Early childhood educators are essential to helping Nebraska thrive, bringing out the best in children, preparing them for school and life. We Care for Kids is listening to and lifting up the stories of early childhood educators so Nebraskans can appreciate your essential work and hear what you have to say.
What goes into helping children and families thrive, what are your challenges as a professional, what do you need to stay in the profession—and what do you want people to know about the power of your work?
Hear stories from educators in your community and use the form below to share yours.
“I love my career in early childhood and often have kids enter my program from the time they are babies and continue through school. Children learn and grow through nurturing relationships, hands-on experiences, and quality environments. Our program strives for high-quality early care and learning environments as that sets the stage for a lifetime of ongoing learning, good health, and productivity. We have a Step Up to Quality-5 rating. Family child care is truly about building those relationships and being one big family!”Brandy Price, Owner/Teacher, ABC,123 Childcare, Pierce, NE
“As a teacher, you have to get to know the children and families, their story, culture, customs, and establish a relationship of trust. This way, we can provide the necessary and appropriate help in an individualized and personalized way, depending on the needs of each family.”Ingrid Lindal Chavarria, Extension Educator for the Early Childhood Interest Group, Nebraska Extension, Wilber, NE
“I am currently the owner of two family home-based child care centers in rural Firth, Nebraska. I am formerly an elementary teacher and started my first in-home child care a little over 16 years ago when my children were young. The need for child care in the Firth area is great. I tried to help with the need back in 2019 by opening a second location. While I was able to serve more families, it just isn't enough to serve the needs of the growing Firth community. I wish I could do more but do love serving the families currently in my care and know I am making a difference in many children's lives.”April Bell, Owner, April’s Daycare & Preschool, Firth, NE
“To stay in the profession, educators need support and recognition. When educators hear the impact they are making on children, it drives them to continue their work. It’s important to us that all our classroom teachers feel seen and that all of their work helps the next teacher be successful. We need the rest of the world to recognize these early childhood teachers as valuable. Our staff are wonderful, and what they do is so impactful and I'm proud of them every day!”Kristine VanHoosen, Director, Stick Creek Kids Development Center, Wood River, NE
“I love seeing the progress of each child who attends my program. I am proud to know that I am one of the people who positively influences the life and future of each child and their family. Our community must know the importance of early childhood education, as it impacts their brain development, memory, emotions, learning, reasoning, and how they will solve problems and make decisions throughout life. At this time, there is a great need for early childhood educators. It’s difficult for families to find someone to care for and educate our children, and that is why I am receiving more training and mentoring, so I can support Spanish-speaking providers so we can improve and offer quality family home child care programs.”Carime Ruvalcaba, Owner, Karime Child Care LLC, Grand Island, NE
"As an early childhood educator, I work to understand the goals of each family and meet them where they are. There is a time to care and a time to educate, but you can't have one without the other. If people truly care about Nebraska’s kids and our future, they should care to support early childhood educators.”Chelsea Larkins, Early Childhood Special Educator, Raymond, NE
“Right now, my greatest challenge is knowing there is such a need for early childhood care and education and I cannot support more families and more children. We need all community partners to come to the table and not just say we are listening, but actually be creative in addressing the child care shortage. We need to elevate the profession both within and outside of the profession. Early childhood education is a foundational piece to each and every one of our communities. If we don't have quality, stable early childhood care and education in our communities, it's a trickle-down effect that impacts everyone.”Amy Vinton, Owner/Teacher, Great Beginnings Child Care and Preschool Program, Kearney, NE
“Child care providers in our communities should be as highly regarded as their K-12 counterparts and compensated accordingly. The work that they do and the lives that they impact are just as important as other education professions. We are experiencing a child care crisis in our communities with child care workers leaving the field, which is leaving families without care. In order to maintain a reliable and high-quality workforce, we must address compensation and benefits for ALL child care professionals. And, we must find a solution that does not result in increased tuition for families. Without affordable and accessible child care, families are unable to contribute to the growth of Nebraska's economy and that's bad for Nebraska.”Kaycee Meister, Parent Ambassador/Workforce Development Coordinator, Westside Early Childhood Centers, Omaha, NE
“Building a trusting relationship with each family is important for children and families to thrive. We let them know that we are here to help them succeed as parents, and in society. We help make sure that their basic needs are being met, including food, shelter and medical needs. Once we have built the foundation of trust, we can teach families activities that they can learn together. We can identify families’ strengths, identify new ones, and help them expand and grow stronger.”Susan Johnson, Family Educator and Director of Falls City Sixpence at Falls City Public Schools, Fall City, NE
“There are many great programs out there to help improve the quality of care for Nebraska families, but there needs to be more support for those who run early childhood programs. Many parents are looking for quality child care and there are not enough open spots. We are the foundation builders for children. Quality child care and early learning builds the foundation that supports all other learning and parts of life and we do so much more than teach. We need to be able to earn a decent living and most early childhood providers do not have retirement or health benefits. This is something we need to find a way to fix. We need to do better for Nebraska's children by supporting early childhood foundation builders.”Penny Gerking, Owner, Little Gerkin’s Childcare, Auburn, NE
Learn more about our partners and their incredible work that helps Nebraska’s children thrive.