Thursday began early when Senators Barbara Mikulski and Richard Burr were honored during breakfast with the Working for Working Families Award, kicking off day two of the Child Care Aware® of America 2014 Symposium.
Burr attended breakfast with symposium attendees to receive the award, where he offered this:
“I’d like to make this challenge,” he said. “I’m not going to wait 20 years to reauthorize [the Child Care and Development Block Grant] again. My challenge to you is to begin as soon as this bill becomes law, to figure out what changes need to be made so a long time in advance we can look at how to enhance the outcome of the next generation.”
He closed with thanks to the Child Care Resource and Referral community, “There’s one thing I’m certain of,” he said. “We can make an impact on the lives and futures of my children and grandchildren, and yours. And for that, I’m here to say thank you.”
Day on the Hill
Attendees from all over the country met with their congressional members that afternoon. Starting with a celebratory photo, they returned to Symposium having made more than 347 visits with members of congress.
“It was really exciting to go to the Hill and talk about why early childhood is so important and hear why they believed it was important as well,” said one attendee, Caroline, who came to Symposium from Florida.
Those hill visits helped everyone move significantly closer to the 1K for Kids goal, bringing the total actions taken for children through social media over the first two days of Symposium to more than 800. By the end of Symposium, attendees and virtual participants had sent more than 1,500 social media actions, letters, visits and donations on behalf of children.
Evening reception and awards
That evening, during a reception filled with dinner and dessert, we honored Congressman George Miller (D-CA) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) with Lifetime Achievement Awards for all of their work on behalf of children during their careers.
We couldn't have picked a better closing keynote speaker than Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, Executive Director for Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood. She received a standing ovation for her talk about innovating for the future of children and families, and for supporting the value that we must make the child care system work for families.
The annual meeting included a farewell from Michael Olenick. He concluded his term as board president of Child Care Aware® of America and handed the gavel to Dr. L. Carol Scott, CEO of Child Care Aware® of Missouri.
The Raising of America
Symposium ended with a special screening of the forthcoming documentary, The Raising of America.
The film explores how a strong start for all children leads not only to better individual life course outcomes (learning, earning and physical and mental health) but also to a healthier, safer, better educated and more prosperous and equitable America.
After the screening, Dr. Jones-Taylor joined a discussion panel that included Matthew Melmed, Executive Director of ZERO TO THREE; and Dr. Renee Boynton-Jarrett, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine, who also appeared in the film.
Dr. Boynton-Jarrett, a mom of three, thanked the attendees saying, “I wouldn't be doing this work if I didn't have child care providers who made us comfortable and confident in their care.”
Matthew urged attendees to create local movements to support the discussions about early childhood that the film will generate. “The film does a great job of making the case between early education and inter-generational transitions,” he said. “If we can get the broader world to understand this, we can make a difference. We need public investment to make change.”
Dr. Jones-Taylor spoke to the role of families, “How do we help raise the voice of parents, understanding they are very busy? The child care system must work ultimately, for them.”
Dr. Boynton-Jarrett closed the discussion paying respect to those early childhood educators who help all of us on our education journey, “We must do better giving credit to early childhood educators for helping children succeed long term.”
What was your favorite moment from the 2014 Symposium? We’d love to hear it in the comments below.
Thank you to all our attendees, sponsors and presenter s who made the 2014 Symposium one of our best year's ever. Stay tuned for more!