SIDNEY - The Sidney Community Donor-Advised Fund, an affiliated fund of Nebraska Community Foundation, has made five grants totaling over $184,000 to protect local childcare and early childhood education capacity in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Grants from the fund, established to support Sidney and its neighboring communities, will benefit Here Wee Grow Child Development Center, Kid’s Korner Early Child Development Center, as well as three licensed home care providers via $1,000 grants through Nebraska Children and Families Foundation.

A survey conducted by the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska identified the needs and perspectives of Nebraska-based childcare providers in the early days of the pandemic. The survey revealed that providers across the state are being burdened with an incredible amount of stress linked to economic pressure and threats to health and wellbeing. Over 80% of providers (both in-home and centers) reported that families were keeping their children at home resulting in devastating revenue losses. Thanks to funding from the Sidney Community Donor-Advised Fund in addition to the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, Here Wee Grow Child Development Center and Kid’s Korner Early Child Development Center will be able to compensate and retain high-quality staff members, even as revenues decline.

“The Sidney Community Donor-Advised Fund’s generosity won’t only have a positive impact on employees of the centers,” said Jeff Yost, president and CEO of Nebraska Community Foundation. “The benefits will extend to local children and families that depend on their services. Beyond that, quality early childhood education is a critically important essential service for the Sidney area at large. This is truly an investment in the community.”

On March 16, Here Wee Grow closed its doors in an effort to protect families, children and staff from COVID-19. “It was a time of when, where, and how,” said Director Rhonda Schuessler. “When will we be able to open? Where will our families go for childcare and support? And how will we manage to keep our doors open and take care of our staff who are dedicated to their profession? It has been a time of uncertainties and unanswered questions.”

Schuessler calls the grant from the Sidney Community Donor-Advised Fund “a miracle of hope.” It will help Here Wee Grow cover operating expenses, payroll, and continue to provide services in the future. Here Wee Grow’s dedicated staff and high-quality services have earned the center a Step 4 rating, defined by Nebraska’s Step Up to Quality program, one of only 47 providers statewide.

“Thank you for your support and for recognizing how important early childhood development is to our children and our community,” said Schuessler.

Kid’s Korner Early Child Development Center, which has also earned a Step 4 rating, has been caring for children living in the Sidney area since 2003. According to Director Tiffany Jones, “Kid’s Korner is humbled and appreciative to the Sidney Community Donor-Advised Fund of Nebraska Community Foundation. The impact of this grant has given us the opportunity to continue to support and retain our long-term, educated providers and assist in the daily operations of our childcare center. It has also ensured our vitality of continuing to offer our community high-quality childcare as we reopen our doors.”

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