Connected Youth Initiative: Kevin, a Motivated Young Man, Arrives at Success, Thanks to His Determination and a Little Help from Opportunity Passport

Kevin has been a participant in Opportunity Passport™ for over three years. He speaks three languages, plans to attend college, continues to demonstrate financial self-sufficiency. Given these skills, he’s already created a solid foundation but has built on these existing talents. Read more to see how he accomplished his goals!

Resources for Unconnected Youth: Connected Youth Initiative Grants Hope   During an unsettling time, our communities and youth with foster care experience matter. Despite these challenges, positive changes are happening every day both here at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and in the communities in which we work.   We’ve seen

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Posted in News and Events, Systems, Teen/Early Adulthood

Project Everlast Omaha Launches Mobile Pantries to Ensure Youth Have Access to Food and Necessities

Long before the pandemic, Connected Youth Initiative’s Project Everlast Omaha, its partners, and the community has offered programs to assist unconnected youth. The term "unconnected youth" refers to young people between the ages of 14-25 years of age who have experienced the foster care system, juvenile justice system and/or probation, homelessness, or human trafficking. Find out more about Project Everlast Omaha's efforts to support unconnected youth!

Long before the pandemic, Connected Youth Initiative’s Project Everlast Omaha, its partners, and the community has offered programs to assist unconnected youth. The term “unconnected youth” refers to young people between the ages of 14-25 years of age who have experienced the foster care system, juvenile justice system and/or probation, homelessness, or human trafficking. Find out more about Project Everlast Omaha’s efforts to support unconnected youth!

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Posted in Middle Childhood, News and Events, Systems, Teen/Early Adulthood

When Playgrounds are off Limits, Early Care Providers Get Creative: Krystal Holmes Reveals Educational Activities for Toddlers During COVID-19

Read more about Falls City, NE childcare provider, Krystal Holmes, who became creative in engaging her toddlers. From creating mini-storm clouds to turning a toy exercise into a real-live bug-hunt, Krystal shares both the difficulties that have affected her childcare and the learning experiences she has created as a result.

COVID-19. A few months before it was a name that occasionally echoed throughout media outlets, a virus from far, far away, a distant worry that was initially, amid all of hustle and bustle of everyday life, easy to brush aside.  

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Childcare Provider Spotlight: Roxann Bihlmaier, Director of Kinder Haus Child Center, Talks about COVID-19’s Impact

Roxann Bihlmaier, the Director of Kinder Haus Child Center in Eustis, shares how the pandemic has impacted her program.

Although many professions, from retail to bartending to hospitality, have felt COVID-19’s impact, there is one, essential part of our workforce whose efforts occasionally remain unsung: our early care and education providers.

We realize, who better then, to speak to the struggles and hopes childcare providers face than a provider herself? Today, Roxann Bihlmaier, the Director of Kinder Haus Child Center in Eustis, Nebraska, is that person. Although every childcare provider’s story is unique, their hardships, hopes, and fears are all very real. Let us allow Roxann to tell us her story.

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Promising News for Early Childhood Care and Education: Nebraska’s PDG B-5 Renewal Grant Chosen for 8.9-Million Dollar Award

The National Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families has informed Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) of a three-year, PDG B-5 renewal grant. Nebraska will receive $8.9 million for each of the next three years with contributing partners pledging $2.7 million in matched funds. Read more in our latest blog.

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Opening up During COVID-19: Carly Garner, A Childcare Provider, Shares Her Experience

Early care providers and educators realize that whereas they are performing an essential act, they are also assuming a highly empathetic one. Many early childhood programs and providers have worked with their families and children for years. Early care educators and providers not only make up an important part of our economy; they have also become an honorary member of their attendees’ families. Meanwhile, questions abound: if they close will they ever reopen? What will their families, whom they have grown to care for as much as their children, do if they close their doors? How do they best serve their families, selves, and children? For Carly, she deliberates these questions along with the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

Early care providers and educators realize that whereas they are performing an essential act, they are also assuming a highly empathetic one. Many early childhood programs and providers have worked with their families and children for years. Early care educators and providers not only make up an important part of our economy; they have also become an honorary member of their attendees’ families.

