Good Things Come in Threes: Communities for Kids and Partners Enact Three-Phase Approach for Early Childhood Programs and Providers

Communities for Kids, one of Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s Early Childhood initiatives, has been hard at work. As one of our programs designed to support children during their early years and their caregivers, we believe that change begins at the community level.  

We facilitate communities’ hard work by leveraging a variety of public and private resources to create engagement throughout our state.  

Communities for Kids (C4K), which spans over 25 Nebraskan counties, has always been committed to creating more quality, accessible childcare. Despite some of the setbacks, this year has been a big one for C4K.  

From moving early childcare centers to newer, bigger spaces to forming partnerships with schools to forging connections to create a quality, faith-based learning center, C4K creates childcare and connections alike.  

When the pandemic struck, Columbus, Nebraska’s C4K team remained determined to support early care providers and programs. Yet, the struggles have been very real. Toilet paper is scarce. Shelves – which once contained disinfectant –  stand empty. Sanitizer can still be challenging to find, especially for early care programs and providers, whose income and essential services are paramount to finding these necessities.  

In response to these needs, communities have shifted in scope and expanded in focus to help support early care and educational professionals. During the pandemic’s downpour, C4K’s Columbus team found the silver lining.  

After brainstorming, the C4K Columbus’ team reallocated some funds to help support their local childcare providers and programs. The team elected to take a three-phase approach.  

Phase one began with two words: to say “thank you” and assess the needs of Columbus’ childcare providers, who put their lives and health on the line every day to provide an essential service.  

Sara Colford, the Student Services Facilitator at Columbus Public Schools, personally contacted most of the area’s home and center providers to find out which items they needed. She and Heidi Luebbe, Columbus Public Schools’ social worker, then wrote “thank you” cards to the local providers and enclosed a $10 gift certificate to the Broken Mug.  Sara and Heidi managed to purchase a total of 225 gift certificates for their home and center providers. 

Phase two entailed providing supplies for licensed in-home centers, smaller centers, preschools, and larger centers. Smaller centers can be best defined as those not connected to the hospital/churches, as those programs already are in possession of those supplies. On June 11, Community and Family Partnership, C4K, and partners all arranged a pick-up of donated items for childcare providers!   

Thanks to C4K’s resources and partners, including Community and Family Partnership, C4K gathered and distributed toilet paper, paper towels, Clorox wipes, sanitizer sprays for toys, hand soap, hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, and thermometers.  

Columbus' Communities for Kids, the Community and Family Partnership, Columbus Public Schools, and other partners stand at attention, ready to hand out essential items.
Columbus’ Communities for Kids, Community and Family Partnership, Columbus Public Schools, and other partners stand at attention, ready to hand out essential items.

Phase three will help providers with required trainings. Certain courses such as CPR and re-certification classes are ongoing necessities for childcare providers. Some providers need re-certification now, and in-person trainings are not being offered. Columbus’ C4K intends to address this issue by providing ZOOM meetings in the near future.  

Supply donations were made possible by: Community for Kids Coalition, Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Columbus Public Schools, Community and Family Partnership, Cargill, East Central District Health Department, Department of Health and Human Services, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, Platte Valley Early Learning Connection, Orphan Grain Train, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

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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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