The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Marjorie Kostelnik, Beth Doll and Linda Boeckner are among 39 leaders tapped for a newly formed group to expand and strengthen the state’s early childhood workforce.
Kostelnik, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences at Nebraska, will co-chair the committee, which is known as the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission. Members represent government, higher education, public schools, child care, philanthropy, health care and business.
The commission was assembled by the Buffett Early Childhood Institute to develop a statewide plan to ensure a skilled, informed and diverse workforce for the state’s children. It is believed to be among the most comprehensive efforts in the nation regarding the early childhood education workforce.
Doll is associate dean for academic affairs at Nebraska and is a professor of educational psychology. Boeckner is a program leader with Nebraska Extension.
“We are committed to serving Nebraska, and what we hear from business and community leaders is that early childhood is an urgent need,” Kostelnik said. “Now is the time to bring people together to take action and make a difference for children, families and early childhood professionals.”
The, commission, co-chaired by Buffett Institute Executive Director Samuel J. Meisels, will hold its first official working session Feb. 15 in Lincoln. It will address three urgent issues: caregiver and teacher shortages, training and education for early childhood professionals, and how to reduce instability in the workforce through better compensation.
“Early childhood professionals play an enormously important role in helping children achieve their potential and grow into healthy, confident, productive adults,” Meisels said. “There are not nearly enough qualified adults to serve all young children, especially children placed at risk because of poverty, parental unemployment or other challenges.”
The commission will meet quarterly through 2019; members will work across the state to develop plans to address the systems governing early childhood, which include higher education, practitioner needs and state policy.