The Holland Children’s Movement is focused on addressing critical public policy changes needed in Nebraska to improve outcomes for children born into low-income families. We are committed to supporting policies that will directly and positively impact not only the whole child, but the whole family. This begins with access to prenatal care for all women.
While Nebraska is one of the few states that provide universal access to prenatal care for all women, 25% of women did not receive care in the first 3 months of pregnancy. The first trimester is a critical time during pregnancy and we will work to assure that all women know and have access to care.
The next critical stage in child development begins in the first days after birth. For first time mothers in low-income situations this is a time when counseling and support designed to assist them in developing the parenting skills are most needed. Those needs include assurance that their child will receive the nurturing, nutrition, developmental stimulation, love and affection needed for full social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. It is estimated that of the 25,000 live births in Nebraska each year, the 11,000 births to families of low-income are in need of home visitation and parenting skills instruction in order to assure the opportunity for each child to develop their full potential.
The Holland Children’s Movement is founded on the strong belief that the greatest single action needed to improve the performance of Nebraska’s children is to improve the quality and availability of early childhood care and education. Nebraska’s current state subsidized child care system provides low or unknown quality of care for most of the 44,000 children receiving state-subsidized care. Improving the quality of state-subsidized child care and creating standards for child care providers designed to assure that children receiving state subsidized child care are being properly prepared for kindergarten is a priority for changing outcomes.
The 2013 Nebraska Legislature created Step Up to Quality, a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) to assess, improve and communicate the quality of early childhood education programs, with targeted attention and resources for programs that receive more than $250,000 per year in state and federal child care subsidy reimbursements. Fully and effectively implementing Step Up to Quality is crucial to changing outcomes for the children of low-income families who arrive at kindergarten with serious deficits in vocabulary, cognitive and social and emotional development compared to their peers.
The Holland Children’s Movement will work with the State of Nebraska and child care providers to successfully implement the QRIS in Nebraska and assist child care providers and parents to assure that every child has access to highly rated child care designed to give children the skills needed to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. We will also continue to advocate for expanded state funding for Nebraska’s high-quality public pre-K programs to increase access for the 69% of low-income 3 and 4-year-olds statewide who are currently unserved.