Educare Winnebago, which opened in March 2014, provides infants, toddlers and preschoolers with research-based, year-round early childhood education.

First Educare Serving Native Children and Families Opens in Nebraska


On October 17, 2014, the Winnebago community celebrated the grand opening of Educare Winnebago, a new state-of-the-art early childhood education school that ultimately will serve 191 children on the Winnebago Indian Reservation in northeastern Nebraska. The school is the first Educare in a Native American community, the fourth Educare in Nebraska and the 20th Educare in the country.

“Educare Winnebago is a welcome addition to our community,” says John Blackhawk, Winnebago Tribal Council chairman. “This school is dedicated to helping our youngest learners succeed while integrating our tribe’s cultural traditions into their education. These teachings will not only help our children be well-versed in their heritage, it also will provide them with the educational foundation they need to do well in school and beyond.”

Educare Winnebago, which opened in March 2014, provides infants, toddlers and preschoolers with research-based, year-round early childhood education. To enroll in the school, families must meet Head Start income requirements.

The Winnebago Tribal Council brought the Educare model to the community to narrow the academic achievement gap, which is evident as early as 18 months of age between low-income children and their higher-income peers. As the first Educare to specifically serve Native American children and families, the school combines the best practices of the Educare model with activities that honor local culture and traditions. Children will be taught in the native Ho-Chunk language in addition to English. Social skills will be taught through discussion of clanship and literacy will be promoted through culturally relevant books and by elders invited to share stories of their tribe. Just like at other Educare Schools, all teachers are members of the surrounding community.

Educare Winnebago, as part of the Educare Learning Network, is a public-private partnership involving the Winnebago Tribal Council, Winnebago Public Schools, Winnebago Head Start Program, Little Hill Child Development Center and Buffett Early Childhood Fund. Educare Winnebago consolidated two previous early learning programs into the new $10 million, 30,000-square-foot Educare building specifically designed to promote children’s learning. The school is part of the community’s renewed focus on improving children’s education, starting at birth and extending through college.

The Educare Learning Network extends to 13 states and the District of Columbia. The Network is a partnership involving the Ounce of Prevention Fund, Buffett Early Childhood Fund and hundreds of other like-minded early childhood providers, school superintendents, philanthropists, scholars, parents and other stakeholders across America.

For the past six years, an independent evaluation of other Educare Schools has shown consistently impressive findings: Educare prepares very vulnerable children with the vocabulary, social-emotional and school readiness skills they need to be successful in school and life. Educare classrooms continue to set the national standard for high-quality early childhood education, leading the field across a variety of measures of classroom and instructional quality. In addition, research shows the longer children attend Educare, the better they do. Children who enter Educare before age 3 score significantly higher on vocabulary measures than those who enter during their preschool years.

“Educare is proving to be a real game-changer when it comes to improving early learning for the most vulnerable children and families,” says Diana Mendley Rauner, president of the Ounce, which created the nation’s first Educare in a partnership with the Irving Harris Foundation and the Chicago Public Schools. “We’re honored that Educare will play a role in helping Winnebago children develop the academic and social-emotional foundation they need for strong learning outcomes.”

Buffett Early Childhood Fund Chair Susie Buffett notes, “The benefits of Educare are clear. All children, regardless of their family’s economic standing, deserve the best possible start in life, with a nurturing learning environment, high-quality teachers and good family support. With this new Educare, the Winnebago community is demonstrating a strong commitment to leveling the academic playing field for their children.”

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