Top four takeaways from the 2019 Educare Learning Network Meeting

Staff from 23 Educare schools—from Seattle to Maine— plus research partners, funders and parents convened in Lincoln, Nebraska on April 16-18 to explore early learning strategies at the 2019 Educare Learning Network Meeting. The annual meeting is an opportunity to connect, collaborate and celebrate accomplishments.

This year’s meeting was hosted by Educare Lincoln, and focused on Diversity and Inclusion. The week was full of valuable takeaways, including:

1. Diversity and inclusion are critical and must be intentional

During the opening plenary session, keynote speaker Marjorie Kostelnik implored that “inclusion is more than just opening the door, it is active, intentional, respectful and more importantly it is co-created.” Diversity is not just a checklist, it is understanding how people’s cultural experiences have influenced how they think about themselves and others. We were glad to bring forward such an important topic to ground our discussions at this Network Meeting and will continue to champion this difficult work to ensure that every child has a chance to thrive.

2. Connections are powerful

Connections form the foundation of quality early learning programs – from the nurturing relationships between children and caregivers to the support that teachers, parents, school staff and partner organizations provide each other. Through sessions and time for networking, the meeting highlighted the importance of collaboration and working together. “This Network is a gem.” said Jessie Rasmussen, president, Buffett Early Childhood Fund, “We have so much more that we are going to do together for this country.”

3. Continuous learning is essential

Learning and innovation help early childhood practitioners, staff and parents improve practices so they can better serve young children and families. “At Educare, we demonstrate that high-quality early childhood education changes lives,” said Cynthia Jackson, executive director, Educare Learning Network. As part of a learning Network, Educare teachers, staff and parents are committed to continuous improvement to drive change for young children and families across the country. This year, thanks to the generous Red Nose Day Fund grant, we were able to bring our lead teachers along to participate in this great learning opportunity that is the Network Meeting. The strategies our teachers learned at the meeting will help make a big impact on the children and families we serve each day.

4. Informed decision making is key

From family engagement to classroom quality to attendance, Network Meeting attendees discussed the meaning and importance of data. They also explored how early learning teachers, staff and parents can use data to strengthen child and family outcomes and how sharing data and best practices can be a powerful way to improve early childhood education.

For more takeaways from the meeting, follow #EducareMeeting on Twitter and check out photos from the meeting: