Atkinson/Holt County Communities For Kids Receives $38,000 In Grant Funding For Early Childhood Activities

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation (NCFF) Communities for Kids (C4K) initiative recently awarded $38,000 through two grant opportunities to assist with early childhood activities in Atkinson.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Atkinson and Holt County to begin the steps needed to offer affordable, early childhood education. With this money, Atkinson can develop programs that not only strengthen our current providers’ businesses but also attract young families to the community by providing a sufficient amount of openings for children ages zero to five,” said Holt County Economic Development Director Darby Paxton and C4K core team member.

The first grant in the amount of $10,000 will assist with dispersing a community survey to identify the strengths and gaps of the current whole-child, early care, and education resources in the community.

Questions for the survey were selected by the Atkinson/Holt County C4K core team during its last meeting on Aug. 20 at Flat Iron Bar & Grill. Through the assistance of NCFF representatives, an online survey is being developed and will be launched soon. Additionally, paper copies of the survey will be available at the Atkinson Economic Development Office at the city offices located at 104 S. Main St.

The Atkinson/Holt County C4K initiative also will use the grant funding for items such as a feasibility study, marketing materials, workshops for continuing education for local childcare providers, other educational opportunities focused on early childhood activities and more.

Through the Federal Department of Health and Human Services Preschool Development Grant (PDG), NCFF awarded the Atkinson/Holt County C4K initiative a contract for an Early Childhood Community Coordinator (ECCC) reimbursable grant in the amount of $28,000. This grant is being used to employee Melissa Polinoski as the Atkinson/Holt County C4K ECCC.

“With Melissa’s years of experience in education and her ambition since the beginning of this project, our core team is excited to have the opportunity to hire her, thanks to this grant, as a full-time coordinator to focus on early childhood activities in our area,” said Atkinson Economic Development Director Amanda Sindelar and C4K core team member.

Prior to being hired for this position, Polinoski worked as a Pre-K through 12th grade certified teacher in the areas of art, reading, math, and high ability learning.  She has business ownership and grant writing experience, as well extensive knowledge of educational curriculum development.

“Through the Communities for Kids initiative, and the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, we have been granted an extraordinary opportunity for our community. Children are the heart of our community, and creating opportunities for them to learn, grow, and thrive is important to everyone. I look forward to working with early childhood care providers, businesses, and community members to create stellar opportunities for our children and community to grow,” Polinoski said.

Owner of Busy B’s Daycare in Atkinson and a core team member, Becky Lieswald also is excited and grateful to see the community awarded these grants.

“The first five years in a child’s life are critical to their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical growth and development. These grants will allow us to turn our focus towards the young children in our community and provide opportunities for them and their families that we may not have had otherwise.  I am looking forward to seeing what our early childhood care in Atkinson looks like in the next few years after gaining this relationship with Communities for Kids,” she said.

The community of Atkinson was selected earlier this year to be part of C4K, a state-wide initiative which supports young children, families and those providing their care. During that process, core team members of Atkinson/Holt County C4K initiative created the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Atkinson Children and Families Coalition, Inc. to funnel donations exclusively for childcare activities by providing a conduit through which all people, organizations and businesses can contribute to this initiative.

For more information about the Atkinson/Holt County Communities for Kids initiative, please contact Amanda Sindelar at amanda.sindelar@atkinsonne.com or 402-340-7343 or Melissa Polinoski at melissapolinoski@gmail.com or 402-340-8182.

“This project is made possible by funding received through Grant Number 90TP0079-01, of the USDHHS-Administration for Children and Families, Office of Early Childhood; Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services; Nebraska Department of Education; and Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, following grant requirements of 70% federal funding with 30% match from state and private resources.”

“Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Child Care, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”