Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version

Summer 7-29-2011


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Under the Supervision of Professor Helen Raikes. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2011

Copyright 2011 Katherine E. Hauptman


In Nebraska more than one-third of infants and toddlers live in conditions that are not conducive to early learning, putting them at-risk of failing in school and in life. By age four impoverished children are behind their peers by an average of 18 months. Sixpence Early Learning Fund works to ensure that children who are identified as at-risk in Nebraska are given the most optimal beginnings, preparing them for success throughout their lives. Currently, Sixpence is supporting thirteen programs across eleven school districts in Nebraska. Early childhood educators fulfill an important role that deserves increased recognition. Leadership in regards to early childhood education has received limited research attention. The purpose of this study was to gather descriptive information about Nebraska Sixpence programs and about what directors of successful programs attribute to the success of programs. Three Sixpence program directors were interviewed. Five themes emerged: (1) empowering families, (2) individualization, (3) ongoing growth and development, (4) collaboration and partnering, and (5) balance. This research adds to the growing body of information available for early childhood education for infants and toddlers, and particularly by illuminating the directors’ perspective, taking one step closer towards the goal of increasing knowledge which supports early childhood success. Implications for future research and practical application were discussed.

Advisor: Helen Raikes