Early Childhood

 About the Program

The Early Childhood Program offers young children, and their families, experiences where the children learn through play, make choices, increase social skills, and build self-confidence. The Early Childhood Program offers both home based and center based options. Inclusive classes are located in neighborhood elementary schools for preschool age children and in some of the high schools for children age birth to 3.  Families are involved in the program through volunteer opportunities, development, and leadership.

The Early Childhood Program services have multiple funding streams, including Head Start, Title I Preschool, State Aid-Funded Preschool, Nebraska Department of Education, Health and Human Services, Sixpence and special needs funding.


We, as educators in the Lincoln Public Schools, believe the early childhood years are critical exciting times in childrens’ lives. We recognize each child as a unique person with an individual pattern and rate of learning and growth. During these formative years, families, educators, and communities join together as educational partners to provide safe, caring, stimulating learning environments, which actively engage developmentally appropriate and culturally responsive practices.


Partnering with children and families to become successful members of a community in a safe and inclusive environment for everyone to grow and learn together.


  • To promote the physical, cognitive, social and emotional growth of young children and prepare them for future growth and development.
  • To support parents – mothers/fathers, foster parents, and grandparents – in their roles as primary caregivers and educators of their children in meeting family goals and achieving self-sufficiency.
  • To strengthen community support for families with young children.
  • To develop highly trained and caring program staff.

What does the Early Childhood Program offer?

For children and their families the Early Childhood Program provides:

  • Opportunities to socialize, solve problems, and experience success
  • People who care, accept, and encourage
  • Home visits which focus on the family
  • A variety of learning experiences in a safe, caring setting
  • Health screenings
  • Practice of good habits in eating, tooth brushing, cleanliness, and safety
  • Partnerships for parents in volunteering, leadership, and development
  • Help for special needs of children with disabilities
  • Assistance in using community resources

Program Delivery Options

All Options provide comprehensive services in the areas of Parent Engagement, Nutrition, Health, Social Services, Education, Disabilities, and Volunteer Opportunities.

Center Based:

  • Birth to Three: Full day experiences in licensed centers within local high schools for young children with caring and qualified staff. Parent Pay or child care subsidy accepted.
  • Three and Four: Half-day center experiences where all children learn through play, make choices, increase social skills, and build confidence. Children may be bused to neighborhood elementary school sites.

Home Based:

  • Birth to Three: Weekly, family focused home visits and small group gatherings where parents, children, and staff play and learn together.

Home Based and Community Services:

  • Offered for children, birth to five. Support for IFSP and IEP goals offered in a natural environment, whether that be in a home or community setting.

Student/Parent Program:

  • School and community work together to meet health, guidance, and education needs of the student parent and their children. The program helps students (both male and female) who are pregnant or parenting to meet the challenges of being a teen, a parent, and a student. More information can be found on the Student/Parent Program website.


Resources and Forms




Early Childhood Locations

Elementary Schools Early Childhood Programs
High Schools Early Childhood Programs

Commonly Asked Questions

How can I apply for my child to be enrolled in the Early Childhood program?

Please Call 402-436-1994 to schedule an appointment or come to the Early Childhood Program Office located in the District Office at 5905 O St.  When applying to the Early Childhood Program you must present a certified birth certificate for your child, your child’s immunization record, and income verification for the past year (previous years tax return, W-2, or check stub). A list of income sources that must be reported is included with the application cover sheet. We make photocopies of all required documents for our files.

Applications  for the upcoming school year will be available and can be completed on or after March 1. (Spanish Application)

What is the process for accepting my child into the program?

Once an application is completed, (including the child’s birth certificate, immunization record, and income verification) the application is processed and your child is placed on the waiting list in a priority order.  Selection and placement of children is determined and all families are notified to let them know if their child is accepted or will remain on the waiting list for the present time.

What criteria are used to decide if my child can be accepted?

Applications are prioritized by several categories, including the child’s age, the family’s income and all information provided in the application.  Those with the highest priority are accepted into the program first. If two applications have the same priority rating, the one that was received first will be considered first.

How does a person become an Early Childhood volunteer?

Volunteers are welcome in the Early Childhood Program.  Anyone wishing to become a volunteer should contact the volunteer coordinator at  (402-436-1995) to set up an appointment for orientation.  Volunteers will be required to complete some paperwork and work with the volunteer coordinator to set up a specific location for volunteering.  If you prefer to complete the paperwork before coming to the appointment, you can access it here volunteer agreement , and confidentiality policy  These forms need to be completed and turned in to the Early Childhood Office during the orientation.

Assuring your child’s safety

All adults – parents, volunteers, staff – are required to sign a Request for Information which will be sent to the State of Nebraska Adult and Child Abuse and Neglect Registry. You will be asked to complete the form during an enrollment session before your child begins Early Childhood classes.

Early Childhood Leadership Team

  • Deila Steiner, Director of Federal Programs
  • Patty Smith, Supervisor of Early Childhood
  • Monica Asher, Infant/Toddler Coordinator
  • Laura Maddox, Disabilities Specialist
  • Dawn Sugden, RN, Health Specialist
  • Toni Jafferis, Parent Engagement and Enrollment Specialist
  • Denise Sorensen, Education Specialist
  • Carrie Erks, Mental Health Specialist
  • Cassie Macke, Early Childhood Secretary
  • Connie Deschaine, Early Childhood Secretary

Search Federal Programs

Federal Programs Contact

Dr. Linda Hix
Interim Director of Federal Programs
lhix@lps.org | 402-436-1988

5905 O Street
Lincoln, Nebraska 68510

Early Childhood Contact

Patty Smith
Supervisor of Early Childhood psmith3@lps.org | 402-436-1994