Rooted In Purpose

As I reflect on 2021, it would be an understatement to say NECC experienced another interesting (but exciting) year amidst a pandemic. While previous years have largely focused on expansion, 2021 emphasized the importance of establishing deep roots in our programs and services, as an organization, and within the communities we serve.

The pandemic continued to shine a light on the need for stable, consistent investment into quality early care and education. While federal grants and emergency funding opportunities created a safety net for many child care businesses to temporarily stay afloat, it has become increasingly clear that, without significant systemic change, these businesses will again be at risk for closure once funding runs out.

When the supply of child care businesses suffers, so do the children and communities who rely on them to thrive. Committed to navigating this necessary systemic change for the child care industry in Nebraska, NECC found new opportunities to positively impact those we serve through partnerships, new programs, and strategic organizational growth.
  • To combat food insecurity in Douglas County, a longstanding issue made more evident throughout the pandemic, NECC was awarded a $25,000 grant from No Kid Hungry to serve 55 families with weekly grocery delivery.
  • We published a first-of-its-kind report in partnership with First Children’s Finance highlighting the challenges to accessing capital for child care businesses in the state of Nebraska.
  • We partnered with Pie for Providers, a technology platform that focuses on tracking and managing child care subsidy, helping providers claim more of the subsidy dollars they’ve earned.
  • We established an Early Learning Scholarship that helps bridge the gap between the cost of providing quality child care and what families can afford to pay. We currently partner with 31 child care business owners and serve 60 qualified families in Douglas County.
  • NECC recruited its first cohort of Parent Ambassadors in Nebraska, a year-long leadership and advocacy program to elevate the voices of parents of young children and child care providers in conversations about early learning.  
While the pandemic forced much of the world to come to a halt, the work we’re doing at NECC shows no signs of slowing down. But the window of opportunity to create lasting change for the child care industry is closing fast, and it’s up to leaders and changemakers to lead the charge. Rooted in our mission, our communities, and guided by the voices most impacted by the work we do, NECC is well-positioned to continue forging new paths toward a brighter future.

Buffett Early Childhood Fund
Holland Foundation
Medica Foundation
​​​​​​​Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
Omaha Community Foundation
William and Ruth Scott Family Foundation

Budget & Population Served

In partnership with Omaha Early Learning Centers, we take care to maximize Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership funding to serve the diverse students and families who benefit most from our programming and services.

​​​​​​​According to NECC’s 2022 Community Assessment, 3,819 children ages 0-3 in Douglas County are income-eligible for Early Head Start. NECC is able to serve 6.8% of these children.
FEDERAL REVIEW – In July 2021, NECC participated in an EHS-CCP program performance review. NECC achieved satisfactory progress in all areas and no concerns were identified during the review.
Early Head Start (Operating)$5,576,351$5,242,107
Early Head Start T&TA$122,653$122,653
Non-Federal Share$1,559,242$1,522,094
TOTAL REVENUES$7,258,246$6,886,854
Personnel & Fringe Benefits$2,158,994$2,165,681
TOTAL EXPENSES$7,258,246$6,886,854

Population Served

Total Children Served
Total Families Served
Verified for Special Education
Free/Reduced Lunch
Dual Language Learners

Health & Wellbeing

Strengthening child development requires a holistic approach, one that supports the learning environment and health and wellbeing of each child. Through our Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership, each family has access to a Health Specialist who shares resources and referrals for health care needs including dental, hearing, vision, and more.
*Data impacted by COVID-19 classroom closures
With Health Insurance
With a Medical Home
With a Dental Home
Up to Date on Medical Services*
Up to Date With Immunizations or Exempt
Up to Date on Dental Services*

School Readiness

NECC uses the Developmental Domain framework to identify and evaluate how children meet or exceed expectations in key areas: Social-Emotional, Physical, Language, Cognitive, Literacy, and Math. Our partner has set a benchmark of 85% or more children meeting or exceeding each domain.
NOTE: Data is representative of our last checkpoint (February 2022).  

Percentage of Children Meeting or Exceeding Each Developmental Domain:   


Family Engagement

As part of the comprehensive services included in our Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership, each eligible child is paired with a Family Engagement Specialist who provides support for family wellbeing and self-sufficiency. Family Engagement Specialists meet monthly with families to complete needs assessments, set and measure goals, and provide parent education opportunities and community resource referrals.
Positive Parent/Child Interaction Goals Created
Made Progress Toward Goals
Received Parent Education

Reducing Food Insecurity

Food insecurity has been a long-standing issue for the children and families we serve, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made that more evident. As part of our multi-faceted approach to combat food insecurity among young children and families in our community, NECC was selected as one of more than 120 early child care organizations to receive a $25,000 grant from No Kid Hungry. In partnership with Hy-Vee, NECC coordinated weekly grocery purchasing and delivery to 55 food-insecure families over a 23-week span. Families also attended classes where they learned how to adequately meal plan and write shopping lists to encourage healthy habits.

