Attendance at this year’s conference is triple what it was when it began two years ago and community leaders will discuss the economic impact of quality early childhood education and how the pandemic has widened what was already a significant gap in availability of quality care.
A recent report by First Five Nebraska and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bureau of Business Research showed that gaps in child care availability cost Nebraska families up to $489 million a year in household income from missed work, reduced hours and in some cases parents forgoing higher-paying positions or quitting their jobs.
The study also concluded that the lack of child care options for families reduced state tax revenues by $21 million a year.
Child care workers are underpaid, exploited and extremely important, Meisels said.
“I think what we are trying to do is to say that we are not going in the right direction,” he said. “At the very best, pre-COVID, we were fairly static.”