2014 Prevention Summit brings together statewide leaders


On Friday, November 14, leaders from state government, human services organizations and private philanthropy convened in Lincoln to discuss strategies for more effective child abuse prevention at the annual Prevention Summit.

The theme of Friday’s event was promoting healthy relationships through systems that care.  The content focused on the importance of strong, healthy relationships in keeping children safe and protecting them from adverse childhood experiences. Nationally recognized experts spoke on the latest in child abuse prevention strategies and theory.

More than 300 state, nonprofit and philanthropic stakeholder attended Friday's Prevention Summit.

More than 300 state, nonprofit and philanthropic stakeholder attended Friday’s Prevention Summit.

Prevention Summit Speakers

  • Healthy Couples, Healthy Children: Improving the Lives of Children through Healthy Couple Relationships and Stable Homes | David Schramm, Ph.D., University of Missouri College of Human Environmental Sciences
  • All in a Day’s Work! | Juli Burney, teacher, humorist and author
  • A Community-based Approach to Empathy-based Caregiving for Parenting & Family Relationships: Universal Violence Prevention | Kimberly Svevo-Cianci, Ph.D., CEO of Changing Children’s Worlds Foundation and Founder of the International Child/Parent Development Program
  • The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture |
    Mary Pipher, Ph.D., therapist and New York Times #1 Best Selling Author
Kerry Winterer (CEO of Nebraska DHHS), Mary Jo Pankoke (CEO of Nebraska Children),   Dr. Matt Blomstedt (Commission of Nebraska Department of Education) and Brandon Verzal (Chair of the Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board), prepare to kick off the event.

Kerry Winterer (CEO of Nebraska DHHS), Mary Jo Pankoke (CEO of Nebraska Children), Dr. Matt Blomstedt (Commission of Nebraska Department of Education) and Brandon Verzal (Chair of the Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board), prepare to kick off the event.

The Prevention Summit was funded and organized by the Prevention Partnership, which includes:

  • Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
  • Nebraska Department of Education
  • Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board
  • Nebraska Children and Families Foundation

See 10/11’s coverage of the event.

Project Everlast is collecting for holiday care packages!

Kris from the Lincoln Council, excited about her care package.

A Lincoln youth excited about her care package in 2013.

For the third year, Project Everlast youth councils will be collecting items and donations for care packages. The councils will assemble, wrap and distribute packages to young people in foster care, or who have just aged out, who don’t have family to share the holidays with this year.

“Everyone deserves some joy over the season,” said Jessica Hilderbrand of Project Everlast, who’s heading up this year’s initiative. “These care packages are all about telling young people that they are loved and that we’re thinking of them.”

Care packages can include practical items – like blankets, non-perishable food items and toiletries. But fun things are just as welcome! Young people aging out of the system don’t usually have the discretionary income to spend on things like movies, restaurants, or new clothes.

Interested in donating to this year’s care package project? Contact Jessica at  to get in touch with the Project Everlast council in your community, or make a cash donation now.

UpPour heads west to celebrate the Panhandle’s children’s champions

UpPour 2014

UpPour is Nebraska Children’s annual fundraiser and celebration of children’s champions. This year, we brought the party to Gering, in Nebraska’s Panhandle to honor two powerful forces on behalf of children – Senator John Harms and The Panhandle Partnership for Health and Human Services.


Just a few representatives from the Panhandle Partnership.


Senator John Harms with his wife and kids.

Senator John Harms with his wife and kids.

The event was held at the Gering Civic Center. With nearly 150 attendees, the luncheon event offered the perfect venue for area nonprofit leaders, social service providers and philanthropists to enjoy each other’s company.

Nebraska Children Board Member Barb Schlothauer emceed the event. She also expertly handled most of the event planning and promotion.

Barb Schlothauer and her husband, Dr. George Schlothauer

Barb Schlothauer and her husband, Dr. George Schlothauer

Attendees were greeted by the Forever People art exhibit as they entered the event. The photography display was created by former foster youth involved in the Panhandle Partnership with help from Jessica Mikoloyck of Sunny Freckles Photography.

The event was closed with an uplifting performance by members of the Western Nebraska Community College Choir, directed by Rita Stinner.


Sponsors included:

  • Amy L. Scott Family Foundation
  • Barb and George Schlothauer
  • Cline Willams Wright Johnson & Old Father LLP
  • First State Bank
  • Kelley Bean Company
  • KNEB Radio
  • Lockwood Foundation
  • Peetz & Company
  • Platte Valley Companies
  • Regional West Physicians Clinic
  • Scottsbluff Star Herald
  • Security National Bank
  • Union Bank and Trust Company
  • Valley Bank
  • Western Nebraska Community College

FAST Success in the Panhandle

In the Panhandle, preschool families who will be transitioning to Kindergarten at Chadron Public Schools are receiving some extra support through a pilot of the FAST program (Families and School Together).

On April 14, 2014, Chadron completed their second cycle of FAST, graduating 18 families from the program. These families reported improvement in their family relationships, relationships with their children, parental involvement in the school and social support.

FAST is an evidence-based series of eight family classes that included a shared meal, non-directed play, coaching of parents and parent groups.  The program generated several positive outcomes, including improved attendance, learning, school behavior and protective factors.

FAST program goals:

  • Enhanced family functioning
  • Prevention of school failure
  • Prevention of child abuse and neglect
  • Prevention of substance abuse by the child and family
  • Reduced stress for parents and children from daily life situations

One child’s story.

For one young child in particular, FAST helped her to become more engaged and confident at school. Throughout preschool she had been shy and reserved. Her parents were concerned that this behavior would continue and it would hinder her Kindergarten success.

