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

Early Childhood Programs: Why the First Three Years are Important 

At Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, we envision a state where we create positive change through community engagement. For the youngest members of our community, we understand how imperative those early years are.  

There are numerous studies that link quality early childhood programs to later successes in children’s lives. During these developmental years, the relationships that children form with caregivers and friends will pave the way for their future, too. We envision a Nebraska where all children can thrive; toddlers, infants, and their caregivers are certainly no exception.  

Our vision: a Nebraska where our youngest members and caregivers thrive.

Sixpence Child Care Partnerships, one of Nebraska Children’s early childhood programs, supports vulnerable infants and toddlers so they can lead a successful, thriving life. Sixpence utilizes Federal Child Care Development Funds to promote high-quality early childhood development and education.  

As we dive deeper into Sixpence CCP’s successful partnerships, we’re heartened to hear about several early childhood providers’ heightened quality and success, including childcare providers Penny Gerking and Amanda Ackley of Auburn, Nebraska, and of today, Stephanie Beckner of Falls City! 

Stephanie Beckner, director of Little Bee’s Child Care Center, a licensed childcare provider, and one of Sixpence’s Child Care Partners (Sixpence CCP) told us about the program’s benefits and takeaways. Before we speak with Stephanie, we’ll discuss what Sixpence CCP is and how it works.  

Early Childhood Fund is Hardly a Baby: Background on Sixpence  

Sixpence was initiated in 2006 when major state agencies and private philanthropy sectors united to form a public and private endowment that provided sustainable funding for school districts to administer or partner with home or center-based childcare facilities. These partnerships were formed on behalf of forging high-quality early learning initiatives that serve Nebraska’s youngest and most vulnerable children.  

A governor-appointed Board of Trustees represent the public and private sector’s interests. Through a competitive grant process, the Board awards the endowment’s investment earnings and appropriated state and federal funds to community-based early learning partnerships. The grant process is managed by Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, who enhances and helps to increase early childhood program quality. 

Early Childhood Change: Sixpence CCP Cultivate Quality  

Created in 2015, Sixpence (CCP) is a collaboration between school districts and early childhood programs that serve infants and toddlers up to age 3. This effort leverages federal Child Care Development Funds and aims to increase the quality of local early childhood programs.  

Sixpence CCP’s benefits include trainings, coaching, and financial support for childcare providers to progress in Step Up to Quality, Nebraska’s quality rating and improvement system which supports, increases, and sustains high-quality care for providers and teachers. 

Stephanie with her coach, Susan Witt. 

In Stephanie’s case, Falls City Public Schools employs the “Coach,” a certified teacher that works with childcare providers to achieve sequential ratings in Step Up to Quality.  

Housed in the downtown business district in Falls City, the coach facilitates trainings and networking opportunities, purchases equipment and supplies scores, and regularly coaches to maximize the provider’s quality.  

In the midst of trainings and coaching sessions, we caught up with Stephanie Beckner, the owner of Little Bee’s Child Care, to hear all about her experience and takeaways from her partnership with Falls City Public Schools and Sixpence CCP.  

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. 

Little Bee’s Stephanie Beckner

What community is your Sixpence CCP program? 

Falls City, Nebraska 

What Step are you currently at? 

Step 4 

How has the Sixpence CCP program supported you? 

Sixpence CCP has supported me the last three-and-half years by helping me to get items I need to make my program the best it can be. Also having the guidance and help from my coach, Susan Witt, has made the task of increasing the quality of my childcare not so hard. I could not have done it without her.   

What do you like about the Sixpence CCP program? What are the benefits you have seen for your program?  

What I like the most about the Sixpence CCP program is Susan Witt. When she stops by for visits, she not only brings a smile to my face but also to all my daycare children, they get so excited when she stops by.  I also like that [Sixpence CCP?] ha[s] brought the daycares in our town closer together, we have grown together and are now more of a community then we have been before. Another thing that I love about the Sixpence CCP program is how they will pay for our trainings that cost money and also pay us for the time we spend at the trainings. We have to have the trainings for our licenses and to have the help with them is such a relief.  It is also nice to have them bring trainings to our town and to be offered transportation to the ones that are out of town.   

The benefits that I have seen in my program is mainly my peace of mind, having a support system is very comforting. When I feel overwhelmed, I know that I can call Susan and she will help me with whatever I would need. If it is just needing an adult to talk to, helping me sign up for a training, helping me to navigate through sometimes confusing [programmatic paperwork] or reminding me to update my NECPRS [Nebraska Early Childhood Professional Record System]1. She is always there. Even on weekends.   

What are your key takeaways from your time with Sixpence CCP? 

That having the help of a wonderful coach and support of my peers can get me through tough times. I think they have also shown me how to be the best provider that I can be, and they continue to help me grow. 

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Read More Sixpence CCP Success Stories from Hastings, NE

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation supports children, young adults and families at risk with the overall goal of giving our state's most vulnerable kids what they need to reach their full potential. We do this by building strong communities that support families so their children can grow up to be thriving, productive adults.

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