Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does early childhood care and education look like in Gothenburg right now?
Early childhood care providers offer care and education in various settings to allow parents to choose what’s best for their children. There are two licensed center-based childcare providers in town, along with three licensed in-home providers, five part-time preschool providers, and one after school program. The variety of providers often allows parents to find the care that fits best for their child and with their work schedule or other considerations. Most of these providers choose to be part of the Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition (GECLC), a volunteer group of early childhood providers, educators, and community members committed to addressing community-wide issues impacting early childhood in Gothenburg. The goal of the GECLC is to support each other and work together to ensure that every child in Gothenburg from birth to age five has the option for high quality early childhood care and learning opportunities that support healthy growth and development. Find a list of providers here.
2. What are the benefits to being a licensed daycare provider? Aren’t they just full-time babysitters?
Early childhood educators provide a crucial service to the families in our community, and the quality of the care they provide is important! State licensed providers work with specialists to assure they are providing the best care possible in the best environment for our little ones. Getting licensed is not difficult and it offers many benefits to the providers and the children in their care. It also helps providers caring for more than three children from different families be in compliance with the law. Benefits of being a licensed childcare provider include:
Support from DHHS and guidance from a licensing specialist
Free coaching and development programs and trainings
Access to grants which provide funds in a number of childcare-related areas
Reimbursement for money spent on food purchased for childcare
Being able to accept state aid children and receive payment directly from the state
Increased visibility by being listed on the DHHS list and being a member of the GECLC
The list of resources available to licensed childcare providers is long, and each item is designed to contribute to a quality childcare environment for every child. If you would like to learn more about what it means to be a licensed childcare provider, visit http://dhhs.ne.gov/licensure/Pages/Child-Care-Licensing.aspx.
3. Are all of the young children in Gothenburg in childcare?
No, not every child in town is in childcare, nor does every child need full-time care outside of the home. However, census data shows that there are 245 children in Gothenburg under the age of 6 years old with all available parents working and there are only 176 licensed childcare spots available. That leaves a gap of 69 children who are in need of care without a place to go. Often times these children are left with family members, friends, or neighbors who are able to meet the child’s physical needs, but often their early educational needs are not addressed. Many of the childcare providers in town have a waiting list of up to a year or more and are not able to take any more children at this time. It is the goal of the Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition (GECLC) that EVERY child in town has the opportunity to learn from birth until the start of kindergarten in order to be ready for school. Right now there are not enough preschool spots for every child, nor is every parent currently looking to send his or her child to preschool. The GECLC is working to address the capacity issue and to connect every child with the opportunity to experience preschool. If your child is not connected with a preschool, visit the Preschool Page to learn more.
4. Why is this a crisis right now?
Gothenburg is different from many other rural communities in a number of ways, one being that more than half of our population (52%) is under the age of 40. This means many young adults stay or move to town and start their families. In fact, nearly 25% of women in Gothenburg age 20-29 gave birth in the past year. We are fortunate to have such a young population base and workforce, because that isn’t the case in many other Nebraska communities. These young adults are the best resource we have for keeping our community strong and growing, but in order to attract and retain these workers and their families, we must be able to offer quality childcare. Currently, U.S. Census data shows there are 69 children in town under 6 with all available parents working who do not have a spot with a licensed childcare provider. Providers have waiting lists for infants, meaning these young mothers who have babies are not able to find childcare and may be forced to drop out of the workforce. It is the goal of the GECLC to work with providers and community leaders to find solutions to these capacity issues, providing quality childcare for all children who need it, while caring for the well-being of the entire family in order to create healthy families that live and thrive in Gothenburg, contributing to the future success of our community.
5. Is preschool important for my child? Don’t they just play all day in preschool anyway?
Preschool is important to every child for a number of reasons. Research shows that 90% of a child’s brain develops by the age of 3, and between the ages of 3 and 5 is when higher thinking skills are at their peak of development. Children who experience age-appropriate stimulation and learning opportunities from birth to age 5 are more highly developed than their peers who do not. Having your child in a quality preschool environment will expose him or her to age-appropriate activities that will increase brain development, as well as teaching important socialization skills. What looks like play to adults is the most important learning a child can do. Even parents who stay home with their children might consider part-time preschool to take advantage of the training and resources preschool teachers have that can benefit the development of their children. To learn more about preschool opportunities in the community, visit the Preschool Page.
6. My children are older and I don’t need childcare anymore. Why should I be interested in early childhood education and care in Gothenburg?
Caring for our littlest citizens and providing quality educational experiences from birth through age 5 is important to the entire community!
Employers, both those already in town and those looking to locate here, rely on their employees having dependable childcare to create a stable workforce. These employers create the economic foundation of our community, and the availability of reliable, quality childcare helps recruit and retain these businesses.
Studies show that the return on investment in quality early childhood care and education is $7-$13 for each $1 invested. That means communities who invest financially in providing quality early childhood care receive $7-$13 back per $1 in savings on special education services, social services, behavioral health services, and correctional services.
While the primary function of any daycare or childcare center is to care for and educate the children, quality programs also work with the parents to encourage the continuation of learning and the healthy behaviors the child is taking part in during the day. Parents are given support and provided resources that make a positive difference in their family and help strengthen the community as a whole.
