Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued Executive Order 20-18, which addresses important financial supports for child care providers and working families throughout the state by temporarily adjusting how the state manages child care subsidy reimbursements.
Nebraska’s child care providers regularly deliver services to families who are eligible for the state child care subsidy based on their household income. Typically, these providers are reimbursed for services delivered for each day a subsidy-eligible child attends their program. However, with the onset of the COVID-19 emergency in Nebraska, daily attendance by subsidy-eligible children has dropped precipitously. This has severely impacted the revenue stream of Nebraska’s child care programs, putting many of them at serious risk of permanent closure.
Nebraska Executive Order 20-18 temporarily changes these reimbursement protocols by allowing child care providers to receive subsidy reimbursements based on the enrollment of subsidy-eligible children in their programs, rather than actual attendance while that program is open for business. It also ensures that child care slots allocated to subsidy-eligible parents will still be waiting for them when they return to work.
The Governor’s directive follows on a joint letter submitted by First Five Nebraska, the Buffet Early Childhood Fund, the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, the Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative and the Buffett Early Childhood Institute late last month to state officials. In that letter, First Five Nebraska and its partners endorsed an enrollment-based reimbursement policy for providers who participate in the child care subsidy program, as well as a number of other proposals related to child care services for frontline personnel and waiving co-pays for families experiencing financial instability during the crisis.
“Today’s announcement is a commonsense approach to help support providers. Nebraska families need quality child care options and our state’s path to economic response and recovery directly relies on having a sustained child care system. Governor Ricketts’ directive will help ensure that more of our state’s child care professionals are better able to stay afloat financially during the COVID-19 crisis.”
Jason Prokop, Director, First Five Nebraska
Executive Order 20-18 also waives certain regulations to temporarily allow families currently benefitting from the child care subsidy the option of using a license-exempt provider to deliver in-home services. This measure was cited as a way to ensure coverage for families who have lost access to child care due to program closures and lack other options for care, The Executive Order represents this in-home solution as a potential way to open new opportunities for individuals interested in child care as a career.
As stated in First Five Nebraska’s response to Executive Order 10-08 (4.27.20), we recognize the need to reinforce Nebraska’s child care system in response to the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Nevertheless, we strongly encourage Nebraska policymakers, families and early childhood professionals to capitalize on our established early childhood professionals.
“It is important that we leverage our state’s existing pool of early childhood professionals wherever possible,” said Elizabeth Everett, Senior Policy Associate for First Five Nebraska. “We hope that these trained and experienced individuals will be our first, go-to source for child care, whether those services are delivered in out-of-home programs or within the family household. Today’s executive order offers additional flexibility for how we can use existing child care professionals or attract new talent to the profession.”