Supporting Early Childhood

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation (NCFF) supports children, young adults and families at risk with the overall goal of giving our state’s most vulnerable kids what they need to reach their full potential. Siouxland Human Investment Partnership (SHIP), the backbone organization for Dakota County Connections, administers four grants from NCFF that benefit the children and families in Dakota County. We greatly appreciate the programming and opportunities provided by these grants.

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
Nebraska Children Rooted


The social and emotional development that takes place in childrens early years is influenced most powerfully by the relationships and interactions between young children and their caregivers. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, early care providers and educators all play a crucial role in laying a strong foundation for all future development. All children need nurturing relationships with a few responsive caregivers in a safe supportive environment in order to develop to their fullest potential socially and emotionally. It is through these conditions that children are given the opportunity to:

  • Learn to trust those who care for them.
  • Learn about themselves, their feelings, and their abilities.
  • Gain a positive self-esteem.
  • Learn to respect others feelings and rights.

So, given that parenting is the toughest job we have — and that we often do it in our spare time, — the only way to keep a strong bond with our children is to build in daily habits of connection. Here are a few activities that don’t add time to your day but do add connection — and could change your life.

1. Aim for 12 hugs (or physical connections) every day. 

Snuggle your child first thing in the morning for a few minutes, and last thing at night. Hug when you say goodbye, when you’re re-united, and often in between. Tousle hair, pat backs, rub shoulders. Make eye contact and smile, which is a different kind of touch.

2. Play.

Laughter, smiles and playing keep you connected with your child. Making laughter a daily habit also gives your child a chance to laugh do it together with you.

3. Turn off technology when you interact.

Your child will remember for the rest of her life that she was important enough to her parents that they turned off their phone to listen to her. Even turning off music in the car can be a powerful invitation to connect.

4. Make time for one-on-one time.

Do whatever you need to do to schedule 15 minutes with each child, separately, every day. Alternate doing what your child wants and doing what you want during that time.