Even though parents carry the distinct responsibility of giving their infants and toddlers the best possible start in life, the long-term outcomes of our state's youngest, most vulnerable children are a matter of common concern to all Nebraskans. Educators, business leaders, healthcare providers, law enforcement officials, policymakers and many others recognize that the most effective way to support parents in this critical responsibility is through public-private collaborations at the state and local levels. These partnerships bring together funding, resources and expertise to deliver sustainable, effective early care and learning programs serving families of children birth to age 3 most at risk of arriving at kindergarten unprepared to learn and thrive.
State- and Community-Level Collaboration
Sixpence was established in 2006 when major state agencies and private philanthropy came together to create an endowment providing sustainable funding for high-quality early learning opportunities targeting Nebraska's youngest children at risk. A governor-appointed Board of Trustees representing public and private sector interests awards the endowment's investment earnings to community-based early learning partnerships through a competitive grant process. The grant process is managed by Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, which also provides specialized guidance to promote program quality. Encouraged by Sixpence's success in improving children's school readiness, the State Legislature has twice approved additional investments of public funds to extend its reach to more of Nebraska's youngest children statewide.
No single early learning program or service model can address the unique challenges facing individual families with infants and toddlers at risk statewide. This is why Sixpence funds locally-designed and managed partnerships that are highly responsive to the early learning needs of families where they live. Each Sixpence-funded partnership consists of the community school district working closely with various organizations, agencies and service providers who match their grant award through local funds and resources.
Types of Sixpence Grants
While each Sixpence-funded partnership is unique and specifically designed to meet local needs, all are supported through three general grant models:.
- Family Engagement/Home-Based Services: These programs match families with skilled professionals trained to model and coach parents in high-quality, developmentally positive interactions with their youngest children. Family engagement professionals are trained in early education practice, are skilled in assessing and addressing specific developmental challenges in young children, and help parents grow as effective, resilient caregivers and teachers.
- Center-Based Early Care and Education Services: Sixpence funds center-based programs operating in close partnership with local school systems. These centers follow proven curricula, emphasize parent involvement, maintain appropriate adult-to-child ratios and reflect professional requirements for staff similar to those endorsed by the Nebraska Department of Education. Center-based programs funded through Sixpence offer part- and full-day care throughout the academic year and participate in Step Up to Quality, Nebraska's child care quality and rating system.
- School-Child Care Partnerships: In 2015, Sixpence made it possible for schools to enter into early learning partnerships with a wider range of independent child care providers in their communities. The new partnerships enable more center- and home-based child care providers to benefit from Sixpence funding and resources, connects these providers to program improvement supports through Step Up to Quality, and increases the availability of developmentally positive, year-round child care opportunities for Nebraska families.