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3rd Annual Early Childhood Summit on "A Revolutionary Approach to Inclusion in an Age of Accountability"

Monday, July 18, 2016

Dining hall filled with people attending a summit event

After 25 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 40 years of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and 50 years of Head Start, are we any closer to realizing inclusion as a right for all? Are we any closer to meeting the diverse needs of our youngest citizens? 

These were questions attendees at the third annual Early Childhood Summit recently in Keystone raised.

 About 100 early childhood professionals recently spent time "re-imagining," "reinventing," and "re-birthing" ideas to ensure meaningful and inclusive practices for young children at the annual summit, which is a collaboration between University of Northern Colorado (UNC), Colorado Department of Education (CDE), Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and Head Start Collaboration Office. This event is organized by Bresnahan-Halstead Center at UNC in partnership with CDE Preschool, and the Early Intervention Colorado and Head Start Collaboration Office at CDHS. The previous two summits were held in Vail and focused on language, early literacy and family engagement, and social emotional development.

Attendees had the opportunity to learn from and engage with Dr. Kristie-Pretti Frontczak, who spent 16 years on the faculty of Kent State University and now trains and coaches early educators worldwide through her company, B2K Solutions℠, Ltd. Dr. Pretti-Frontczak is a past president of the Division for Early Childhood and works with intentness and determination to sort through the clutter and chaos to join seemingly disparate ideas. She also aims to celebrate differences and shared attributes to achieve solutions, the latest being a K-Readiness Toolkit with helpful blog posts.

Additionally, a panel that included speakers from Lil People Learning Center, Catholic Charities Early Childhood Program, Denver Children’s Museum, Colorado Libraries and CDE, highlighted community initiatives that support young children with disabilities and their families.

The speakers described elements and characteristics of quality inclusion in all early childhood settings that serve children from birth through age 5 and shared tools and strategies that will enable professionals to help children with disabilities to have and access needed supports in early childhood settings.

Two additional goals of the summit were to facilitate collaboration among various early childhood professionals and stakeholders and to stimulate and sustain an intellectual community by encouraging participants to think, discuss and plan for effective use of these quality inclusive practices and to build a community of learners.

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