For over 28 years, Voices for Children in Nebraska has been the outspoken, independent voice for Nebraska’s kids. As we move closer to our annual Spotlight Gala on September 19, we’re taking a look inside our organization to show you how we create opportunities for children to reach their full potential. For the second part of our three part series; “It’s Who We Are, It’s What We Do, It’s Why It Matters”, we’re looking at what we do–how we create opportunities for Nebraska’s kids.
At Voices for Children we tell the whole story of Nebraska’s kids. What do we mean when we say this? We mean that we have been and always will be the outspoken, independent voice for children. Our people are passionate about fairness for Nebraska’s children and we value solutions through research, engaging the public, strategic collaboration and system change.
Our mission: Voices for Children in Nebraska is the independent voice building pathways to opportunity for all children and families through research, policy and community engagement.
We tell the whole story through multiple avenues; in-depth research, robust advocacy and driven awareness towards action.
All of Voices for Children’s advocacy for kids lies on a strong foundation of data and research. The cornerstone is our Kids Count in Nebraska Report. Additionally, we release issues briefs, data snapshots and infographics to make our research and findings accessible.
Kids Count in Nebraska
For 22 years, we’ve published the Kids Count in Nebraska Report. Each edition of Kids Count offers a visually-oriented look that brings the data to life and makes finding information quick and easy. The 2014 report contained 96 pages with over 208 state-level indicators, 38 of which contain disaggregations based on gender, age, race/ethnicity, location or family type.
Each year we also feature a commentary section in Kids Count, an in-depth examination of an issue that helps further place the data into a policy context. In 2014, our commentary section was “Supporting Working Families”, which looked at the state of working families in Nebraska—where they are thriving, and where our state is missing the mark in ensuring that all families have the tools and resources to create future opportunity for all of our state’s children.
When we see a need for additional information that isn’t contained in the Kids Count in Nebraska Report, we produce a special issue brief. Our most recent issue-briefs include, “Status Offenders”: The Criminalization of Youth Behavior, Nebraska’s Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Centers, “I’m trying as hard as I can”: Barriers to Economic Opportunity for Nebraska Women, Supporting Kinship Care in Nebraska, and The Family Bottom Line : Nebraska’s Families After the Great Recession.
We use our research to engage the public and state leaders to build systems that remove obstacles and promote opportunities for all children to lead healthy, secure and fulfilling lives. In doing so, when a policy is good, we support it; when it is harmful, we fight it, and when it is missing, we create it.
Our road map in carrying out these principles is our “Pro-Kid Policy Plan for Nebraska.” Guided by research, data and proven best practices for kids, this plan offers guide to shape public policy in a way that puts children first:
By bringing our work into the community, we seek to elevate the level of conversation on key children’s issues. Throughout the year, we hold events to engage stakeholders and draw attention to the issues that face Nebraska’s kids.
Our most recent special event was the Race Matters Conference, which convened after persistent Kids Count in Nebraska data showed that children of color were performing below average and had limited opportunities when compared to the state’s children at large. Over 275 stakeholders came together at the conference which focused on racial equity—focusing on policies and practices using systems thinking.
Kids Count Presentations
In addition to these special events, each year as part of our Kids Count in Nebraska Report release, we go to communities across the state to highlight new findings and help put the data in context. Last year we had 10 Kids Count presentations, and gave out over 2,500 copies of the report.
Everyday there are individuals and organizations who find unique ways to reach out, serve and advocate for the best interests of children. Each year, Voices for Children chooses to spotlight four such individuals and organizations at our annual Spotlight Gala. As the independent, nonpartisan voice for children, we are not funded by any state, federal, city or county dollars. We are generously supported by people like you–who want to make a difference for the kids in our state. Our annual Spotlight Gala is the main night per year where you can help us make a difference, as well as honoring outstanding members of our community.
Join us next week for part three of “It’s Who We Are, It’s What We Do, It’s Why It Matters”
Throughout the years, we have been successful in engaging the public and state leaders to secure many policy victories for our state’s children. In the final part of our series next week, we’ll look at recent policy changes that arose out of action from Voices for Children, and examine why it matters for kids!