June 3-5, 2024
For the first time since the pandemic, Region 9 Head Start Association delivered its annual First 1,000 Days! Early Head Start Conference in person! The conference was hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada from August 1-3. This year’s conference theme was “Resilient Together, Responsive Together, Rebuilding Together”. This theme was explored through four different tracks: wellness, teaching and learning, environments, and leadership. These tracks were explored through general sessions, learning labs, and breakout sessions.
Day 1 featured a variety of learning labs for attendees that further explored the conference theme and tracks. Learning labs provide attendees with the opportunity to learn and then practice. Julie Kurtz— CEO and founder of the Center for Optimal Brain Integration led two learning labs. The first was “Trauma-Responsive and Healing Engaged Practices for Young Children Post-Pandemic” and the second was “Becoming My Own Emergency First Responder in Times of Stress”, both explored the theme through the wellness track.
The teaching and learning track was explored through the learning lab “Supporting Infant/Toddler Dual Language Learners” which was led by Paulina Escamilla-Vestal — Regional Coordinator for the Program for Infant/Toddler Care at WestEd, and Consuelo Espinosa — Program Associate II at WestEd.
Day 2 of the conference kicked off with a general session hosted by keynote speaker, Tricia Bookhart, HR Manager, Nevada Gaming Control Board. Bookhart has 25 years of experience working in the human resource field and appreciates opportunities to empower and encourage people through word presentation. Her Keynote addresses, “The Real, The Rest and The Reboot: Focus on being Resilient Together, Responsive Together, Rebuilding Together.”
Tricia Bookhart’s presentation explored the real, the rest, and the reboot which highlights resilience, response, and rebuilding. She explains how none of them are possible unless done together. Bookhart’s presentation unpacked strategies necessary for being successful in the assertion and application of our commitment. She left attendees with the goal to depart with confidence in communication, direction in motivation, and commitment to the destination.
Day 3 of the conference opened with keynote speaker, Gina Cook, psychology, and child development professor at CSU Stanislaus. Cook currently serves as a consultant to Early Head Start and Head Start programs. She has over 25 years of work and research experience in the field of home visits and early education. Cook presented on “Working with Families: Connection, Confidence, Reflection, & Communication.”
Cook’s session focused on Head Start’s two-generational approach and provided practitioners with strategies to encourage parents to take on the role of being their child’s first and best teacher. Cook guided attendees to assess their self-reflection skills and built off participants’ self-reflection to be a tool to aid them when working with parents. She also emphasized the importance of communicating with parents with both courage and curiosity.
For the second year, Region 9 Head Start Association presented online the 2021 First 1,000 Days! Early Head Start Conference. With the theme “Nurturing You, Nurturing Them,” the three-day conference offered four tracks: Wellness, Teaching and Learning, Environments and Leadership. The keynotes and educational sessions targeted center-based, family child care and home visiting.
Day 1 opened with former judge Jim Tamm as the General Session speaker, an expert in building collaborative workplace environments. With 40 years’ experience in the field of alliance building and conflict resolution, he spoke on “Workplace Wellness—Building Culture of Radical Collaboration.”
As a senior administrative law Judge for the state of California for 25 years, Tamm mediated more than 1,000 employment disputes. In his keynote presentation, Tamm described how individuals can become more knowledgeable about the skills they need to create more collaborative environments and relationships.
Day 1’s closing General Session featured Martha J. Bailey, professor of economics at U.C.L.A. and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She has written numerous articles and co-edited two books, Legacies of the War on Poverty and A Half Century of Change in the Lives of American Women. Her presentation “Social Impact—Head Start: Changing Lives, Saving Public Funds” reported on the largest, long-term evaluation of Head Start’s effects in changing its participants’ lives.
Bailey’s talk described how Head Start raises completed education, college enrollment and college completion. Adults who participated in Head Start, she noted, are significantly less likely to live in poverty and less likely receive public assistance as adults. Furthermore, cost-benefit estimates show that funding Head Start generated revenue—rather than costs—for the federal government in the long run.
At the Day 2 Opening General Session, Adrienne L. Edwards, Ph.D., assistant professor and program director of Human Development and Family Studies at Winthrop University, reported on the growing area of science that studies how identities such as race, gender, disability, immigrant status, sexual orientation and geographic location intersect to influence how individuals grow and develop over time and across different domains of development.
Her presentation, “Equity & Inclusion—Putting Intersectional Developmental Science into Practice with Infants, Toddlers, and Families” covered how Early Head Start professionals can develop a knowledge base in intersectional developmental science as it relates to young children and families. Dr. Edwards provided participants with organizing strategies to create environments that represent the intersectional nature of child development, supporting child agency, and practice self-reflexivity. Following the keynote address, a learning lab was held that provided multiple, guided opportunities to think critically about and practice concepts related to the self-reflexivity.
Award-winning author Stella Pope Duarte, a former Head Start teacher, energized the audience as the keynote speaker of Day 2’s Closing General Session. Hailed by critics as a “major, literary voice in America,” Duarte is called by reviewers as a “magical weaver with a sure hand and a pure heart,” and an author who “will enlarge humanity.” Her works include Fragile Night; Let Their Spirits Dance.
