalf of all Nebraska children and families. It uses recommendations from families, providers, early childhood professionals, community support organizations, school staff, and more to holistically reflect the state’s early childhood environment. This SPEAQ session will be one of many community-based conversations to ensure the plan adequately identifies opportunities and challenges for diverse communities and stakeholders across the state.
The Cost of Quality: Understanding the Dollars and Cents Behind a Child Care Provider's Budget
  • Angela Blaesi, Angela Blaesi's Childcare
  • Jeanna Capito, Prenatal-to-Five Fiscal Strategies
  • Shannon Cotsoradis, Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative
  • Jen Gottemeoller, Prairie Oack Publishing & Consulting
  • Debra Nared-Hollingsworth, Nared's Peewee Palace
Why is quality child care so expensive? What are the financial considerations child care providers face when deciding to serve children who are eligible for the child care subsidy? What does it take to run a child care business that is both viable and accessible to all families who are seeking quality care? Join our interactive session and dive into a provider’s budget, learn how a cost model approach can set new child care subsidy rates for Nebraska, and hear how rates set by a cost model have stabilized child care businesses in other states.
Creating Better Solutions With Parents and Providers at the Table
  • Wendy Gwennap, United Way of South Central Nebraska
  • Gladys Haynes, Buffett Early Childhood Fund
  • Ashley Palumbo, Nebraska Early Childhood COllaborative Parent Advisor Initiative
  • Kim Parsons, Communities for Kids
  • Todd Schmeeckle, Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative Parent Advisor Initiative
  • Tierra Stennis-Harper, Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative
  • Ilissa Talkington, Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative
Often, those closest to the challenge have the best perspective regarding potential solutions. This can be especially true when it comes to child care shortages across our state. Join this discussion as panelists share ways to recruit and support parents and providers to participate in community planning and advocacy groups. Learn about the benefits for communities, as well as for parents and providers. Working together, we can arrive at the best solutions for children and families across Nebraska.
Increasing and Strengthening Diversity in Nebraska's Early Childhood
  • Quentin Brown, Educare Lincoln
  • Jene Chapman, Nebraska Department of Education
  • Melissa Cleaver, Buffett Early Childhood Institute
  • Ferial Pearson, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  • Aiesha Rahn, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
The ability of children and families to thrive is directly impacted by their opportunity to build connections with early childhood professionals who reflect the diversity of the community in which they live. This panel session will engage attendees in a discussion about the importance of increasing diversity in the workforce and leadership roles across Nebraska’s early childhood landscape.
Highlighting Opportunities for Early Childhood System Support
  • Lindsy Braddock, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
  • Lynne Cook, Nebraska Department of Education
  • Beckie Cromer, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
  • Jenny Fleming, Nebraska Department of Education
  • Melody Hobson, Nebraska Department of Education
  • Susan Sarver, Buffett Early Childhood Institute
  • Nicole Vint, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Service
Just like a house, early care and education programs cannot stand without a strong infrastructure in place. During this moderated panel, leaders from the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will share success stories highlighting available support for early care and education. Attendees will learn about resources from both agencies that can be used to support their local early childhood systems and how these agencies have added additional supports during the pandemic.
How Communities Help Prepare Young Children for School Success
  • Sami Bradley, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
  • Holly Hatton-Bowers, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Young children’s social-emotional skills are critically important for fostering learning, positive relationships, making caring decisions, and later school success. Come to this session to discover the strong connection between social-emotional skills and school success as well as ways for the community to share this important message to promote child and family well-being.
Early Childhood Professionals in Nebraska: Well-Being Beyond COVID
  • Alexandra Daro, Buffett Early Childhood Institute
  • Kathleen Gallagher, Buffett Early Childhood Institute
Early childhood professionals need to be well to provide the care children need to thrive. Surveys of early care and education programs and workforce in Nebraska indicate that early childhood professionals experienced inadequate support before and during COVID. The pandemic contributed to worsening conditions for the early childhood workforce in Nebraska and the potential for an increased shortage of quality child care. In this interactive session, we invite early childhood professionals, family members, and community advocates to discuss current challenges and possible solutions for providing systems of support for Nebraska’s early childhood workforce.
The Importance of Storytelling in Supporting Early Childhood Programs
  • Kira Geiger, Nebraska Community Foundation
  • Carrie Malek-Madani, Nebraska Community Foundation
  • Michael Wunder, Nebraska Community Foundation
This session will take a hands-on, practical approach to sharing your early childhood messages. From identifying attention-grabbing story angles and great interviewees, to taking compelling photos, working with journalists, and using media coverage, we’ll cover it all. Plus, hear success stories from Nebraska communities and learn how their examples can take your messaging to the next level.
Understanding Fundraising Basics
  • John Levy, William and Ruth Scott Family Foundation
  • Jessie Rasmussen, Buffett Early Childhood Fund
  • John Scott, William and Ruth Scott Family Foundation
  • Colten Venteicher, Gothenburg Improvement Company
Successful fundraising requires much more than “making an ask.” Hear from philanthropy experts and learn about researching potential funders, building relationships, asking questions, understanding key terms, and delivering a well-constructed proposal.
Early Childhood Teacher Recruitment and Retention
  • Tracy Gordon, Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Susan Sarver, Buffett Early Childhood Institute
  • Julia Torquati, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Early childhood teachers are the center of quality for any program. Recruiting and retaining these skilled professionals has always been a challenge and the current workforce shortage has exacerbated these difficulties. This session will provide some strategies for recruitment and retention and share a new grant-funded project, Responsive Equitable System for Preparing Early Childhood Teachers (RESPECT across Nebraska that is aimed at transforming early childhood educator preparation. Community members are invited to share their insights, wins, and challenges with recruiting and retaining early childhood professionals.