Meanwhile, questions abound: if they close will they ever reopen? What will their families, whom they have grown to care for as much as their children, do if they close their doors? How do they best serve their families, selves, and children? For Carly Garner, she deliberates these questions along with the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Nebraska Reopens…Along with Early Care and Education Programs: Chantel Tonkinson Shares Her New Beginning

Children at Chantel Tonkinson's early care facility, Ladybug Crossing, create Easter projects.

Our early care providers are strategizing, struggling, and helping – even amid this potentially fatal illness. We are glad to hear and share their stories. It is undeniable that early care workers have been duly impacted by COVID-19. It is, however, equally undeniable that this demographic has proven itself to be hard-working, resilient, and resourceful.

As we spoke with Chantel Tonkinson, the director of Ladybug Crossing Early Learning Program in North Platte, Nebraska, our vision of a brighter future and eventual new beginning sharpened into focus. She is reopening Ladybug Crossing on May 11!

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Children of the Trees: Communities, Nonprofits, and Public Institutions Unite on Behalf of Nebraska-Tree-A-Thon

On Arbor Day weekend, April 24-26, youth and their communities across Nebraska participated in a statewide Tree-A-Thon to plant and celebrate trees. 

BSB kicked off the Tree-A-Thon alongside Arbor Day Foundation, Natural Resource Districts, Audubon Nebraska, Nebraska Forest Service, and The University of Nebraska. As with any major initiative, this project constituted more than just tree-planting; BSB and its partners had a larger mission in mind. 

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Posted in Middle Childhood, News and Events

No Picnic: Saffron Buettner Reveals her Community’s Strategy to Deliver 175-Gallons of Milk and 175 Loaves of Bread to 70 Providers in Two Weeks

When early care providers experienced a bread and milk shortage, how did Saffron Buettner (pictured right) and her fellow community members help? Find out.  

When early care providers experienced a bread and milk shortage, how did Saffron Buettner (pictured above) and her fellow community members help? Find out.  

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Afterschool Programs are Here to Stay: Beyond School Bells Launches New Toolkit for Any Stage in the Creation Process

Whether you're contemplating, starting, improving, or sustaining a high quality afterschool or summer learning experience, the process takes work. Beyond School Bells has launched its new Toolkit to help. For those thinking about creating an Expanded Learning Opportunity (ELO), the toolkit provides planning guidelines and funding structures. To start a program, this resource contains hiring and leadership strategies. To improve an ELO, explore curricular ideas and career-readiness best practices. Finally, sustain your ELO with resources for partnerships, advocacy, and messaging. 

Whether you’re contemplating, starting, improving, or sustaining a high quality afterschool or summer learning experience, the process takes work. Beyond School Bells has launched its new Toolkit to help. For those thinking about creating an Expanded Learning Opportunity (ELO), the toolkit provides planning guidelines and funding structures. To start a program, this resource contains hiring and leadership strategies. To improve an ELO, explore curricular ideas and career-readiness best practices. Finally, sustain your ELO with resources for partnerships, advocacy, and messaging. 

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Posted in Middle Childhood, News and Events

Beyond School Bells Join Forces to Bring STEM to Underserved Areas

Beyond School Bells was awarded a one-year grant to participate in the Million Girl Moonshot. This initiative intends to increase the number of underserved youth in high-quality afterschool and summer STEM programs. With this STEMNext grant, BSB will join ten other statewide afterschool networks to launch this decade-long national initiative.

Beyond School Bells was awarded a one-year grant to participate in the Million Girl Moonshot. This initiative intends to increase the number of underserved youth in high-quality afterschool and summer STEM programs. With this STEMNext grant, BSB will join ten other statewide afterschool networks to launch this decade-long national initiative.

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Posted in Middle Childhood, News and Events

Early Childhood Providers and COVID-19: The Nebraska Child Care Provider Relief Fund Delivers Source of Support

Thanks to the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, we and Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative created the Nebraska Child Care Provider Relief Fund. This fund provides Nebraska-based licensed childcare programs and providers with a one-time $1,000 award. These funds are designed to recognize the importance of childcare facilities during this crisis. To date, we’ve received a staggeringly high number of over 1,000 applications. 

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Coming Clean: During COVID-19, Community Members Help Early Care Providers Find Disinfectant

Join Julie Nash of Hall County Community Collaborative as she comes clean on her hunt for a provider's much-needed disinfectant.

Despite COVID-19, many families need to work, and their children need quality care. Without childcare, there can be no essential workers. Without these essential early care workers, there can be no thriving community.

