A partnership of ESU 13, Panhandle Partnership and the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska Wednesday unveiled the results of an early childhood study that’s been three years in the making.
ESU 13 Administrator Jeff West says the study found early childhood care and education was both the biggest point of pride and concern among the more than 200 Panhandle residents surveyed, especially when it comes to programs such as Sixpence and Early Head Start. “Communities overwhelming said that was something that was important to them, in a positive way”, says West. “The other side of it: costs. Not only the cost to send children to high-quality programs, but also the availability of those high-quality programs in some of our communities.”
West says the next steps to take place will be development of strategic plans to address areas of concern or lack of resources, and then to find the funding to address those areas of need.
Matthew Blomstedt, Nebraska Education Commissioner, says the process and partnership is a first for Nebraska. “It’s an opportunity for us to see a model for how partnerships would come together to build this type of report, and puts us in a position to really learn from this across the state.”
The report was unveiled at the Gering Civic Center to education and business leaders. You can view the results online by visiting buffettinstitute.nebraska.edu and search for “The Nebraska Panhandle: An Assessment of Birth to Grade 3 Care and Education.”