Governor Pete Ricketts issued an executive order to expand childcare options for working Nebraska families and to provide relief for childcare centers participating in the State’s Child Care Subsidy Program on April 15.

The order suspends two regulations governing the State’s Child Care Subsidy Program.  First, the Governor’s order allows licensed child care providers within the program to bill the State for days when a child is absent from care.  Second, the order enables families participating in the subsidy program to obtain in-home child care when other options are unavailable. 

Stephanie Beasley, Director of the Division of Children and Family Services (CFS) for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), joined the Governor at the April 15 press conference.  She spoke about the intent of the executive order and overviewed its regulatory changes.

Additionally, the Governor announced the launch of a business response survey to gauge how Nebraska businesses are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.  The survey has been developed by the State’s Department of Economic Development in partnership with the University of Nebraska System; the Lincoln, Greater Omaha, and state chambers of commerce; the Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Nebraska Omaha; and the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Ted Carter, President of the University of Nebraska System, took part in the press briefing to discuss the survey.  He talked about its purpose, the information it will collect, and how the data will inform the University’s efforts to support businesses.

Gov. Ricketts: 21 Days to Keep Nebraska Healthy

We are now on Day 6 of the “21 Days to Stay Home and Stay Healthy” campaign. I want to remind people of our Six Rules to Keep Nebraska Healthy.
Stay home.  No non-essential errands and no social gatherings.  Respect the ten-person limit. Socially distance your work.  Work from home or use the six-foot rule as much as possible in the workplace. Shop alone and only shop once a week.  Do not take family with you. Help kids follow social distancing.  Play at home.  No group sports.  And no playgrounds. Help seniors stay at home by shopping for them.  Do not visit long-term care facilities. Exercise daily at home or with an appropriately socially-distanced activity.

Gov. Ricketts: Business Survey

The Nebraska Business Response Survey will capture the voice of Nebraska business owners and leaders as they navigate through the impacts of COVID-19. The results from this statewide survey will help the State and business support services better assist Nebraska businesses during this challenging time. We are asking all business owners, along with non-profit leaders, to complete this survey as soon as possible. We need your help for a couple of reasons:
The voice of Nebraska businesses needs to be heard as we work to restore growth. Your response will help other businesses in Nebraska as we plan for the future. The survey is live now at cpar.unomaha.edu/nebusinessresponse.

President Carter: Business Survey

The University of Nebraska is a proud partner in this effort to survey our state’s businesses.   Like the Governor, we want to understand the challenges Nebraska businesses are facing in these difficult times.   We want to develop the right support strategies for businesses as we look to get our economy back on track in the long term. We join the Governor and our state’s chambers of commerce in encouraging Nebraska businesses to complete the survey. We’re eager to monitor the results because they will inform the activities of a number of University entities that are well positioned to serve Nebraska businesses.  For example:
Nebraska Business Development Center consultants will work directly with business owners to evaluate best practices for growth as we re-open the economy. Nebraska Extension specialists will work on the ground in communities across the state to rebuild businesses for the future. Our early childhood experts will provide expertise and support to Nebraska child care providers. Our Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership, housed in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will offer training to increase the productivity of small- to medium-sized manufacturers. These are just a few of our many activities to support businesses in the state.  Our online platform—SourceLink—connects Nebraskans with University services that support entrepreneurship, business, and economic development.  I invite Nebraskans to explore SourceLink at: nebraska.edu/sourcelink. The University looks forward to supporting Nebraska businesses as we work toward recovery and growth.

Gov. Ricketts: Child Care Executive Order

Childcare is a critical need for working Nebraskans during this pandemic. Childcare facilities have been limited to ten kids per room. We have issued guidance for childcare providers that is available at www.dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus. We are taking additional steps today to make sure folks have the ability to access the childcare they need. I have signed a new executive order waiving two regulations for the Child Care Subsidy Program.
Licensed child care providers can now bill DHHS for days when the child is absent from care because the child’s parent or legal caretaker chooses to keep the child home, or is unable to utilize care, due to the COVID-19 emergency. Additionally, families participating in the child care subsidy program may obtain in-home child care when other child care options are unavailable.

Director Beasley: Child Care Executive Order

The COVID-19 public health crisis has caused a significant disruption in the lives of all Nebraskan families, including those families CFS serves through child care subsidies. As of this morning, 16% of licensed child care programs in Nebraska have temporary closed since the COVID-19 emergency declaration.  This means that over 4,000 children whose families receive child care subsidy from the State may not have access to safe, high-quality care as their parents or guardians work—or look for work—to provide for their families. Today, Governor Ricketts has announced two initiatives to benefit families currently receiving child care subsidies and their child care providers. Starting today, families currently receiving child care subsidies, and who may be experiencing a child care closure, will have the option to use a license exempt in-home child care provider.  This is an individual who goes into the home of the child to provide care.  This regulatory change provides an alternative child care option for families whose usual child care provider or program has closed. The change also creates new job opportunities for individuals interested in providing in-home child care.  Such persons could be temporarily unemployed neighbors, friends, or relatives. Starting today, CFS will also allow licensed child care subsidy providers to bill the State for times when subsidy children are absent from child care during the COVID-19 emergency declaration. This temporary change will help sustain licensed child care subsidy providers, while ensuring that child care subsidy families have access to high-quality care.   Importantly, a child care program is eligible for this provision so long as they remain open—or reopen—and can bill for absent days. Together, these changes will help ensure continued access to high-quality child care, provide new job opportunities, and support local communities by making sure Nebraska has a strong child care network throughout the state.

Read the Governor’s executive order pertaining to the State’s Child Care Subsidy Program by clicking here.

Full video of the April 15 press briefing is available by clicking here.