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Responsive Equitable System for Preparing Early Childhood Teachers (RESPECT) across Nebraska
Principal Investigator: Julia Torquati
Funding Agency: Early Educator Investment Collaborative
Award Date: Jul 1, 2022
End Date: Jun 30, 2025
This project represents a strategic initiative by Nebraska to develop a Responsive Equitable System for Preparing Early Childhood Teachers (RESPECT) Across Nebraska. The initiative is led by a collaborative partnership involving five institutions of higher education: three in the University of Nebraska system, including the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska at Kearney; and two community colleges, including the Nebraska Indian Community College and Little Priest Tribal College, and Metropolitan Community College; and three other core partners: the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, the Nebraska Department of Education and the Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children.
With UNL serving as the lead entity, these core partners will collaborate with one another and with a broad network of other partners across the state to implement the RESPECT Across Nebraska initiative, building on the work of the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission, which is designed to develop a comprehensive plan designed to guide statewide efforts to ensure high-quality early care and education from birth through grade 3 for all Nebraska children and families.
RESPECT Across Nebraska is designed to help solve the overarching problem of Nebraska's shortage of diverse early childhood professionals: That Nebraska does not have enough qualified early childhood professionals to meet the demand for quality early care and education in the state, and that the current early childhood workforce does not reflect the diversity of the children and families they serve.
More specifically, the initiative seeks to address barriers to higher education, limited opportunities for ongoing professional development and a lack of clear educational pathways for career advancement — all of which limit Nebraska's ability to recruit and retain the diverse, skilled, informed workforce needed to provide high-quality early care and education.
Julia Torquati, professor of child, youth and family studies, is leading a collaborative effort to help prepare diverse early childhood professionals throughout Nebraska.