For more information: Anne Brandt, Executive Director, Lincoln Littles
402- 525-0183, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lincoln’s littlest residents are feeling the impact of the ongoing pandemic as the reality of the community’s child care landscape shifts and changes.
Some child care facilities have closed their doors. Grandparents, who have been advised to isolate, are often helpless to offer support. Other providers have fewer children – with schools closing and more parents staying home – but remain active with openings. The result is that working parents, who often hold those essential jobs in our community, are left in search of affordable, quality child care.
Help is on the way. Lincoln community leaders announced Friday that they are stepping up to connect parents with available licensed child care throughout the city – establishing ChildcareLNK, an extensive catalog of the more than 700 current child care openings in the community – with collaboration among Lincoln Littles, the University of Nebraska’s Public Policy Center, the City of Lincoln and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.
Parents who fill essential jobs in health care, nursing homes, police and fire departments, grocery stores – as well as childcare employees – are in need of quality care, said Anne Brandt, executive director of Lincoln Littles. ChildcareLNK was created to connect parents – who suddenly need child care – with providers who have openings. “This vital tool was missing in our community prior to the pandemic, but the current crisis has clarified that need.”
Some child care facilities have indeed closed, she said, but the reality is that many have stayed open, have capacity and are available for families who have child care needs. Brandt said the challenge is finding a method of connecting parents with child care providers: “There is affordable quality child care available in Lincoln. There are trained, licensed providers who offer good solid places for our families to go – for all age groups of children in all areas of town. We just have to help families find them.”
In addition, there are also 19 programs that offer Lincoln Littles tuition assistance for families who meet qualifications. More information about the Lincoln Littles tuition assistance can be found here, https://lincolnlittles.org/.
The community’s Covid-19 ChildcareLNK includes a list of licensed providers that have current capacity, as well as additional details:
- Name of program, contact name, phone number, address
- Age of children eligible for the program
- Hours, weekend or overnight care
- Step Up to Quality ratings
Suzanne Schneider, Early Childhood Coordinator for Lincoln Littles, explained that their endeavor started with a survey of direct participants in the Lincoln Littles Giving Day hosted by the Lincoln Community Foundation. But the list has expanded to more than 50 providers and continues to grow – with additional input from the City of Lincoln and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.
“We are only in the beginning pandemic stages in Lincoln and we believe the most difficult time is coming, when we will see even greater need,” Schneider said. “But we also believe we are getting just ahead of it.”
Nancy Shank, associate director of the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, agreed. “ChildcareLNK fills so many needs: We are helping parents who need child care. We are helping providers who are looking for families who need child care. And we are helping local businesses and organizations who need their employees to be working.”
These kinds of support systems do not happen by accident, she stressed.
“This is what can happen when a community works together and comes together in a time of crisis … when our community benefits from having so many programs already in place. We were able to get ahead of the curve because we are a resilient community that had already built a network and had mechanisms ready.”
The community’s Prosper Lincoln initiative, that resulted in launching a significant focus on early childhood, had already resulted in a serious push to expand the availability of affordable and quality child care, Shank explained.
She also emphasized the incredible value of the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation that has offered ongoing support and is working on a establishing a statewide data base of providers.
Brandt said she wanted to underline the valuable contribution child care providers are making during this ongoing crisis. “I think the community is coming to a better understanding that child care providers and their employees are definitely among our most essential employees right now, and always.”
- You can access ChildcareLNK by downloading the free MyLNK app – or by going to MyLNK.app and searching for ChildcareLNK.
- If you are a childcare provider and want to provide information about your availability, please contact Suzanne Schneider at SSchneider@nebraskachildren.org.
*Lincoln Littles, which evolved out of Prosper Lincoln, is elevating early childhood in the Lincoln community. The mission of Lincoln Littles is increasing capacity, quality and sustainability to nurture every child on the path of success.