Major CEHS initiative invests in early childhood

Major CEHS initiative invests in early childhood

23 Sep 2015     By Brad Stauffer

Responding to changing demographics and a growing population of young at-risk children, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln today announced a strategic initiative to strengthen support for early childhood development in Nebraska.

Chancellor Harvey Perlman, Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences Marjorie Kostelnik, Lt. Gov. Mike Foley and others shared the plans at the Van Brunt Visitors Center.

UNL and CEHS have a long history of teaching, research and community engagement focusing on children birth to 8. Plans announced today are in partnership with colleagues across the NU system, the Buffet Early Childhood Institute and in collaboration with Nebraska schools and social service agencies.

Media Coverage
Lincoln Journal Star
Lincoln Journal Star editorial
Stepping Up announcement webpage
Early Childhood in CEHS booklet

The initiative includes:

  • Creating the Nebraska Early Childhood Research Academy, or NECRA, to increase campus research and expand collaborations focused on chronic challenges facing young children and families.
  • Adding nine new positions to complement the more than 65 faculty members who address early childhood issues.
  • Hiring additional Nebraska Extension educators to interact more fully with the early childhood community and to bring early childhood expertise to all corners of the state.
  • Working in Brazil, China, Turkey and elsewhere on common issues of early childhood development and education to enhance children’s quality of life in Nebraska and across the globe.

 NECRA’s research will help policymakers, early childhood professionals, researchers, educators and others improve the trajectory of all young Nebraskans, especially those who face challenges in achieving school and life success. NECRA brings together people from several disciplines, including from several UNL departments and across the NU system, to address chronic challenges that affect many young children. Additional information is available at

“We increasingly understand the importance of educating children from their birth forward so that society may benefit from their inherent talents and creativity,” Perlman said. “The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has for many years invested in improving early childhood education. This academy will increase the focus and visibility of our efforts.”        

Nine new faculty in CEHS and additional faculty in Nebraska Extension will expand UNL’s capacity to find and apply solutions to challenges facing young children.

“These hires will address gaps in our current expertise in key areas: infant-toddler mental health, early learning processes, the academic needs of young children with disabilities, professionalization of the early childhood workforce, P-12 school administration and children’s health and wellness,” Kostelnik said. “They will be located on campus and throughout Nebraska. Our overall aim is to collaborate across the university system, with community partners statewide, and with the Buffett Early Childhood Institute to

make life better for Nebraska’s children and families and to strengthen our state’s reputation for the good life.”
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