Some Nebraska caregivers and teachers face low wages, no insurance and not enough training

Some Nebraska caregivers and teachers face low wages, no insurance and not enough training. (NTV News)

KEARNEY, Neb. — The life of an early childhood care provider in Nebraska is not always easy according to a study done by the Buffett Early Childhood Institute.

The Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Survey shares some of the challenges teachers and caregivers face.

The survey points out how things like stress, lack of insurance, training and even not making enough money is hitting these caregivers hard, which is also putting a strain on the way kids are learning.

Lori Ziems, who cares for children in her home, is one person who is facing these challenges.

"You have to focus on their needs, not mine," said Ziems.

She said her job is not always easy.

"Being an in-home provider, I don't have an employer so health insurance is an issue. My husband is also self-employed," Ziems said.

Money is an issue as well for some providers.

The survey states that 80 percent of home-based providers work more than 40 hours a week, and earn half as much as pre-K and K-3 teachers.

"Am I going to get paid today? Is this family going to pay me? Do they understand that this is how I make my living?" Ziems said.

Other findings could impact your child.

The survey shows educators in urban areas were more educated than their rural counterparts.

"We as a state have to work hard on the opportunities were giving to kids. We have to look for quality so that means we all have to take a role in it," said Carol Renner who is a Buffett Early Childhood Institute Workforce board member.

The study also found out not all child care providers feel prepared to work with kids when they begin their careers.

Home-based providers felt the least prepared of all groups. Only 51 percent felt prepared to teach school age children.

Sixty-two percent of center-based teachers, working with infants and toddlers felt prepared to work with this age group at the start of their careers.

Seventy-three percent of Pre-K and 72 percent of K-3 teachers felt the most prepared to teach their age groups as well.

"It's the most critical time for brain development, for language development, for kids learning how to self-regulate," Renner said. "If they don't have a quality experience, it's not going to happen automatically by the time they get to kindergarten."

The Buffet survey also found that there is a need for more diversity among the all early childhood teaching staff, and more steady training so teachers will feel prepared when teaching their students.

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