Her family signed up for FAST in February and as the weeks went on, her teacher noticed a positive change. She was talking and interacting more. She even shared during circle time in front of the entire class. Academically, she went from knowing only a few letters at the beginning of the year to knowing ALL of her letters and sounds and starting to read simple words.

Her teacher said, “She built so much confidence in just the last few months of preschool. FAST had a lot to do with her growth. I am confident that she is more than ready to have a positive, successful year in kindergarten!”

Read another FAST success story.

Nebraska Children raises $1,900+ at Dunkin’ Donuts grand opening!

Kelly Medwick, Nebraska Children's Chief of Staff accepting a donation from Bryce Bares.

Kelly Medwick, Nebraska Children’s Chief of Staff accepting a donation from Bryce Bares.

Two great things happened today. First, Lincoln got its first Dunkin’ Donuts store at 27th and Old Cheney, giving our capital city access to some dynamite coffee and treats. To make things even better, the store’s owner, Bryce Bares of Omaha, selected Nebraska Children to be his charitable partner for the grand opening. He donated $1,000 to Nebraska Children, and gave free coffee and mugs to customers who made donations too. By the end of the morning, we had raised nearly $2,000.

We talked to Bryce a little bit about how he made his choice. Here’s what he said:

Q: Why did you choose Nebraska Children to receive donations during the Lincoln Dunkin Donuts grand opening?  

A: My wife and I are both working parents, and we struggled to find quality childcare even though we were blessed with the resources to afford good care.   The challenges to single parents can be even more overwhelming.  NCFF’s work helping to provide vulnerable children with opportunities (crade to career) is unbelievably important.

Bryce and Family

Bryce and his family.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge for children and families in your community?

A: Serious disparity of opportunity exists for children depending on where they live, income and education level of the parents, and quality of the school district.  It is very difficult for a child to focus on education when external challenges like hunger, violence, poverty and neglect redirect their attention.

Q: As an entrepreneur, you have a unique perspective. How does ensuring that Nebraska’s children all have the opportunity to reach their full potential benefit the business community – now and in the future?

A: Aside from the obvious answers, like improved education, teaching fundamental skills – time management, basic financial literacy, employer expectations – is invaluable to the business community.  The more the children understand employer needs (reliability, integrity, work ethic), the more successful they will be.

Q: What is one change that you’d like to see in your lifetime for the kids of Nebraska?  

A: All Children should have access to quality education that reaches beyond the traditional classes (English, Math, etc.) and prepares them for a successful career.   We need to work hard to offset the disparities and challenges faced by at-risk or vulnerable youth.  By providing resources to organizations like Nebraska Children, at least we are taking a step in the right direction.


Visit Bryce’s other Nebraska Dunkin’ Donuts locations:

  • 4709 L Street, Omaha
  • 715 S 72nd Street, Omaha
  • 9910 S 71st Plaza, Papillion
  • 10730 Q Street, Omaha
  • 2520 Old Cheney Road, Lincoln

York Child Well Being conversations


Key community stakeholders in York recently met with Nebraska Children to begin the process of becoming a Child Well Being Community. This process, which starts with a thorough analysis of child well being data and a service array assessment, would help York service providers, educators, policy makers and other concerned parties form a community collaboration to create more positive outcomes for its kids at risk.

View York County’s current child well being statistics now.


What a difference Sixpence has made at Shinga Zinga

By Gwen Frideres, Shinga Zinga Program Director | Umo’ho’ Nation, Macy, NE


The Sixpence program has made a difference in our center by providing a curriculum foundation and structure to the children’s learning that promotes their growth and development.  Other child care centers do not have a curriculum that they follow for activities that include all developmental levels and domains in Early Learning Guidelines. The children’s milestones are recorded with parent input on the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) as well as in the Teaching Strategies Gold database.  The Teaching Strategies Gold database report shows the parents their child’s developmental growth through documented observations.  This data also helps child care center teachers to design an individual lesson plan specifically for that child. But that’s not all:

Assessment data for parents.

The assessments that are conducted with Munroe-Meyer Institute help parents understand their child’s developmental levels.  If a child falls below expectations, the center is able to share this with parents and to share this data with the Early Intervention team to conduct further evaluations, and receive special education services to children who may be at risk so that they can transition out by age 3 and be ready for school.


Partnerships with parents and the community

Now, thanks to Sixpence funding, necessary community resources are shared at parent meetings so they are aware of what services are available to them. The technical support that is provided by the Sixpence team ensures centers to have high-quality programs, facilities, staff and instruction.

Our parents have become our life-long friends and they want their child to attend our program because they know it is high quality that they are not going to receive anywhere else, plus the parents get to see the rate their child is learning and developing.  Parents feel open to share with us and to continue to be in contact with us even when their child has transitioned out of our program.  This relationship has increased our retention rate, and many parents who are expecting are on our waiting list.

Enhanced educational experience

Our program can now purchase additional resources from Teaching Strategies Gold, like child portfolios to track children from the time they enter center.  We transfer this data to Head Start when toddlers transition out of our program.  Then this data can be shared with kindergarten teachers so each child’s development is tracked from birth until they enter kindergarten.

We’ve also been able to purchase educational materials and equipment to educate parents on topics associated with becoming a parent and about their child’s growth and development.  Some examples include car seat safety, safe sleep practices, CPR and first aid training to name just a few.



Ongoing staff training

The Sixpence funding has supported training and conference opportunities for staff to learn about infant- and toddler- specific teaching to build staff expertise.  We have also been able to purchase additional supplies  to improve the quality of learning through play, including an expanded outdoor play area.

Find out more about Sixpence now.