KPS Public / Private Early Learning Partnership Succeeds

Kearney Public Schools received a Sixpence Child Care Partnership grant to support community child care providers by providing guidance and tools to improve skills in addressing children’s needs - birth to three years. The grant provided funding to local Kearney child care providers to partner with KPS to meet Nebraska Step Up to Quality ratings. These ratings are a mark of quality for those Nebraska child care providers who enroll and choose to provide parents with the highest quality programming. “It is crucial that providers and educators across the state have a mutual understanding of what quality looks like in the child care environment and that they feel supported on their path to quality,” said Lauri Cimino, director of Step Up to Quality.

Family and childcare providers partnering with the KPS Sixpence grant receive resources, curriculum, training, and materials. A KPS Sixpence Community Outreach Coordinator/Step Up to Quality coach supports the work.

Considering that Early Childhood Education is one of the four pillars of Kearney Public Schools’ strategic plan, such partnerships allow KPS to include and support community child care providers as partners in learning. When child care providers commit to continually increasing quality within their programs, a greater number of Kearney students will enter kindergarten with stronger language and social-emotional skills.

The Sixpence Community Child Care Partnership grant has supported five Kearney family/child care providers: Angelica Johnson, Laurie Ziems, Sandy Campa, Kidtopia Childcare, and Sonshine World Day Care. These committed family and center-based programs went the extra mile in improving their services through professional development, new strategies, and new designs of their learning environments. These partners were already demonstrating quality in their settings, but chose to do the work to ‘step up to quality.’

Step Up to Quality programs go beyond state licensing requirements to better serve the needs of young children and their families and to prepare them for success in kindergarten.

The SU2Q results support the effort. All centers achieved a higher rating in Nebraska Step Up to Quality program that assures high-quality services for infants and toddlers. Three family child care homes - Angelica Johnson, Laurie Ziems, and Sandy Campa - achieved the highest possible state ratings. Two center-based programs Sonshine World and Kidtopia raised their score and will reach the Sixpence target for Step Up to Quality rating. We expect to achieve or exceed 100% of our targets by the end of the grant period - 2019. The relationship between public and private partners has been very successful. Parents in these settings are receiving quality child care. We are learning together what works for young children.

For more information, contact:, Child Care Community Outreach Coordinator, Kearney Public Schools. (308 708 8032)