Early childhood education needs being explored in Boone County

Improving opportunities for early childhood education is one of the goals of the “Communities for Kids Initiative.”
This initiative was created in response to requests for assistance with shortages of high-quality early care and education programs that impact children’s optimal development and pose a challenge for communities hoping to attract and retain the viable workforce they need to thrive.
Communities for Kids seeks to work with communities to support and coordinate access to high quality early care and education, with customized programs to address each community’s assents and needs.
Boone County has been accepted into this cohort group.
Information about the Communities for Kids initiative will be available at the Big Give Wrap Party this Friday evening, Nov. 30, at the Albion Country Club.
Community support will be a key to success for this initiative. A steering committee is in place, and an educational/awareness campaign is being planned for 2019 to educate the public about the overall project and the benefits to the community.
In support of the participating communities, the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation will provide support and expertise to:
• engage stakeholders in identifying the strengths and gaps of the current early care and education resources in their community by completing the Early Childhood System of Care (ECSOC) Community Self-Assessment.
• use informed decision-making to determine strategies and desired outcomes most relevant to meeting the priority needs identified in the community assessment and detailing a business plan when indicated.
• connect communities with experts and information regarding research, best practices, implementation, quality measurements, financing, use of government/public resources, and physical environmental designs, etc.
• explore and assist communities with applying for all available sources of funding (private/public grants, public funding programs such as child care subsidy, no- or low-interest loans, etc.) to implement and sustain the identified strategies.
Boone County Foundation Fund has two initiatives already in place.
Cardinal Kids Club
One is the Cardinal Kids Club, an after school program for kindergarten through fifth graders at Boone Central Public Schools. This program provides after school care, including homework assistance, snacks, and active play. Students will also have the opportunity to take part in hands-on learning activities that are STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) driven and are aligned with Nebraska readiness standards.
Child Care Initiative
Boone County Foundation Fund is exploring the concept of a community based child care center. Data is being collected to assist in establishing community need and interest in a child care facility.
Child care availability and quality affects all community members with and without children. Specifically, child care impacts economic development. Without child care, businesses are unable to hire and retain employees with children.