Early childcare providers combat high turnover and not enough funding

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Early childhood care providers came together in Hastings Friday to discuss the growing need for resources in the state. They are facing a number of issues and want to be able to help children properly develop.

The educators came from all around Nebraska to talk about what they need to properly help development in the first five years of their lives.

This comes shortly after the Department of Health and Human Services announced a new grant to look into the issue. Even with research showing the importance of childhood development the child care providers say there isn't enough funding and resources to properly implement it.

“The critical issue is that the relationship between that teacher or provider and the child is so fundamental to our ability to help that child develop what it is they need to be developing at those critical stages,” Buffett Early Childhood Institute Associate Director Catherine Huddleston-Casas said.

A Buffett Early Childhood Institute survey showed the turnover rate for providers at over 25%. So children are often seeing their caregivers change frequently, which the executive director of the Hastings Head Start Child and Family Development Program said is detrimental to early development.

“Brain development from 0-5 is the largest amount by 100 times what you do any other time in your life,” Executive Director Deb Ross said. “So those relationships, that continuity, that stimulation that they get, that sense of being safe, being read to is so important at this time in their life.”

This meeting comes after the DHHS announced they have been awarded a $4.1 million grant to look into the issue.

Governor Pete Ricketts says the needs assessment will attempt to help with the ongoing issues and support existing programs.

“We know, for example, there are a lot of great outcomes when you can get to kids early with regard to that early childhood development,” Governor Ricketts said. “We are talking pre-K type years. But we also want to quantify that and it's what are the best practices and what are the things we are going to get the most bang for the buck.”

The grant will also go towards getting public input on the topic as well. It will be taking a closer focus to more rural communities and supporting children who are at-risk.