This is today's breakfast. Angel loves eating chilaquiles with eggs and a banana smoothie.

We are very grateful of [NECC] and Hy-Vee for helping us get this awesome and blessed opportunity every week.

​​​​​​​My family and I love cooking healthy food every day. Thank you.

Nayeli Lara Cruz
table of contents
The Teen and Young Parent Program (TYPP) is a collaboration of four of the largest community service agencies in Douglas and Sarpy Counties. The collaboration includes the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA), Child Saving Institute (CSI), Nebraska Children’s Home Society (NCHS), and Heartland Family Service (HFS). The TYPP is a two-generation approach that strives to ensure that every family with limited resources receives support to promote healthy lifestyles and to increase educational attainment for young parents and their children. TYPP was recently granted expansion funding to deliver care coordination, intensive home visiting, and parent education to teens and young parents in eight counties in Nebraska. In 2022, NECC will add twenty more counties to its service region.

Program Participation:

Total Participants Served293
Children Served371
Prenatal Participants Served51
Lunch & Learn Participants80
Medical Home98%
Graduated High School58%
Initiated Breastfeeding89%
Up To Date Immunization93%
NECC serves as the service backbone and central point of intake for community collaboration in Douglas County referred to as the Community Response Program (CRP). CRP provides emergency financial assistance to families with children, promotes child wellbeing, and provides a prevention system to create safe, quality environments for children and families.
Families Served
Children Served

Flex Funds Usage By Category

Education / Child Care7%
Mental Health2%
table of contents
NECC supports early educators through our Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership and providers in community-based child care settings with the opportunity to earn their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. The CDA is the foundational credential in early education and courses are offered in both English and Spanish. NECC also supports early educators who participate in T.E.A.C.H., a scholarship that helps them earn a degree in early childhood education.
In January 2021, NECC was recognized by the Council of Professional Development as a Gold Standard Organization for offering quality CDA® coursework and preparation to CDA training students.

“I know the value of high-quality training as a CDA holder and teacher at my core. Great training leads to great teachers. Organizations that have earned the Gold Standard award help students go for the gold in the early childhood field.”

Dr. Calvin E. Moore, Jr., CEO at the Council for Professional Recognition

​​​​​​​Community CDA Participants

Total Enrolled
Family Child Care Enrolled

T.E.A.C.H. Scholars supported through EHS-CCP

Supported Scholars
Graduated Scholars

​​​​​​​EHS-CCP CDA

Total Enrolled

​​​​​​​Professional Development

Total Training Certificates Issued

CDA Spotlights

table of contents
From license attainment, networking and mentorship, and technology partnerships that support business growth, providers have access to ample resources through NECC.

Business Training Series

Based on a model established by All Our Kin, this training series focuses on uplifting and empowering family child care providers. The training is offered in both English and Spanish language, and providers can earn $15/hour and 30 hours of approved training.
2021 Graduates
All-Time Graduates
2021 Spanish-First Graduates
Spanish-First All Time Graduates

Licensing Toolkit

Through the Licensing Toolkit, NECC provides materials, guidance, and support to help providers fulfill state licensing requirements, meet health and safety standards, and become part of a professional network for family child care business owners.
Toolkit Participants
Spanish Language Toolkit Participants
Achieved Operational Licensure

Elevated Network

Our highest level of program engagement offers providers mentoring, additional funding opportunities, and Wonderschool, a child care management platform, at no cost.

“I am so thankful for the support I have received from NECC and Wonderschool over the last few years. I wish I had access to their platforms 18 years ago when I opened my business.”

– Micole Freudenburg
Total Elevated Network Providers
Spanish-Speaking Elevated Network Providers

Provider Engagement


Providers in Network


Providers in More Than One Program

table of contents

Project Breakthrough

In 2021, NECC launched Project Breakthrough in partnership with Wonderschool and Shine Early Learning (SEL), a nonprofit that helps early childhood programs nationwide put into place proven practices that deliver positive results — for children, families, and communities.
Project Breakthrough sought to bring NECC’s Family Child Care-focused service model to child care centers, including piloting additional functionality in the Wonderschool platform built for child care centers. Leveraging NECC’s local expertise and SEL’s deep experience in center-based settings, Project Breakthrough offered child care providers both business and classroom mentoring and evaluation.
In addition to the goal of piloting key programs in a center-based setting, Shine and NECC mentors worked with child care providers to set goals and outcomes of improved key business metrics, reduced professional isolation, and improving overall quality.

