Nurturing every child on the path to success

Lincoln Early Childhood Network

Lincoln Early Childhood Network (LECN) Vision Statement
We will be a culturally aware and inclusive community where all young children and their families are healthy, thriving, learning, and connected.

Mission: Nurture every child on the path to success

LECN Values and Beliefs: We believe in a Supportive Community where:

1. Early childhood and protective factors for health brain development are prioritized,

  • Families’ basic needs are met, and
  • Education for parents, families and caregivers is ensured.

2. We believe that System Alignment occurs when the community:

  • Implements policies and practices that support families, parents and caregivers, and
  • Ensures measurable outcomes for maximum impact.

3. We believe in Equitable Opportunities for:

  • Accessible and integrated healthcare and behavioral health services,
  • High-quality, affordable early childhood education, and
  • Families to live in safe neighborhoods with access to health food and physical activities.

LECN Population of Focus: young children and families residing in Lincoln and Lancaster County

LECN Work Groups

Support for Parents

The Support for Parents Working Group was formed in an effort to prioritize the role of supporting parents in raising thriving children.

Research supports the benefits for collaboration across systems and at the community level. Support for Parents will provide leadership in the area of early childhood parenting to support the goal of a city-wide early childhood network that supports and promotes raising thriving children.

Some of the projects that the Support for Parents Working Group is focused on include partnership with Help Me Grow Nebraska and 123 Connect with Me; holding an annual Early Childhood Family Fair; partnership with Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Lincoln Chapter and collaboration on the Early Childhood Celebration during Week of the Young Child; developing ways to enhance the promotion of Protective Factors within our community; expanding parent groups and creating systems for peer support; and participating as the stakeholder group for Parents Interacting with Infants (PIWI).

This group meets virtually the first Thursday of each month at 11:15 am. Meetings are typically 1 to 1 1/2 hours long. For more information or to get added to the group, contact Raegan Brown at or Lindsay Bartlett at

Comprehensive Health

The primary goal of the LECN Comprehensive Health Work Group is to strengthen early childhood comprehensive health systems in alignment with the common goals of the Lincoln Early Childhood Network.

In 2018, four assessments were completed by the Lincoln Early childhood Network Early Childhood Comprehensive Health Working Group as a part of a community-driven strategic planning process called Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) to get a better understanding of the early childhood health status and community themes and strengths in Lincoln/Lancaster County, Nebraska. These assessments revealed four strategic issues:

  • Disconnected and Siloed Early Childhood Health Community System, including uncoordinated and ineffective cross sector communication
  • Inequity and Disparities in the Early Childhood Health System, including inequity in affordability, access, and promotion of healthy foods as well as barriers to medical and behavioral health services
  • Inadequate Parent and Family Supports
  • Gaps in Services and Protective Factors for Mental Health

Once these issues had been identified, the group worked to identify a framework with which to best address the issues as a community. Help Me Grow ( was found to be a solution that works to address the identified issues by helping to create greater equity and reduce disparities in early childhood health systems. Help Me Grow (HMG) is a system-building framework that leverages community strengths and focuses on family-centered solutions. The system is built around four core components:

  • Family & Community Outreach: In Lincoln/Lancaster County this component is the Support for Parents Working Group of the Lincoln Early Childhood Network supported by a Maternal Child Health Block Grant (MCH).
  • Child Health Provider Outreach: This work is led by Dr. Erica Peterson from Bluestem Health  and Dr. Bob Rauner –  Supported by a Preschool Development Grant (PDG)
  • Data Collection & Analysis: This work is led by Lorey Wheeler, Co-Director, Nebraska Academy for Methodology, Analytics and Psychometrics at UNL and Kristen Derr, Project Manager for Teachers and Parents as Partners (TAPP) at UNLs Center for Children, Youth, Families and Schools.
  • Centralized Access Point: This work is led by a team of partners from United Way of the Midlands/2-1-1, The Munroe-Meyer Institute at UNMC, and the UNL Center on Children, Families and the Law. Supported by Preschool Development Grant (PDG) funding.

These groups meet regularly to carry out the activities of the Comprehensive Health Work Group at large. Contact Rick Helweg for meeting dates and more information at

Access to Quality

Our vision is to be a culturally aware and inclusive community where all children and their families are healthy, thriving, learning and connected with a mission to nurture every child on the path to success.

The first five years are the most critical years of development for the human brain. It is incumbent upon all members of our community to support high-quality early childhood programs and services for youth and their families, as well as the workforce that delivers these programs in support of our community’s youngest citizens. Our purpose is to work with community partners and businesses to advocate for high quality early childhood development, learning experiences and environment.

A high-quality program as defined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) provides “a safe, nurturing environment that promotes the physical, social, emotional and cognitive development of young children while responding to the needs of families. 

When care is consistent, developmentally appropriate, and emotionally supportive, and the environment is healthy and safe, there are positive effects on children and their families. Please consider joining us once a month to brainstorm ideas and put into action for our Lincoln families.

This group meets the third Thursday at 1:00.  Contact Prudence Devney at for meeting dates.