- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Early childhood education leaders are hoping to make Nebraska a national model thanks to a partnership between the Buffett Early Childhood Institute and the University of Nebraska.

The Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission is beginning a three-year collaboration to solve some of the most pressing issues facing early childhood education, the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/2lKEnXN ) reported.

The 39-member group of public- and private-sector leaders is looking to address a shortage of child care workers, inadequate training for early childhood educators and abysmal salaries for the workers.

“The three threads go together. You cannot have one that is not integrated with the others,” said Marjorie Kostelnik, dean of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Education and Human Sciences. “We don’t just need a place to put a child. We need a high-quality place, a stimulating place and a nurturing place.”

Kostelnik said research from Nobel laureate James Heckman supports long-held theories that children’s earliest experiences pay off later in life.

Buffett Institute Executive Director Samuel Meisels says child care is not just a parenting issue, but a professional crisis for Nebraska.

“If kids are not cared for well early on and don’t thrive and contribute as they grow into adulthood, they will be a burden as they grow,” Meisels said.

The average salary for child care professionals in the state was about $19,600 in 2015, which is below the poverty line for a family of three.

He says for people to not see early childhood education as a community issue is “an outmoded view” of family, economy and gender.

“Families are the community. It’s a partnership between family and community, not an either-or,” Kostelnik said. “Families can rely on the community support and communities can rely on families to remain in the community and contribute.”


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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