Several members of the Stick Creek Kids leadership team were among more than 400 civic, business, and education leaders from 92 Nebraska communities attending the 2019 Thriving Children, Families and Communities Conference on September 16-17 in Kearney. Participants learned more about how providing high-quality early childhood education can support a town’s children, its families and its economy.
Early childhood programs play a key role in community economic development—both because working families seek reliable, quality care in choosing where to live and because research shows that children who have benefited from high-quality early childhood programs become better students, better employees, and more productive citizens. The conference is held in response to statewide calls to better understand how communities can provide high-quality early childhood education. It offers opportunities for attendees to share success stories and challenges, learn from each other, and develop action plans for implementing high-quality care and education from birth through third grade. With the progress made so far in Wood River and Stick Creek Kids campaign, Wood River was invited to lead in some of the panels including Elizabeth Troyer-Miller in Cities in Action: Building Early Learning Communities and Sara Arnett in Capital Projects: Tools for Funding Your Center.
Following the first day, those participating in Communities for Kids were invited for a second day of more extensive planning and progress meetings, including Stick Creek Kids leadership team. That evening, Wood River hosted Nancy Lim of the National League of Cities. Wood River is one of six communities in Nebraska and the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation participating in a National League of Cities initiative, City Leadership for Building an Early Learning Nation.
This year’s event was sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Education, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, First Five Nebraska, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, Nebraska Community Foundation, Nebraska Extension, Buffett Early Childhood Fund, and the Buffett Early Childhood Institute.
Partnering organizations are the Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children, Nebraska Association of School Boards, Nebraska Business Development Center, Nebraska Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Nebraska Council of School Administrators, Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative, Nebraska ESU Coordinating Council, Nebraska Head Start Association, Nebraska Hospital Association, Nebraska State Education Association, Panhandle Partnership, Inc., and the Rural Futures Institute.