October 20-22, 2021
Responding to the unprecedented events of 2020, the conference addressed Family Engagement through four lenses: Health and Well Being, Economic Opportunities, Culture and Equity, and Civic Participation. Each day the conference started with a thought-maker who showed attendees innovative ways to address family engagement.
Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, a pediatrician working in the public interest, spoke on “Health and Well Being.” He blends the roles of physician, occasional children’s librarian, educator, public health professional, and child health advocate. With graduate degrees in public health, children’s librarianship, physician assistant studies, and medicine, he brings a unique combination of interests and experience together, with a special emphasis on working with underserved populations, early literacy programs in health care settings, particularly around ideas of early brain and child development, which include neurobiological effects of adversity and poverty upon the developing brain.
Marriage and Family Therapist Laura Fish spoke on “Caring for Ourselves During Uncertain Times.” A private practitioner, Fish believes physical, mental, and spiritual health are tantamount to a fulfilling life. While earning my Masters in Counseling from San Diego State University, she worked as a pre-school teacher, which sparked a passion for working with children and families. Since then she has worked as a therapist with child, adolescent, and adult populations in various settings, including San Diego’s LGBT Community Center, Scripps Hospital’s outpatient treatment for the severely mentally ill, and community-based wraparound service programs for CPS-involved families
Presenting on Culture and Equity was Anthony Barrows, managing director at the applied behavioral science firm ideas42, where he leads the economic justice portfolio and has also overseen projects in local government, post-secondary education, and civic engagement. He previously worked for more than 10 years in child welfare, spanning positions in direct service, supervision, training, advocacy, project management, and systems improvement. He is also a practicing artist and has led art classes and arts-oriented youth development programming.
The “Civic Participation” keynote was delivered by the Office of Head Start Director Dr. Deborah Bergeron. She has been a teacher at heart her entire life and has spent three decades in pre-K–12 public education as a classroom teacher and elementary and high school administrator. In the course of her career, Bergeron also started, grew, and ultimately sold her own educational services company.
Designed to celebrate the different cultures, traditions and practices that are reflected in the modern family, this annual event helps participants learn how to use the strengths and attributes of culture to aid a child’s own successful walk through the world.
Special sessions included topics such as families experiencing homelessness, performance standards, integration challenges faced by children and families, transitions to Kindergarten and building a quality fatherhood program,
The Keynote speaker on the first day was Sacha Klein, Ph.D., M.S.W., an Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work at Michigan State University where she teaches child welfare, social policy, and community and organizational leadership. Her research focuses on maltreatment of infants and toddlers; early care and education for foster children; and racial/ethnic disparities in child welfare involvement. =
The second day started off with keynote speaker Dr. Deborah Bergeron, Director of the Office of Head Start. She has spent three decades in pre-K–12 public education as a classroom teacher and elementary and high school administrator. In the course of her career, Bergeron also started, grew, and ultimately sold her own educational services company.
Elizabeth Philipose, Ph. D. a meditation teacher, scholar, and speaker, keynoted the closing session, “The Frequency of Peace in Our Classrooms and the World,” which presented techniques to activate whole-soul creativity and dynamic wellbeing for individuals, couples, schools, workplaces, and organizations.
Designed to celebrate the different cultures, traditions and practices that are reflected in the modern family, this conference shows participants how to use the strengths and attributes of culture to aid a child’s own successful walk through the world.
Among topics covered in 2018 were strengthening family financial literacy; cultivating a welcoming and inclusive environment; support literacy at home; increasing family engagement after birth; and advocating for migrant and seasonal families.
Opening the General Session was Daniel Goya, Program Director, Partners in Development, a foundation that inspires and equips families and communities for success and service using timeless Native Hawaiian values and traditions. Goya spoke about calling the community to work and repair early education systems.
The second day keynote address was by Dr. Deborah Bergeron, Director of the Office of Head Start. During her tenure as a school administrator, she specialized in school improvement. Her focus was on academic achievement and school climate. Bergeron used her experience as an elementary principal and her strong background in pre-K–12 instructional leadership to provide unique insights into how Head Start can support our most vulnerable children to become school ready.
The closing keynote speaker, Dr. Karen Mapp, a senior lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the faculty director of the Education Policy and Management Master’s Program. Over the past 20 years, Mapp’s research and practice focus has been on the cultivation of partnerships among families, community members and educators that support student achievement and school improvement. She shared what is known about the powerful impact of effective family–school partnerships on students, parents, teachers, and schools.
In this conference, nationally and internationally known practitioners, researchers, and motivational speakers share their knowledge, to teach about parent engagement through the lens of cultural awareness. They covered topics that ranged from food security to engaging families with multiple traumas in mental health. The central focus was cultural awareness and using a family’s unique cultural experiences as an entryway to learning and engagement with presentations such as families learning through cultural experiences; discovering and appreciating the diverse expressions of our shared humanity; opening doors to opportunity, and increasing health literacy of families to promote positive health outcomes.
The conference’s opening keynote address was on implicit bias, presented by Dr. Walter S. Gilliam, Director of The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy and Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine.
Venus Rosete-Mederos opened the second day with a keynote address “Culture, Community, Family.” Rosete-Mederos is a family and community advocate with a pioneering spirit, having worked with non-profit organizations, government agencies, and private/public school systems. She founded several community grassroots initiatives such as the Neighborhood Place of Wailuku, a family strengthening agency, helping to prevent child abuse and neglect; and the Valley Isle Keiki Fest, a free educational family event that now occurs annually under the leadership of the Valley Isle Kiwanis Club.
Silvia Esqueda led the closing session key, “Parent Voices/Parent Choices, which also included Head Start parents Tameka Henry, Sona Rubenian, and Alexis Kahue. Esqueda is a bilingual/bicultural licensed therapist, who has worked for more than 16 years with Latino parents and their children. She is the national lead facilitator for Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors program and a consultant for multiple non-profit organizations. She is a trainer, conference speaker, and writer of Latino immigrant issues as it relates to education and mental health.
I have been to management workshops, not leadership training. This has totally changed my perspective and encouraged me to propel forward in developing my skills.
I am honored and humbled to be a recipient of the Region 9 Head Start Association’s Legacy Scholarship. The scholarship helped me get one step closer to achieving my goal of becoming a Head Start Director.
I took part in The disproportionate impact of COVID 19, and how to provide “real” support for black/brown children and families and I just want to say this was an amazing webinar. I hope we can look forward to further conversation on this topic.
Thank you so much for making events like this! I really enjoyed and learned so much teaching strategies to implement STEM in the classroom.
The HR Network was an excellent opportunity to network and learn the best practices from other HR professionals within Head Start programs. You will be amazed by the level of talent and experience of the participants.
The Summer Camp training was powerful and inspiring! Each presenter was very engaging, it’s hard to even pick a favorite session!
The Leadership Challenge training was very relevant to my work as a Head Start leader! Great facilitation; stayed with the program yet allowed time for individual and small group reflections.
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