Julie Nash wholeheartedly recognizes this connection. She and her organization serve on a committee that works with children ages birth through 11 and their providers. Through the professional grapevine, Julie caught wind from Shonna Werth, Assistant Vice President of Early Childhood Programs, that a provider in St. Paul, Nebraska needed disinfectant. In fact, if this provider couldn’t find some sanitizer soon, she would have to close her doors.

Learn more about Julie’s hunt for disinfectant.

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Bring Up Nebraska Partners Working to Meet Needs: First Lady Shore, Motherboard and Generous Funders Refurbish Over 80 Computers for Families in Colfax/Platte Counties

From left to right: Representatives from Community & Family Partnership/Community Response, Motherboard, Platte Valley Literacy Association, Centro Hispano Comunitario de Nebraska, and Cargill Community Learning Center

Schuyler, Nebraska, with the help of our First Lady and other generous organizations, provided a terrific example of a community that cultivates positive change through engagement. When families in the Platte/Colfax Counties who were pursuing distance-learning were left with no available technology, the Community and Family Partnership, one of Bring Up Nebraska’s community collaboratives, reached out to its partners for assistance.

Find out what happened next.

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Posted in News and Events, Teen/Early Adulthood

COVID-19’s Effect on Early Care and Afterschool Programs: Providers Adapt, Grapple, and Make the Most Out of Difficult Times

The children at Cherry Creative Corner are creating and playing while Shannon and her staff find ways to adapt to new circumstances.

This spring, COVID-19 is a name and number with which you’re probably well-acquainted. You’re more than likely aware of many other numbers, too. From the number of infected individuals in your area to the number of businesses closed to the number of layoffs, we can recite these statistics by heart.

Here at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, as an organization that seeks to grow the good life for all our children, we empathize with those who are witnessing, dealing, and adjusting to these uncertain times.

In addition to members of the service industry and retail being impacted, there is one occasionally overlooked, equally affected demographic whose voice we aim to capture: our early care providers.

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Early Childcare Faced with Pandemic: Heather Schmidt Shares Her Experience, Humor, and Difficulties in the Face of COVID-19 

Early Care in Crisis: An Interview with Nebraska Providers

Heather Schmidt of Broken Bow, Nebraska is the owner of Love & Learn Childcare. She is also a student, part-time Administrative Assistant at Mid-Plains Community College’s Broken Bow Campus, and one of many early care providers staring in the uncertain face of COVID-19.  

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation was glad to speak with Heather and gather her experiences considering these unprecedented events. Our hearts go out to those who are affected by the coronavirus.

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Early Childhood Care and Education in Crisis: How Providers and Educators are Grappling and Adapting in the Face of COVID-19

This blog features an interview with Linda Horner, and describes the struggles of early childhood educators in light of COVID-19.

From creating interactive Facebook platforms for e-learning to navigating uncertain enrollment, early childhood providers’ COVID-19-related struggles and successes are very real, particularly those of Linda Horner. Read about Linda’s experience.

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

COVID-19 INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

Families and children matter now more so than ever, particularly during these uncertain times. Governor Ricketts has issued an Emergency Declaration for COVID-19. This content is intended to be a continuously updated document in a rapidly changing environment. It contains policy changes, opportunities for communities, and general updates connected to response to COVID-19. Please, check back often.

Posted in News and Events

Saddle Up and Get Ready : Perfect Pour 2020 is Rescheduled for August 21st

We’ve taken the reins and are thrilled to have a new date set for Perfect Pour: A Craft Cocktail Competition and benefit for Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, hosted by Friends of Nebraska Children. We look forward to seeing you Friday, August, 21st. It will be a brighter day with a new tequila sunrise on the horizon. Mark your calendars for this Nebraska Children fundraiser; the theme is still country vibes with a tequila twist.

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Posted in News and Events

Afterschool and Summer Learning Network Beyond School Bells and Partnership Coalition Grow the Good Life: Statewide Youth Tree-A-Thon Planned for Arbor Day Weekend and 2020

On Friday, March 13, Beyond School Bells, Nebraska’s afterschool and summer learning network announced its statewide challenge for youth and their communities across the state to collectively plant over 20,000 trees on Arbor Day weekend, April 24-26.

