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Nebraska

$66 million headed to support Nebraska child care workers with stipends, student loan aid

OMAHA — To construct Nebraska’s childcare workforce, the state is making ready to distribute $66 million in incentives, together with grants for workers and student loan repayments.

The funds are focused at suppliers and employees and are supposed to develop entry to high quality childcare.

Applications for the {dollars} shall be accepted beginning in December, state officers mentioned Thursday.

Difficult choices

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has scheduled digital informational periods in English and Spanish for November 14-17.

“The nationwide lack of quality childcare options is a persistent obstacle that forces families to make difficult decisions, such as retiring from the workforce,” mentioned Stephanie Beasley, director of the division’s Children and Family Services division. “This investment in Nebraska’s vital workforce will help improve childcare opportunities for working families and support professionals in this important work.”

Mike Medwick, strategic communications supervisor for First Five Nebraska, which focuses on early childhood care, mentioned the funding is a step in the correct route.

“Anything that moves the needle is important,” he mentioned. “It is a long way.”

According to Medwick, Nebraska ranks sixth nationally based mostly on census information for the variety of kids beneath the age of 6 with all mother and father working within the residence.

legislative work forward

This reinforces, he mentioned, the “urgent need” for high quality childcare and manpower to serve this inhabitants.

Medwick mentioned quite a lot of methods are wanted to meet the rising demand for professionals within the subject.

Challenges embrace “high levels of engagement with low rewards,” he mentioned.

“We still have a lot of work to do to make this profession a more attractive place to start and thrive,” Medwick mentioned.

First Five Nebraska is anticipating proposals to appeal to extra childcare workers within the subsequent legislative session.

DHHS spokesman Jeff Powell mentioned the scarcity was an emergency earlier than the pandemic and has solely gotten worse.

The $66 million comes from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act Child Care Stabilization Grant Administration Assistance.

Additional childcare grant funding ought to be obtainable early subsequent 12 months to develop operations, in accordance to DHHS.

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