Community leaders call for more early childhood development programs

KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - Leaders all across Nebraska came together Monday in Kearney to talk about improving care and education for young children.

More than 250 civic, business and education leaders from over 70 communities across the state attended a conference at the Younes Conference Center focused on developing more early childhood development programs across the state.

"It's needed across the board," said Sen. John Lowe, District 37. "It'll help education farther on. So the sooner we can get to these children, and to educate them, it gives them advancement when they get to preschool and then into school itself."

One of the major things discussed was to develop more community partnerships between the schools and local businesses.

"We're reaching out to our community partners. We can't provide all of the child care services within the school districts, so we're looking for outside providers, and we're trying to work in partnership with them so that we can continue to evolve all together," said Carol Renner, director of student services at Kearney Public Schools.

Renner said more programs will help bring more people to central Nebraska.

"Parents are always looking for high quality educational opportunities. It doesn't start at the kindergarten level, it actually starts at a younger level. So if we can really enhance what we're doing, with internal providers in our schools and the external, we've got to step up with what families want," Renner said.

Other community leaders addressed the importance of everyone in the community working together to achieve this goal.

"Almost everybody in Nebraska works, so that's moms and dads. So we really need to find great developmental ways for infants and toddlers moving up into preschool to be in great, great, great circumstances," said Jeff Yost, president of the Nebraska Community Foundation.