Danielle, a single mom of a 3-year old boy, had finally found her footing. She had a professional job she loved and was working her way off

From left: Jen Strand, President of Nebraska Title Company; Danielle, mom and employee; Anne Brandt, Lincoln Littles Executive Director and Suzanne Schneider, Lincoln Littles Associate Director

government assistance, when suddenly, it almost fell apart.

“The more I advanced in my career, the less assistance I got,” Danielle, a 28-year old Lincoln native, said. “But there’s a really big gap that a lot of people don’t realize.”

Danielle had a rough start in life, eventually landing in foster care as a teenager. She was always a hard worker, and made the most of her time at Lincoln High by participating in sports and other school activities. After graduation in 2014, She started working in childcare and started college but wasn’t able to finish school. While she loved kids, childcare wasn’t what she wanted to do long term, but without a degree, her career options were limited.

In 2020 amidst the pandemic she became pregnant. As a single mom, she was ready for a change.

When her son was nine months old, “I took a leap of faith and applied to be a teller at bank,” she said. She quickly worked her way up to processing commercial loans. But the fit still wasn’t quite right. “My son comes first and I needed a supervisor that understood what it’s like being a single mom. Not everyone has a big village.”

In March, 2023, she was offered a job at Nebraska Title. “They are a lot more understanding,” she said. “I’m good at it and spend a lot of time volunteering with the Realtors Association. They are willing to give me that work life balance.”

Then life struck again. Danielle knew that with her increase in pay, she’d no longer qualify for child care subsidy soon. “I assumed I had to pay the full amount in January,” Danielle said. “But when they billed me for December, subsidy wouldn’t pay. That’s $270 per week and it was already 2 weeks into January when we discovered subsidy was no longer paying.”

“I told my boss, Jen, that if I couldn’t pay my childcare bill, I couldn’t come to work,” Danielle said. “I’m paid well, but as a one-income household, I was still struggling.”

Jen Strand, President of Nebraska Title Company, knew about Lincoln Littles through her personal friendship with Executive Director, Anne Brandt. “I didn’t know the full scope of what Lincoln Littles did,” Jen said, “but I knew if anyone could help Danielle through the situation, it would be Lincoln Littles.

Danielle has been a great addition to our team,” Jen said. “I told her, ‘We will figure it out together. We don’t want to lose you. We see how hard you work.’”

“Jen assured me I wouldn’t lose my job if I didn’t have daycare the next week,” Danielle remembers.

Lincoln Littles provided an emergency fund grant within a day or two to cover the unexpected bill.

In conversations with Lincoln Littles, Danielle mentioned that she worked at her son’s childcare center from 6:15 am to 8:15 am before going to work at Nebraska Title 8:30 am to 5 pm. Lincoln Littles told her she qualified for the two-day Childcare Teachers Foundations Class which included a $5,000 grant toward childcare expenses.

“I’ve tried to do everything possible so my son has everything he needs or wants in life and is not struggling,” Danielle said. “But I’ve found that there are different struggles. Making more money is great except when you’re working your way off assistance.”

Having a supportive workplace at Nebraska Title has been everything Danielle hoped. “It has never been an issue about not being paid enough,” she said. “I appreciate how willing they were to work with me. We had a conversation after I received the emergency funds about how we are going to prevent this from happening again. With the unexpected bill taken care of, I can work and do what I love to do and also maintain child care needs moving forward.”

“Danielle’s situation has given me a greater appreciation for the programs and advocacy efforts led by Lincoln Littles,” Jen said. “I appreciate Lincoln Littles stepping in and providing the tools and support Danielle needed. She has a bright future ahead of her.”

“I am very blessed to know people who know people. I had no idea that Lincoln Littles was an option or what they did,” Danielle said. “Lincoln, as a growing city, still has that small town feel where people are willing to step up when someone is in need.”