The bottom line is that providing quality childcare in town is the best thing you can do to ensure the quality of life we enjoy in Gothenburg will continue for generations to come. After all, “success tomorrow depends on choices today.”
7. OK, I can see there’s a need, but how do you plan to address this issue?
A dedicated group of educators, childcare providers, and community stakeholders has been working quietly for the past decade to address the issues of early childhood care and education. The results were the creation of the Swede Preschool Academy to educate the most at-risk children of the community in the year prior to kindergarten, and the creation of the Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition (GECLC). The GECLC continues to work together by bringing different gifts, skills, and perspectives to the table and encouraging each to do what they do best in order to provide quality early childhood care and learning for the children of Gothenburg. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough providers in town to offer childcare to all of the infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children in town. The GECLC Board of Directors received a grant to consult with an architect to determine the cost and feasibility of building a childcare center that could provide care for families with a need for childcare.
8. Who is involved in this effort?
The Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition (GECLC) has been working on addressing childcare issues for the past decade. A group of interested and dedicated community members and educators identified the lack of childcare in town and began having conversations among themselves and into the community to find a solution. The GECLC formed a not-for-profit entity with a board of directors made up of educators and community members in 2018 and they hired a community coordinator in May of 2019. The City of Gothenburg, Gothenburg Public Schools, and Gothenburg Health have all signed an interlocal agreement, recognizing the immediate need to address the issue of early childhood capacity and pledging their support for the ongoing work of the coordinator. Other community leaders have been very vocal in their support of this effort, encouraging the GECLC in their efforts, including the Gothenburg Improvement Company and the Community Development Office. Leaders throughout the community recognize the benefit this work will be to the residents of Gothenburg, now and long into the future. To find out how you can be involved, contact the GECLC coordinator, Nichole Hetz, at GECLC.firstname.lastname@example.org or 308-529-8784.
9. What resources are there to help our community address this need?
The Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition (GECLC) has spent a lot of time and effort visiting with other communities who have addressed this issue successfully, as well as building relationships with state-wide organizations that are recognizing the positive steps being taken to provide and improve early childhood care and education in Gothenburg. Nebraska Children and Families Foundation supports children, young adults and families by building strong communities that support families so their children can grow up to be thriving, productive adults. The GECLC has received grant funding from this foundation through its Communities for Kids initiative for the past two years, as well as invaluable counsel from its staff. In fact, it was NCFF staff that encouraged Gothenburg to apply for a Community Well-Being grant to allow us to positively impact community-wide factors that affect children and families. Awarded in June of 2019, these funds will support the efforts of the community coordinator and the work of supporting every family in Gothenburg through early childhood education and care for every member of the household. Gothenburg is also a part of a six-city cohort from Nebraska taking part in the National League of Cities “Building an Early Childhood Nation” initiative, which is providing resources and participation in conversations on a national level about addressing early childhood care and education needs. Gothenburg is being recognized on a state and national level as “doing something right” for its youngest citizens and their families.
10. What benefits are there to me to support a new childcare center?
Building a new, quality childcare center in Gothenburg will be a benefit to everyone in the community in a number of ways.
The rate of return on investing in early childhood education and care is $7-$13 in savings on social and behavioral services for every $1 spent on quality childcare. The money you donate to help build the new center will have a positive impact on the children of Gothenburg and will reduce the number of dollars spent in the future on social, behavioral, and educational services for those children who don’t benefit from quality care during their early years.
Employers in town will have a more dependable workforce that can rely on consistent and available care for all children.
A new, self-supporting childcare center will provide employment opportunities for teachers, teacher aides, and part-time help, making it another significant employer in town and helping to create a solid financial foundation for the future of Gothenburg.
Young children need a safe, stable, and nurturing environment in which to grow and thrive. A new childcare center in town will partner with the school, the hospital, and the city to provide services to the families who use the center in order to support their very important job of raising the next generation of leaders for our community. By locating a family resource center within the childcare center’s walls, parents will be equipped to better raise healthy children who will, in turn, create a cycle of community well-being for generations to come.
These benefits to the community combine to paint a picture of a future Gothenburg built on the foundation of a strong economy with strong families for generations to come. Please consider joining us in “Growing Together Today for a Stronger Tomorrow.”
11. Shouldn’t we be helping families instead of just children?
Studies and common sense tell us that parents will always be the most important and formative factor in a child’s life. Parents have the most impact on a child’s emotional, social and cognitive development, regardless of the time the child spends in childcare. The Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition is committed to addressing community-wide challenges impacting early childhood in Gothenburg, and that goes beyond the time children spend in childcare. The GECLC, in conjunction with Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, is already working on ways to support parents in their role of raising healthy children. The new childcare center will incorporate a Healthy Families Center, which will coordinate with public and private service providers to give parents easy access to tools and resources for them and their children. While the list of service providers is not final yet, resources intended to be offered will address physical, emotional, social, and behavioral needs of families, giving just another example of how “all means all” in Gothenburg.
“More than 150 high-quality, scientific studies from all over the world demonstrate that starting early can have major short- and long-term effects on cognitive and social-emotional development. Early learning has been linked to progress in school, increased earnings, and reductions in anti-social behavior, welfare participation, and trouble with the law.”
– Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln