Dimensions Education Programs in Lincoln, Neb., provides a hands-on, experiential approach to learning that is based on the needs and curiosity of young children. We Care for Kids is a campaign in the state that is raising awareness of the importance of quality early childhood education in Nebraska. (Courtesy of We Care for Kids)
LINCOLN — Nebraska has been awarded another federal grant, this one a $4 million boost, to fortify the state’s efforts related to preschool development.
The State Department of Health and Human Services learned about three months ago it would be one of 21 states and territories to receive an award from the Administration for Children and Families. Nebraska’s HHS issued a news release this week with more details.
Spokesman Jeff Powell said the newly received grant will build on work the state has done over the past four years with previous “Preschool Development Birth through Five” grants, also known as PDG B-5 funding.
In total, that funding amounts to about $35 million, he said, and required an additional 30% in private investment as match dollars.
Laying the groundwork
The first $4 million grant, awarded in 2019, laid groundwork for the next three years during which Nebraska received about $27 million.
Powell said the most recent grant is aimed at evaluating the work of the previous strategic plan as well as updating needs.
He said the money, in part, is used to identify ways to improve the early child care workforce, to offer parent education programs that help caregivers build on relationships with the children, and to grow the child care infrastructure.
Other recent efforts
Separate from the PDG B-5 grants, recent state efforts in child care development include workforce stipends and grants to help child care workers repay student loans. A new Business and Child Care Partnership Grant program also intends to provide opportunities to start a licensed child care program.
Much of those efforts were funded by tens of millions of dollars from the pandemic-related America Rescue Plan Act.
Also, by the year’s end, the department and partners in the state’s executive, legislative and judicial branches are to prepare a report to help transform child and family well-being in Nebraska.
That report was required under Legislative Bill 1173, a measure adopted last year by state lawmakers. Community forums — bringing together stakeholders in the child welfare system, including child care providers, schools and judges — are ongoing through October in various parts of the state.
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