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In an effort to portray the importance of early childhood education and the community ramifications, or the lack thereof, the Keith County Foundation Fund is hosting a showing of the movie, “No Small Matters,” at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28 at the Prairie Theatre in Ogallala. After the 75-minute film, Buffett Early Childhood Institute (BECI) representatives will talk briefly about statewide efforts being made to address the issues of early childhood education and quality childcare, and also will answer audience questions.


sUNDAY, jANUARY 28, 2024
  1:30 PM


Colorful Toys

No Small Matter is the first feature documentary to explore an overlooked, underestimated, and powerful force for change in America today: early childhood education. Through poignant stories and surprising humor, the film lays out the overwhelming evidence of the importance of the first five years of children’s lives and reveals how failure to act on that evidence has resulted in an everyday crisis for American families, and a slow-motion catastrophe for the country. “We’re excited to bring this movie to Keith County and hope everyone takes advantage of the free showing,” Keith County Foundation Fund Advisory Committee President Angie Kolste said.

Early childhood and quality childcare is one of three focus areas deemed of significant importance by the foundation as determined during visioning sessions in 2019. “We understand the importance of early childhood education and how the lack of it affects not only the youngest of children but all aspects of our communities,” Kolste said.

During the last 20 years, a revolution in understanding of early childhood has led to one, inescapable conclusion: the experiences had in the first five years of life shape children’s brains and bodies in profound and lasting ways. Research conducted by neuroscientists at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle reveals that it’s not flashcards or fancy apps that help build a healthy brain—it’s every day, back-and-forth interactions with loving, supportive adults. While those interactions are what children need to thrive, social, economic, and demographic changes have made it harder for parents to respond. In 1950, 12 percent of moms with children under age five were in the workplace; today, it’s 65 percent. Statistics provided by the Buffett Early Childhood Institute report that in Nebraska, more than 72 percent of children under age 6 live in homes where all adults work.


Adding to the challenge is stagnated wages, unpredictable work schedules, less support from extended family, and today, in 28 states, the cost of infant childcare is more than tuition at a public college. According to the BECI, 91 percent of counties in Nebraska do not have enough available licensed childcare slots to meet the current demand, and 11 counties in Nebraska have no licensed childcare facilities. Keith County Communities for Kids Coordinator Laura Kemp said Keith County currently has 12 licensed childcare providers, 11 in Ogallala and one in Paxton. “But that is not nearly enough,” Kemp said. “As Keith County continues to grow and the number of working parents increase, the need for early childhood educational opportunities becomes even more apparent. Our childcare providers are the ones who help shape our youngest citizens. We have to invest in and support our current and future childcare providers in any way possible.”

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