Lincoln early childcare providers Liz Arnold and Shannon Hampson believe every provider in Nebraska deserves recognition and honor.

“We all need to work together to make a difference,” according to Hampson, with Wild Child Daycare.  “And that means we need to invite license-exempt providers to the table. We need to provide them the respect they’ve earned.”

A “License Exempt” provider is defined by the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as home care provided outside the client’s home to a maximum of six children from one family or three or fewer children from more than one family.

Arnold, with Just Like Mine Daycare, agreed with Hampson. “Our strength comes in including all of us – including license exempt providers. So, our goal is building a true, all-inclusive community of childcare providers.” There are 30 licensed exempt providers in Lincoln.

License-exempt providers legally offer their services in Nebraska, but do not have a childcare license for a variety of reasons including only caring for a small number of children and accepting child care subsidy.

These providers often begin their journey into small business by simply helping out with childcare for family, friends or neighbors. Perhaps they’re caring for their own children plus a few additional relatives or neighbor children.

Arnold and Hampson went about creating and distributing special quality kits tailored especially for license-exempt providers. Both former license-exempt providers (currently licensed providers), these two Lincoln women said the kits were a way of reaching out and connecting.

“We chose quality resources and materials for these kits that we believe would be valuable to providers, as well as items that meet one or more of the Nebraska Early Learning Guidelines criteria,” they explained.  “We considered what our own kids like, we looked at versatility and value, looked at opportunities for open-ended play.”

The kit included a host of information and educational books and toys, including:

  • Magnifying glasses
  • Paint brushes
  • Toy scarves
  • Treasure or discovery bags
  • Measuring spoons
  • Tape measures
  • A variety of books – many donated from a variety of sources
  • Information about additional childcare training and licensing opportunities

Lincoln Littles Associate Director, Suzanne Schneider was impressed with Arnold and Hampson’s initiative, saying “I love how they saw a need and stepped up to help other providers.”

Both Arnold and Hampson are proud of the care and quality reflected in the kits – distributed through the Nebraska DHHS over the past several months.  The Department continues to distribute the bags, and reports positive feedback.

“Thanks again for letting us be involved,” said Nicole Vint from DHHS.  “This has been a big win for providers.”

“We hope [the kits] gave these providers a boost. We hope it opened up the possibility for starting to build a community of license-exempt providers in Nebraska,” Hampson said. “These are quality providers who are an important part of the childcare community.”

Arnold continued: “If we want to show a united front to increase awareness of childcare issues and concerns, we need to provide a seat at the table for all providers.  We strengthen the voices of all childcare providers in Nebraska when we recognize we are all professionals who are valuable and deserve to be appreciated and respected.”

Schneider said, “Licensed exempt providers in Lincoln needn’t work in isolation without support systems. Lincoln Littles and peer providers are here to support them.”

The quality kits were created with support and funding from: Lincoln Littles, Lincoln Early Childhood Network, Support For Families, Community for Kids, Department of Health and Human Services and Nurturing Through Nature.

Fiscally sponsored by Lincoln Community Foundation, Lincoln Littles is an organization of passionate advocates focused on ensuring access to quality early childhood care and education in Lincoln