Communities for Kids and Nebraska Children and Families Foundation provide the Core Community Team and the greater community background information on the child care industry along with other resources that help center the conversation around the importance of brain development in children, as well as child care’s link to strong communities. Detailed demographic information is prepared along with relevant information that highlights the strengths and gaps of the community related to early childhood. The community then identifies innovative solutions to address challenges, and these strategies, combined with local research and assessment, are included in a customized Priority Matrix/Action plan. The community also receives technical support, business modeling, leadership and policy training, and ongoing project implementation supports.
Communities that are invited to participate in Communities for Kids can expect the following:
- Events that educate community members about the link between quality child care, rural economic development, and viable communities
- The Core Community Team will increase their capacity to drive change by identifying resources and focusing their efforts on innovations that make a difference in the quality and supply of child care
- A thorough assessment and analysis of the current child care supply and demand, as well as evaluation of community factors impacting the local child care supply
- Access to Nebraska Children’s expertise, resources, and tools, including research and financial modeling
- Connection to early childhood experts in a wide range of topics
- A Priority Matrix/Action plan that includes innovative solutions generated by the community through a facilitated discussion and assessment process
- Support and business improvement services to existing family child care providers and child care centers
The Core Team, identified in the community’s application, is a core group of local leaders who become champions of child care as an economic development strategy. These community leaders will receive specific training and technical assistance throughout the process from Nebraska Children. The Core Team will provide leadership to identify solutions to the community’s child care challenges.
How does the greater community participate?
Through demonstration and guided support, Nebraska Children prepares the Core Team to talk about the child care needs in the community through crafted presentations tailored for different audiences, such as with businesses and in the greater community. One of the keystone activities of the overall effort is a community meeting to discuss the identified needs for child care in the community and lead the discussion on specific action outcomes the community chooses to pursue.
While the broader conversation around child care needs continues, Nebraska Children and other early childhood and business experts will work directly with local child care centers and family child care providers on their business needs. This could include a one-year subscription to Early Childhood Exchange, web-based early childhood resources, and one-on-one individualized consultation to identify needs to help support long-term sustainability efforts and profitability of their programs.
How can my community get involved?
The Communities for Kids initiative is based on the fundamental idea that thriving communities are greater than their current challenges. By mobilizing and coming together around a current issue, analyzing data, and understanding the community’s needs, a community action plan can steer the core leadership group to the right-sized solution. If your community is interested in Communities for Kids, you can submit an application by filling out the survey information and emailing to Nebraska Children at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis and considered based on the following factors:
- Community readiness factors
- Leadership, passion, an active early childhood group/programming/steering committee
- Commitment to a long-term project
- Local infrastructure/funding possibilities in place
- Articulated need
- Gathering of initial data
- Core Team development and commitment
- Needs of the community (e.g., poverty, early childhood capacity/need, school test scores)
- Local economic factors
- History of community work/achievement of past goals
Due to generous funding from philanthropic partners, Nebraska Children does not require payment to participate in the Communities for Kids initiative. Funding is available to assist communities in activities and events that support the planning process. No implementation funding is guaranteed as a result of participation in the initiative. A budget template will be provided to select communities to plan for costs associated with meetings, travel, convenings, community events, surveys, and incentives.