Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Committee plans to strengthen childhood workforce

Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 3:59 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Today the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee heard testimony on LR390, a resolution to assess the economic impact of COVID-19 and the childhood care and education system.

The Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Committee was tasked to develop a plan to strengthen the state’s early childhood workforce, something senator John Stinner says is needed with our state’s working parents.

“Were either one of the top five in the nation per capita with two people working outside the home, so that tells you this is an important subject for all Nebraskan’s, it’s also an important subject when we take a look at COVID because putting people back to work, highly relying on childcare it’s got to be stable it’s got to be in place.”

The committee created a goal to fully fund a high-quality care and education system by 2030 and then COVID hit. Director for the division of children and family services at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Stephanie Beasley testified, laying out the state’s closure.

“Since the Governor declared a state of emergency in March of 2020; 675 licensed childcare providers have reported a closure for their families for at least a day, in addition at least 63 facilities have permanently closed, and 224 childcare facilities remain temporarily closed,” said Beasley.

Much like everyone Mariah Stowe, a childcare provider and owner of Splash of Color in Lincoln struggled with the safety and financial concerns in this pandemic.

“I had a lot of open conversations with my staff and my husband about what to do, I sent surveys out to the families out in my program to get an idea of what they needed from me and in the end what it came down to was we couldn’t afford to close,” said Stowe.

As the country struggled to find cleaning supplies, protective equipment, and with limited financial resources Mariah doesn’t know what she will do if things get worse.

“I come before you today so that you can better understand what one childhood program can do and does do on a typical day, we nurture children and help working parents stay working, I don’t know what will happen with the pandemic continues or gets worse this coming winter season, while I have adapted, it hasn’t been easy, and many programs haven’t been able to continue going,” said Stowe.

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