KEARNEY, Neb. -- Over 70 Nebraska communities met up in Kearney on Monday to focus on quality care and education for young children.
The daylong conference focused on the role that early childhood programs play in the community and how high-quality programs attract working families who seek quality care.
Seven statewide organizations sponsored the event with more than 250 civic, businesses and education leaders attending.
The conference teaching the importance of ensuring high-quality learning experiences for young children and the role partnerships play in establishing that quality.
"Kearney just like almost every area of Nebraska is seeing a real need. There is a great shortage of early childhood teachers, especially qualified ones. We have some good people out there. Caring ones with a big heart and now we are trying to also give them the support educationally so that we can really deliver the quality that we're wanting," said Sheryl Feinstein, the Dean of the College of Education at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
The president and CEO of the Nebraska Community Foundation says 85 percent of all brain development happens before a child goes to Kindergarten.
"Early childhood development is something that we've known we've needed to do for a long time. Only by everyone banding together in schools, businesses, hospitals and communities are we going to help early childhood development do well in lots and lots of places," said Jeff Yost with the Nebraska Community Foundation.
In a survey conducted by the Buffet Early Childhood Institute, 67 percent of Nebraskans said that the state should make early care and education a higher priority than it is today.