University of Nebraska officials have unveiled a new emphasis on early childhood education.
College of Education Dean Marjorie Kostelnik with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln announced creation of the Nebraska Early Childhood Research Academy during a news conference on the Lincoln campus.
“Our overall aim is to collaborate across the university system with community partners statewide and with the Buffet Early Childhood Institute to make life better for Nebraska’s children and families and to strengthen our state’s reputation for the good life,” Kostelnik stated during the news conference at the Van Brunt Visitors Center in Lincoln.
In addition to create of the academy, the university will add nine new positions to the 65 devoted to childhood issues, hire 15 Nebraska Extension educators to work in early childhood development throughout the state, and work with Brazil, China, and Turkey on childhood development.
Associate Dean Kathleen Lodl with Nebraska Extension said childhood development is an important issue.
“Not only are we stepping up around early childhood, but we’re also making sure that we step out across the state,” according to Lodl. “And that footprint that goes statewide is important to our work. It’s truly what makes us, as a Land Grant university, unique and important to meet the needs of Nebraska.”
The initiative seeks to increase instruction for children birth to age eight, but also to increase research in early childhood education and development. It will encompass infant-toddler mental health, early learning processes, the academic needs of children with disabilities, as well as improving the professionalism of early childhood teachers.
Lodl says the emphasis on the Lincoln campus will be felt statewide.
“Results of this work will improve the status of children in Nebraska statewide, especially those in the highest of need,” Lodl said. “Collectively, we as a campus as a state can truly make a difference.”