Her presentation “Power of Culture—Telling New Stories: The Legacy of Head Start” showed how narrative helps shape the lives of children and parents. Noting that children are natural storytellers, Steel said they begin to collect daily information from their environments, and often these experiences become the stories they tell and remember. She also described the power of books and reading, remembering childhood trips to check out books from Phoenix libraries. “Words danced inside my head. There is creative power in children who read!”
Motivational speaker Jean Steel closed out the second day with a Happy Hour chat, “Happy People Win,” which reinforced this year’s conference theme of “Nurturing You, Nurturing Them.” She has a master’s degree in wellness, mind, body and health.
Achieving a positive state of well-being, Steel said is a matter of understanding the integration, balance and harmony of an individual’s mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual self. She spoke about self-responsibility, looking at the bright side, finding your passion, gratitude and having a zest for living—which includes appreciating the good things in our life that we most often take for granted and recognizing the perfect moments in our lives.
Opening Day 3, General Session speaker Bridget A. Walsh, Ph.D., CFLE, presented “Continuous Quality Improvement—Transforming Early Head Start Home Visiting: A Family Life Education and Family Life Coaching Approach.” Dr. Walsh is grounded in early child education from work as a preschool teacher and then later in her career conducting studies in Head Start to determine how young children learn new words, particularly dual language learners. She is now professor of human development and family science at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Currently working on projects on Early Head Start home visitors and home visitor wellbeing, Dr. Walsh’s presentation focused on the common ground between EHS family life education and family life coaching, with well-being as a primary outcome. Providing an understanding of the basic tenets of family life education and family life coaching, she discussed promoting home visitors’ well-being and practice strategies that professionals can use to demonstrate that transformation starts within.
The third day of the conference closed with the General Session presentation “Early Head Start RISING!” by two of the profession’s notable voices, Office of Head Start Deputy Director Dr. Deborah Bergeron and Director of State Affairs, National Head Start Association, Kent Mitchell.
Dr. Bergeron and Mitchell detailed efforts of the new campaign, Early Head Start RISING! Due to increased funding by Congress, access to Early Head Start is rising, they said now is the time to expand Early Head Start further, especially to support the low-income communities and communities of color hit hardest by the pandemic. The session covered why Early Head Start is so important to our nation’s future, what the EHS community needs to do to prepare for higher levels of Early Head Start enrollment, and how to advocate for expansion and support in Congress and in your region.
Due to Covid-19, the 2020 conference went online in 2020. With the Region 9 HSA’s association-wide theme of “Stay Connected, Stay Invested,” the event theme highlighted capacity-building activities for responding to and advancing in the face of adversity.
A rich and balanced curriculum featured four content tracks: Early Head Start Center Based, Home Visiting, Family Child Care, and Leadership. Each track offered a selection of 12 education sessions over the course of the conference. In addition, pre-conference, deep learning sessions, general session keynotes, networking, and an afterglow event for attendees and their families were held.
The keynote address “Research to Practice” on Day 1 was presented by Debra Pacchiano, Ph.D., a vice president of translational research at the Ounce of Prevention Fund. An educational psychologist, she focuses on early childhood intervention and education settings. She served previously as a special education administrator in a large, public school system.
Day 2 keynote presentation was “Voices from the States Panel” with Camille Maben and Marilee Dal Pra. Maben is Executive Director of First 5 California, a role she held since 2012. She is responsible for staffing the California Children and Families Commission, in addition to directing the work of the agency and its staff. Maben has served on the Rocklin Unified School District for more than 20 years.
Dal Pra is Chief Executive Officer for First Things First. Prior to joining FTF, she was Vice President for Programs at Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, where she led the foundation’s community initiatives and strategic program development, including being a driving force behind efforts such as Read On Arizona, the state’s third-grade reading initiative.
Day 3’s keynote session “The Power of Kindness” by husband-and-wife team Jason and Kim Kotecki. Jason Kotecki is an artist, author. He is the author of five books, including Penguins Can’t Fly +39 Other Rules That Don’t Exist. In 2005, Jason and his wife Kim co-founded The Cure Adultitis Institute, a mission-based organization focused on the awareness and early detection of Adultitis.
The Closing Session address “Call to Action for the Babies” was presented by David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition. He is the former executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, which works across federal agencies and with partners and communities nationwide to produce a more effective continuum of education programs for African American students.
Region 9 HSA launched this EHS event in 2019. This new conference focused on supporting Early Head Start, Home Visitors, Family Child Care Partners, and all professionals who work on the development of children and families, during the first three years of life.
The three-day conference featured opening keynote speaker Julie Kurtz, M.S., with a presentation on Growing Human(e) Beings: A Job of Superheroes. Kurtz is the co-author of Trauma-Informed Practices for Early Childhood Educators: Relationship-Based Approaches that Support Healing and Build Resilience in Young Children. She is the creator of the APP for children 3-8 years old to promote sensory and emotional literacy and to support self-regulation called Trigger Stop: Sensory and Emotional Check-in designed specifically for Android tablets.
Closing keynote speaker Dr. Ross Thompson, an internationally recognized authority on the psychological development of young children, presented “How to Think Like a Baby.” Thompson is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis, where he directs the Social and Emotional Development Lab. He offered attendees an understanding of toddlers’ developing brain with early experiences in both typical and at-risk children.
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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