“Being a part of [Project Breakthrough], working with Kimberly, Erin, and Alice has encouraged me to want to improve the quality of our care, giving me meaningful steps in that direction while working with professionals who understand the value of our work.  The program has also touched the hearts of some of our parent by providing the Early Learning Scholarship program that came when it was needed.  To help my center make a difference, they have all provided support and resources.”

Deb Nared, Project Breakthrough Participant  
In 2021, NECC launched a partnership with Pie for Providers (P4P) to support providers in the Family Child Care Network that accept child care subsidy. P4P is a nonprofit that uses technology to help child care providers earn more money and help low-income families access early care and education. 

P4P’s technology addresses some of providers’ biggest pain points, reducing time spent on subsidy paperwork, and helping them maximize their income. Through the platform, providers can see real-time revenue projections based on attendance and local rules and can get automated alerts when childrens’ attendance is low, which puts them at risk for losing subsidy funding. Knowing their subsidy revenue is consistent and accurate ahead of time through the P4P platform gives providers the confidence to open more spots to eligible families.  
Provider signups grew by 6x over 2021
67% of providers reported that they have recommended P4P to another provider
100% of providers say it is true or mostly true that P4P:
  • ​​​​​​​Makes monthly subsidy billing less stressful
  • Reduces the time spent managing subsidy
  • Makes them more open to accepting new subsidy families
The P4P platform managed approximately $465,696* in government funding in 2021
*In 2021, child care providers managed cases for 77 children using Pie for Providers, which translates to $465,696 annually in government funding. 
This number is based on a national, annualized average of subsidy funding per child, and refers to total dollars managed on our new platform, not new dollars claimed.

Challenges in Accessing Capital for Nebraska Child Care Businesses

Child care businesses often struggle to support themselves financially through traditional funding sources. In partnership with First Children’s Finance (FCF), NECC published a report on the access to capital for child care businesses in Nebraska.
The report confirmed several assumptions, such as family child care owners withdrawing their 401ks, family savings, or maxing out credit cards to fund their business startup. It also provided an in-depth perspective on the shared need for knowledge and relationship building among family child care, center-based child care, and traditional financial institutions.
Armed with these findings and recommendations provided by FCF, NECC will use this report to execute a strategy focused on their goal of ensuring equitable access to capital for child care businesses, including reducing the number of businesses that close due to financial crisis. NECC’s plan will include the development of community resources in partnership with local lenders to assist in bridging the gap between these vital small businesses and the critical funding that impacts community child care.
Learn More

Early Learning Scholarship

The COVID-19 pandemic has called for a shift in many areas, but particularly as it relates to accessible, affordable, high-quality child care. While child care subsidy is an option for some, many high-quality programs do not accept subsidy because it doesn’t pay the market rate and it comes with complex reporting requirements.

If a family is fortunate enough to identify a high-quality program that does accept subsidy, they are still left with the parent co-payment, which many low-income parents struggle to pay. Moderate-income families face this challenge in two ways, as they often don’t qualify for government assistance and cannot afford to pay the market rate.

​​​​​​​To combat these challenges, NECC was chosen to receive the Early Learning Scholarship through the Preschool Development Grant Communities for Kids Plus initiative (PDG-C4K+). This first-of-its-kind scholarship in Douglas County helps close the gap between what families can afford to pay and what high-quality early care and education costs.
Children Served
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Families Served
Providers / Centers Served
“Parents have shared with me that having that financial burden lifted off their shoulders has given them a chance to catch up with bills, education expenses, health/medical and utilities bills and now they can focus more on their children and their wellbeing.”

“Without this financial assistance we face big challenges. We can't hire or retain highly qualified teachers who are passionate and dedicated to families and children for our programs. I'm glad there are organizations like NECC that provide Early Learning Scholarships and are able to give back to the underserved communities, as the one I live in.”
​​​​​​​-Ana Yumul, Bella’s Day Care
Parent and provider voices are critical to making impactful change in early childhood education policy. The Parent Ambassador Program aims to develop parent leaders and support them in advocating for their children, themselves, and their communities. 

This program is the first of its kind to launch in Nebraska and has received substantial support from local and national partners of NECC. Several states have developed similar ambassador programs to train parents on the legislative process, how to contact lawmakers, grassroots organizing, and more.  In November 2021, twenty applicants representing a diverse demographic of Nebraskans were selected to participate in the inaugural cohort that launched in January 2022.  

