Recap CCAoA’s 2024 Symposium – Raise Child Care! Raise America!

June 10, 2024

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This year’s CCAoA Symposium came at a turning point for the field. Never before has America been more child care aware. Never before have we had the opportunity to make child care strong. We did a lot of deep thinking and strategizing during the week, encouraging participants to engage with the sessions and each other.  

 “Wow. It’s not often that I find myself learning something really new and innovative at conferences anymore, but this session challenged me to think differently, and I started dreaming again. This was remarkable.” – Symposium Participant 

The nation’s leading experts on health, early childhood, and policy headlined the symposium.  

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director, Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, recounted her partnership with early childhood teachers and their role in supporting her family. She recognized that quality child care helps shape children’s healthy development and families’ well-being, calling the child care field an essential member of team public health. Dr. Cohen shared a range of CDC resources and outlined opportunities for continued partnership.  
  •  Dr. Walter Gilliam of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute got the crowd going when he said, "How much we truly care for our young children can be measured by how much we care for those who care for young children." He and Dr. Charlene Wong of the CDC spoke about building the mental health and well-being continuum of support for young children and early educators.  
  • And, Linda Smith, Director of Policy, Buffett Early Childhood Institute and Senior Fellow, Child Care Aware® of America, Celia Hartman Sims, Founder and President of The Abecedarian Group, LLC, and Mario Cardona, the Senior Advisor for Early Childhood Development & Education on the White House Domestic Policy Council, covered Lessons Learned and What’s Next for CCDBG Reauthorization. They warned us not to make child care a partisan issue and encouraged us to build relationships to ensure the best results and spur action. We must tell the stories and make the situation real for the legislators.

It wasn’t all conference rooms, though. Elected officials heard from child care leaders during 160 visits during Advocacy Day! Participants from 42 states, 2 US territories, and the District of Columbia shared data and stories from their states to show the importance of investing in child care and supporting long-term, sustainable strategies to grow the supply of child care. 

We also showcased a new, groundbreaking documentary, crafted by an award-winning filmmaking team. The film, “Make a Circle,” closely follows the directors and teachers at three child care programs over several years, capturing the magic within their classrooms, their struggles, and their unwavering commitment to a child care system that had already been pushed to its limits. Participants overwhelmingly felt that the film was an excellent way to kick off the Symposium. One participant shared that they felt the film was “Thought-provoking, inspiring, grounding, and meaningful.” —and many were inspired to contact the producer for viewings in their communities to strengthen their grassroots advocacy efforts.

Raise Child Care! Raise America! helped participants seize the present moment, deepening and sharing their expertise while gaining insight into how to fit their focus and those of others into a successful movement for powerful impact.  

Don’t miss CCAoA’s next event, the 2024 Leadership Institute – Strong Leaders, Strong Child Care. Join us in beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah on October 16 and 17 for this incredible event!


Topics: Events

Mindy Bennett

Written by Mindy Bennett

Mindy Bennett brings over 25 years of experience in the early childhood sector including teaching for children birth – kindergarten, owning a family child care home, child care center administration, as well as directing Indiana’s largest local CCR&R agency and later the work of Indiana’s state CCR&R network. In July of 2017 Mindy joined the staff at Child Care Aware® of America and is currently the Senior Director over Member Relations where she oversees supports for our members and works with strategic partnerships.