The coalition recognizes the extenuating circumstances due to the Coronavirus and will stay updated on the most current information regarding the virus and whether a postponement of the Arbor Day events will be necessary to a fall planting.

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Posted in Middle Childhood, News and Events, Teen/Early Adulthood

Perfect Pour 2020 Canceled Due to Health Concerns

Due to the growing concerns surrounding the Coronavirus, we are going to postpone Perfect Pour for a future date.

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Posted in News and Events

Early Childhood Programs are Stepping Up to Quality: Falls City Provider Discusses Her Partnership with Sixpence Child Care Partnerships and Falls City Public Schools

According to Stephanie, Sixpence CCP has assisted her with everything from helping her obtain necessary items for a quality childcare facility to providing assistance even during weekends and outside regular workdays to ensuring a smooth progression through Step Up to Quality’s tiers! Read on for the full interview, in her own words.

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Finding Quality Childcare: Sixpence CCP Teams Up with Hastings Public Schools and Pooh Corner to Leave Mark of Excellence

There’s no better indicator of community well-being than a real-life partner’s story! Today, we asked Amanda Cusatis, a licensed childcare provider and one of Sixpence Child Care Partnership Programs, to talk about the initiative’s strengths and key takeaways. But first, we’d like to provide some context for Sixpence and its Child Care Partnerships.

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Pre-Perfect Pour Stir: 8 Questions with Bartender Deion Bass

Deion Bass, bartender at Howard & Fine, is one of our talented Perfect Pour finalists!

Tickets are on sale, and we can’t wait to see you! Purchase Perfect Pour Tickets by March 9 here: http://bit.ly/30uTCFO

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Posted in News and Events

Pre-Perfect Pour Stir: 8 Questions with Bartender Dominick Pruch

Dominick Pruch, a bartender at Hotel Deco, is one of our talented Perfect Pour finalists!

Tickets are on sale, and we can’t wait to see you!

Purchase Perfect Pour Tickets by March 9 here: http://bit.ly/perfectpourNCFF

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Posted in News and Events

Pre-Perfect Pour Stir: 8 Questions with Bartender Phil Athy

Phil Athy, bartender at Mercury, is one of our talented Perfect Pour finalists!

Tickets are on sale, and we can’t wait to see you! Purchase Perfect Pour Tickets by March 9 here: http://bit.ly/30uTCFO

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Posted in News and Events

Old Space, New Digs: Communities for Kids North Platte Team Forges Connections, Maximizes Space, and Creates a New Childcare Facility

What began as a chat at Thriving Children turned into a proposal for the Board of Education. The proposition requested that North Platte Public Schools would partner with Ladybug Crossing Early Learning Center to provide childcare.

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Early Childhood Education Programs: The Spotlight Shines on Auburn, Nebraska

Amanda Ackley, director of Kids of HIS Kingdom Childcare Center, a licensed childcare provider, and one of Sixpence Early Learning Fund’s Child Care Partners told us about the program’s benefits and key takeaways. But first, here’s a bit of background on Sixpence Early Learning Fund and its Childcare Partnerships.

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Support Helps a Driven Young Woman with Foster Care Experience Continue to Thrive

Rosa is smart and talented. She also has foster care experience. What resources did she have to support her during her first semester of college when she relapsed into mental health issues?

Bright, capable Rosa entered the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a long list of scholarships. A trauma survivor who suffers from mental health issues, Rosa’s first semester of college marked a particularly difficult time. What resources did this capable young woman have to support her?

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Posted in News and Events, Teen/Early Adulthood

Early Childhood Success: Lexington, Nebraska Has a New Preschool

Early childhood programs are an ongoing issue for Nebraskan families. What has Lexington, Nebraska done to address this problem? Find out.

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Posted in Early Childhood, News and Events

Reconnecting Youth with Foster Care Experience: Project Everlast and its Supporters Help a Young Man Remain Connected

Read more about how Project Everlast Omaha assisted a young man who had been released from incarceration.

As COVID-19 numbers rise, Project Everlast Omaha seeks out those affected youth in the metro, particularly those released from incarceration. For young members of our community, feeling excluded is hard enough, but being released into an uncertain, altered world is even more taxing.

Read more about how Project Everlast Omaha assisted a young man who had been released from incarceration.

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Posted in News and Events, Systems, Teen/Early Adulthood
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