During the year-long program, Parent Ambassadors will receive mentorship and support while learning how to engage in local, state, and federal policy discussions. Parent Ambassadors participate in bi-weekly program activities that help them develop leadership and public speaking skills, advocacy training, tactics to improve family and community relationships, and much more.
“Sometimes the help can be out there, but parents aren’t clear how to find, search, and request the help that’s needed. Awareness is so important for the community of Omaha. I want to be able to not only share, but gain useful techniques to explore within my community.”

Robin Wilkins, 2022 Parent Ambassador
“I hope to learn how to use my voice in a more impactful way. I want to learn more about educational funding through legislature. I want to find a way to bridge the gap between affordable and equitable early childhood education. Another thing I hope to accomplish is expanding my knowledge on systemic issues within the education system and how to further advocate for changes to be made.”

Jess Parker, 2022 Parent Ambassador
table of contents

Innovation Conversations

As we geared up for strategic planning and began to think more deeply about what innovation – an integral part of our core values – looks like at the Collaborative, NECC initiated, “Innovation Exercises” that included every member of the team.

The Innovation Exercises pushed teams to look beyond the large new projects that are commonplace at NECC, and to instead examine the tasks we complete each and every day.  A complete examination – reflecting on what we should Stop, Start, and Consider – created room for the organization to take on new, more impactful projects rather than piling on additional work and sticking with the status quo.

​​​​​​​The workgroups charted the course for strategic planning and helped to define NECC’s commitment to innovation, both in theory and in practice.   

A Focus on Culture

In June, we welcomed staff back to the office after more than a year. We implemented an alternating hybrid schedule to accommodate for social distancing until late September, when all employees were in the office Monday-Thursday.

​​​​​​​During this time, we also defined, refined, and introduced NECC’s core values to staff. Our culture is anchored through a shared purpose for the work we do, and our core values help to establish that foundation.

Mission First · Raise the Bar · Bring It · Own It · Pull Up A Chair

NECC was fortunate to experience growth throughout the pandemic, but once we convened back in the office, we soon realized there were several new faces who had next to no interaction outside of their own departments. Additionally, tenured staff had not spent much time in our new office building prior to the pandemic, so the environment felt new in more ways than one.

​​​​​​​Part of refamiliarizing staff with each other and with the office was by establishing a committee of employees now known as our “Culture Crew.” The Culture Crew’s mission is to make working at NECC fun, to bring people together, and to build personal connections among team members. In their first few months of existence, they’ve coordinated staff volunteer opportunities, happy hours, and even an all-day trip to Vala’s Pumpkin Patch with great response from the rest of the NECC team.

Brand Refresh

As we work to strengthen both the recognizability and the consistency of our brand, NECC began an entire brand refresh in January 2021. The refresh began with inspiration from the Licensing Toolkit program and wrapped after an all-staff workshop that allowed every team member the opportunity to drive the look and feel of our new brand.
Out of the workshops, we established three goals:
1. Create thorough look and feel throughout the whole organization and develop a solid communications plan for the next 18 months.
2. Infuse best practices of marketing to the larger team and help them understand the importance of brand consistency.
3. Create clarity around all our audiences so that the different messages in the communication plans are targeted.​​​​​​​
Elevating our brand is part of our organizational commitment to Raising the Bar. Thanks in no small part to our Marketing & Communications team, NECC has taken our products to the next level in their look and feel. 

Strategic Plan

In 2021, NECC closed out its first strategic plan. As the 2018-2021 strategic plan came to a close, NECC partnered with the Public Equity Group to support the development of the Collaborative’s second strategic plan. The strategic planning process was informed by staff members, funders, and other key stakeholders. NECC is at a critical juncture as we launch our second strategic plan and transition out of shared services work with Educare Omaha and embark on some new adventures to help us grow in different directions. 

These goals will be the focus of our growth and where we spend significant energy in the coming years. On our website you will find additional details around each of these goals. But, to ensure we achieve measurable progress around each of these goals each year, we are beginning the process of operationalizing these goals.
Expanding our reach and impact in the early childhood community to drive access and sustainability;

Ensuring a deep commitment to DEI internally and externally; and
Strengthening our organizational capacity and sustainability.
Each year the Collaborative will engage staff to operationalize the strategic plan.

​​​​​​​Leveraging existing capacity born out of the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership, NECC expanded its child care enrollment supports statewide with its Coordinated Enrollment program that supports families in their search for a safe, quality child care setting for their child.

Families receive personalized services by working with NECC’s Coordinated Enrollment Specialists, who help find openings at quality child care centers and identify the best payment options. The Coordinated Enrollment Specialists also connects families with community resources for parenting support, basic needs, and educational assistance.
table of contents
Made with Grapedrop