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Educational Service Unit 13

Early Childhood


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Supporting the adults in children’s lives so that they can provide enriching experiences through positive relationships and healthy brain development, leading to a culture of life long learning.


In 2018 ESU 13 made a big commitment to Early Childhood in the creation of a separate EC department.  By doing this, ESU 13 was saying to the Panhandle that they were committed to the philosophy that the early year's matter.  An investment in the early years allows ESU 13 and our partners to change the trajectory of children when it matters most.  It is in the first 5 years that 90% of brain architecture is created to support the ongoing learning that will take place in the K-12 years and beyond.  If we aren’t working to create quality experiences of early learning in those years, it is difficult to go back and fix the gaps that are created in the brain.


ESU 13 Early Childhood Department is committed to innovation and best practice as we work with our partners to make our Vision for Panhandle Children and Families a reality.


A system of high-quality, available, and affordable early care and education programs. Programs where children bustle in and get to work by playing and learning with their peers and caregivers in environments built to encourage the natural curiosity and unique qualities of each child.

Steady and well-planned transitions from home, to child care, to preschool, and through the elementary grades. Parents, teachers, and caregivers creating a positive culture of mutual respect and strong partnerships.

Classrooms and homes that nurture a love for learning that will go far beyond the school years as children benefit from teachers, caregivers, and parents who implement new ideas learned in local, high-quality professional development opportunities.

Teachers and caregivers who use their love of children and expertise in early learning to dedicate themselves to a career preparing our youngest learners for what lies ahead in our ever-changing world. Within their chosen field, teachers are compensated with salaries and benefits reflecting respect for the value provided to their communities, families, and employers.

Policies that support, initiatives that fund, and business leaders who understand that thriving children allow their parents to be focused, committed employees doing their best work for their employers and the community.

Generations who continue to come back again and again to raise their amazing children and enjoy a high quality of life in their communities.

Can you see this place? This is the Panhandle, a great place to grow.

ESU 13 knows that it is only through collaboration that we can make all of this work happen.  We recognize the following local and state partners:

21 Panhandle School Districts

Panhandle Partnership, Inc. – Members of Systems of Care 0-8 workgroup

NDE Office of Early Childhood

NDE Office of Special Education – Part C Early Development Network

Office of Head Start

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation – Sixpence Child Care Partnerships – Chadron, Gering, Sidney

Buffett Early Childhood Institute – Panhandle Report


Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission


Nebraska Early Childhood Strategic Plan – 2020

Panhandle Community Child Care