What is the Buffett Early Childhood Institute?
The Buffett Early Childhood Institute was announced on January 31, 2011. Because
of a generous gift from Omaha philanthropist Susie Buffett – a gift that the University
has committed to more than match – the University of Nebraska has the opportunity
to be a national leader and model for the engagement of public higher education
in addressing early childhood.
The Buffett Institute is a university-wide, multidisciplinary research, education,
outreach and policy center that will help transform the approach to early childhood
development and education in Nebraska and across the nation. The Buffett Institute
will be dedicated to promoting the learning and healthy development of children
from birth to age 8, focused especially on those who are vulnerable because of poverty,
abuse, or developmental, learning, or behavioral challenges.
The Institute will integrate teaching and professional development; research and
scholarship; and outreach from disciplines spanning all four campuses of the university,
with a particular emphasis on using research to inform public policy and early childhood
practice in immediate, practical ways. The institute will include three interrelated
divisions, each with its own associate director: research; teaching and professional
development; and outreach and policy. There will be steering or advisory committees
aligned with these functions, composed of Nebraska stakeholders, university representatives,
and content experts.
Faculty and students from many fields and disciplines will be involved; for example,
child and family studies, educational psychology, teacher education, educational
administration, pediatrics, public health, special education, environmental education,
communications, speech pathology, psychology, nutrition, sociology, economics, architecture
and landscape design. University centers that will be involved include the Center
for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools at UNL; the Munroe-Meyer Institute
at UNMC; Center for Children, Families and the Law at UNL; Colleges of Medicine
and Public Health at UNMC; and the colleges of education at UNO, UNK, and UNL; and
Photo credit: Steven Dahl
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Educare of Lincoln
A key goal of the University of Nebraska’s Buffett Early Childhood Institute is
to be a core partner in building several new Educare Centers in Nebraska modelled after the successful
centers around the country, including two Educares of Omaha at Kellom and Indian
Hill. An Educare of Lincoln is currently underway, with plans to break ground Oct. 18, 2011,
and open about one year later!
It is being designed by RDG Planning & Design of Omaha, working closely with an
architectural team representing the Lincoln partners that have been providing input
based on the programmatic needs of the Lincoln community. Partners in this venture
are: Community Action Partnership of Lancaster and Saunders County; Lincoln Public
Schools; the University of Nebraska; and the Buffett Early Childhood Fund.
The Educare of Lincoln will be located next to Belmont Elementary School, 3425 North
14th Street. One especially exciting aspect of the project is that the Educare of
Lincoln will be situated next to the soon-to-be-built Belmont Park Natural Play
Space, the first of its kind in Nebraska, opening up new possibilities for nature
and science education, exploration, and physical activity for children and families
of every age and background.
The Educares of Nebraska will be sites of service, study and professional development
for University of Nebraska faculty and students. The Buffett Early Childhood Institute
will provide assessment resources to the Educare Centers and coordinate closely
with many other partners to make sure that early childhood teachers and providers
in Nebraska and elsewhere receive strengthened pre-service and in-service learning
The Buffett Early Childhood Institute will always seek to increase public access
to research-based information and support in implementation so that best practices
are put to work for children birth through age eight. Each Educare is a catalyst
for change – serving the children and families who cross its threshold while also
helping to boost quality among other early childhood providers community-wide. Each
Educare also functions as a “showroom” in which lawmakers, policymakers, business
leaders and others learn about the wisdom of investing in the early years. The Educare
of Lincoln will have wonderful observational and meeting spaces open to the community
and is intended to promote public awareness and knowledge about early childhood
development and education.
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