by Susan Sarver, Buffett Early Childhood Institute – written for the PDG quarterly eNewsletter
Preschool Development Grant (PDG) work started in the Spring of 2019 with the launch of a comprehensive needs assessment that identified strengths and gaps in Nebraska’s ECCE system. Through surveys, interviews, and focus groups, the needs assessment reached over 5,100 people in Nebraska. The findings of the Needs Assessment
- greatly expanded our understanding of how families are using ECCE services;
- gave us new insights into the challenges faced by families with children experiencing vulnerabilities and those living in rural areas; and
- highlighted needs, gaps, and barriers in the system that limit families’ access to quality care.
The findings of the Needs Assessment were shared with stakeholders in communities across the state.
The analysis of stakeholder suggestions resulted in the first set of priorities for taking action. Those priorities were the foundation for the goals, objectives, and strategies of the Nebraska Early Childhood Strategic Plan.
- Over 250 stakeholders contributed to the development of the Strategic Plan, including parents, providers, caregivers, school teachers and administrators, university professors, program managers, early childhood advocates, and state agency staff.
The Nebraska Early Childhood Strategic Plan
For the Nebraska Early Childhood Strategic Plan, stakeholders described a vision for a future where each child and their family in Nebraska will
- experience quality care and education that nurtures each child’s full social, emotional, cognitive, physical and linguistic potential regardless of historical barriers related to race, ethnicity, income, gender, language of origin, disability, or any other social or cultural characteristic;
- access essential services to support optimal early development and learning;
- easily access quality ECCE and essential services in their community;
- experience successful transitions across settings; and
- have the information they need to help their child thrive.
The Nebraska Early Childhood Strategic Plan defines four goals deigned to create a more integrated ECCE system in which children continuously experience quality from birth through the transition to school. The goals and objectives of this plan focus on systems alignment and increased collaboration at the state and community levels.
- Access: Each child and their family can access the quality ECCE services and the essential services they need to support each child’s healthy development.
- Quality: All ECCE settings provide quality experiences for children.
- Community Collaboration: Communities coordinate a locally designed mixed delivery system that provides continuous care and meets the needs of families.
- Systems Alignment: Statewide systems align to support communities in creating an integrated and comprehensive mixed delivery system for all children.
Next Steps… Action Plans!
The first phase of developing the Strategic Plan and its goals, objectives, and strategies was completed in February 2020. The final strategic plan will be available later in the Spring of 2020. Watch for an announcement and a link to the plan in the next newsletter and www.nebraskapdg.org.
In Phase 2, we will begin developing action plans for the objectives and strategies. With so much good work already going on for the youngest Nebraskans, we will collaborate with ongoing workgroups to design integrated action plans. We look forward to engaging stakeholders throughout this process to address community-specific interests as these action plans are created.