Who Sixpence Serves
Sixpence represents a statewide commitment to improving the school readiness and life outcomes of infants and toddlers, especially those most vulnerable to risk factors affecting early neural development and skill formation. It funds high-quality early care and learning programs designed to address the specific needs of local children and families, whether they live in the major metropolitan centers of eastern Nebraska, or the rural communities of the state's Panhandle.
Eligibility for Sixpence-Funded Services
While every child in Nebraska deserves the opportunity to succeed in school and beyond, Sixpence focuses its investments on infants and toddlers subject to particular risk factors known to affect kindergarten readiness and academic achievement. Unsurprisingly, most risk factors affecting the early learning and development represent challenges experienced at the family level that can undermine parents' effectiveness as educators, caregivers and providers.
To qualify for participation in a Sixpence-funded program, children and families must be subject to at least one of five factors identified in statute by the Nebraska Department of Education. In order of prevalence during the 2016-17 evaluation year, they are:
- Low Household Income [92% of participants] as defined by eligibility for participation in the federal free and reduced cost lunch program.
- Parents with Limited Educational Attainment [41% of participants] as defined by the lack of a high school degree or equivalent
- Non-English Speaking Households [38% of participants]
- Parents Under 20 Years Old [30% of participants]
- Prematurity or Low Birth Weight [12% of participants] as verified by a physician
The Spectrum of Developmental Risks
Sixpence-funded programs serve children who face an array of developmental risks far beyond those that determine eligibility for services. These liabilities include socially isolated families, food insecurity, unstable households and parents with limited understanding of children's developmental needs.
Even a single risk factor can affect children's school preparedness and prospects for long-term success. Multiple, concurrent risk factors can lead to rapidly compounding threats to healthy brain architecture, skill formation, social competency and lifelong emotional and physiological health.
No single intervention can address all of the circumstances and hazards known to undermine the optimal development of infants and toddlers. But Sixpence shows how strengthening the skills and supports of parents and early care and education professionals can change children's life trajectories and trigger long-term benefits felt at the individual and societal levels.