Policy Strategies & Innovations Link copied!

Innovation Name Innovation Type Innovation Subtype Features at a Glance Strategy Summary
Nebraska Education Innovation Fund Dedicated Funding Streams Lottery Revenue

44% of revenue from lottery ticket sales are used to support education, including early childhood education

Since 1993, Nebraska has allocated a portion of lottery ticket sales to the Education Innovation Fund, which is used to support grants from early childhood through adult education. As of July 2016, this funding allocation for education was just over 44% of the state’s lottery ticket sales.

Learn More: Nebraska Early Childhood Education State Report


Nebraska Lottery. (2023). Proceeds Transferred Since 1993.

Child Care WAGE$ Nebraska Workforce Bonuses and Supplemental Pay Professional Learning

$300 to $3,500 per educator per year, with an average supplement of $2,134

Child Care WAGE$ Nebraska provides supplemental pay to early childhood educators based on their education level and commitment to their early education program. WAGE$ is designed to retain and support the professional development of early education professionals; in turn, this creates a more stable workforce with the skills needed to support young children's healthy learning and development. Bonuses range from $300 to $3,500 per educator per year, with an average annual payment of $2,134. Amounts increase as educators obtain more formal education, and educators must remain in their early education program for at least six months to qualify for an award. In FY22, Child Care WAGE$ Nebraska provided supplements to 35 family child care educators; turnover among recipients was only 3%, much lower than the estimated 26-40% turnover rate among educators in licensed child care programs nationwide.

This program is part of the national Child Care WAGE$ project and is currently available in select counties across the state.

Learn More: Child Care WAGE$ Nebraska


Nebraska AEYC. (n.d.). Child Care WAGE$ Nebraska.

Nebraska AEYC. (n.d.). Child Care WAGE$ Nebraska: FY22 Results

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Demographics Link copied!

State population

1,967,923 Source U.S. Census, 2022

Rural %

27.0% Source U.S. Census, 2020

Urban %

73.0% Source U.S. Census, 2020

Number of children age 0-4

125,790 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Poverty levels – children 0-8 below 200% poverty

34% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Median family income among households with children

$91,000.00 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Unemployment rate

2.6% Source U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2022

Unemployment rate of parents

2% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Children under age 6 with all available parents in the labor force

72% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Children living in households with a high housing cost burden

22% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

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Child population by race and ethnicity Source KIDS COUNT, 2021

Race and Ethnicity

  • American Indian and Alaska Native (1%)
  • Asian (3%)
  • Black or African American (6%)
  • Hispanic or Latino (19%)
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (0.49%)
  • Two or More Races (4%)
  • White, not Hispanic or Latino (67%)
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Political Landscape Link copied!

Note: The Nebraska Legislature is unicameral, meaning that it’s not separated into two houses. The legislators are called senators. The Legislature is officially nonpartisan and doesn’t recognize the senators’ party affiliations. In practice, however, a large majority of senators are Republicans.

Source: Ballotpedia 2023

Early Childhood Education Programs Link copied!

Public pre-K program name

Nebraska Early Childhood Education Program Source: NIEER 2023

Universal or targeted

Targeted Pre-K Policy (3- and 4-Year-Olds) Source: NIEER 2023

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Percent of 3-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs Source: NIEER 2021


  • 3-year-old children enrolled in state-funded public pre-K (16%)
  • 3-year-old children enrolled in Head Start (3%)
  • Other/none (81%)
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Percent of 4-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs Source: NIEER 2021


  • 4-year-old children enrolled in state-funded public pre-K (33%)
  • 4-year-old children enrolled in Head Start (3%)
  • Other/none (64%)
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Workforce Link copied!

2017–2019 Median Hourly Wages Soruce CSCCE 2018, 2020


  • Child care workers
  • Preschool teachers
  • Preschool or child care center directors
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Funding Sources Link copied!

Federal and State Early Childhood Education Funding (in millions) Source First Five Years Fund, 2022

Funding source

  • Head Start and Early Head Start Funding ($64.6)
  • CCDBG & Mandatory Funds ($55.0)
  • CCDBG State Match ($6.5)
  • CCDBG COVID Relief Allocations – CARES, CRRSE, ARPA (CCDF & Stabilization) ($312.1)
  • State-Funded Pre-K ($28.7)
  • MIECHV ($1.3)
  • IDEA Part C ($4.3)
  • IDEA Part B, Sec 619 ($3.6)
  • TANF Early Learning and Care Expenditures ($18.4)
  • Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five ($11.6)
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Funding acronyms: CCDBG: Child Care and Development Block Grant; CARES Act: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act; CRRSE Act: Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations; ARPA: American Rescue Plan Act; CCDF: Child Care and Development Fund; MIECHV: Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program; IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; TANF: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

The COVID Funding Cliff

All federal COVID relief allocations, including funding authorized by the CARES, CRRSE, and ARPA bills, must be fully spent by September 2024. An analysis from the Century Foundation shows this loss of funds could cause more than 3 million children to lose access to child care nationwide – including more than 38,000 children in Nebraska.