Nebraska’s Early Learning Connection (ELC) is an integrated system of early childhood professional development.
The ELC consists of a statewide hub at the Early Childhood Training Center and seven regional Early Learning Connection partnerships, along with other state and regional partners. It is designed as a system that supports the career and professional development of all who provide programs and services for young children birth through age eight that includes:
- Professional development for early childhood and school-age
- Supports for implementation utilizing early childhood coaches
- Program quality assessments – Environment Rating Scale (ERS) assessments for early learning
- Strategic planning with higher education (2-yr and 4-yr.) and other adult learning organizations
- Community engagement and outreach.
Elements of the ELC professional development system include:
- Seven regional ELC partnerships to coordinate access to comprehensive professional development opportunities;
- A core body of knowledge identified in the Early Childhood Core Competencies and the School-Age and Youth Development Core Competencies;
- Early Learning Guidelines (Birth to Three, Three to Five, and Kindergarten) that are aligned to the K-12 school standards;
- Specialized training projects and cadres of trainers;
- Early Learning Connection Registry for practitioners, including trainers, and programs (under development);
- Outreach and access strategies including the web-based statewide training calendar, telephone technical assistance and consultation, and assistance in selection of child care;
- Intentional strategies to create a quality improvement system in which all early childhood programs and practitioners are supported and encouraged to improve child outcomes, including through Results Matter;
- Connections with an array of professional and career development entities that have an adult education and learning mission, including the Community Learning Centers Network, the Child and Adult Care Food Program sponsors, Head Start training and technical assistance staff, University Extension, and others.
The ELC is supported with resources from the federal Child Care and Development Fund, IDEA Part C, IDEA Part B-619 and other public and private funding.