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2013 Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference Set for March 1-2 at Colorado Convention Center

Early Learning Researcher Dr. Patricia Kuhl and Hearing-Impaired Comedienne Kathy Buckley to Be Keynote Speakers

DENVER, CO -- (Marketwire) -- 12/13/12 -- The Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children, Colorado Head Start Association, Denver Preschool Program, and Early Childhood Education Association of Colorado are collaborating to sponsor the 2013 Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference (RMECC) March 1-2 at the Colorado Convention Center.

Focused on promoting and advancing early childhood education and the interests of children birth to eight years of age, this premier regional forum will feature presentations by more than 300 thought leaders, experts and practitioners representing a wide variety of fields that impact early care and education. Conference attendees will include educators, policy makers, directors, owners and other early childhood professionals from Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Kansas and New Mexico.

"Decades of research point to the critical importance of the early years in setting up children for success in school and in life," notes conference Steering Committee Chair, Kathryn Hammerbeck, head of the Early Childhood Education Association of Colorado. "We developed this conference as a means of continuing and expanding those conversations to ensure we're doing what's best for our children at this important life stage."

Dr. Patricia Kuhl, who is internationally recognized for her research on early language and brain development and for her studies that show how young children learn, will be the keynote speaker Friday, March 1. Dr. Kuhl is the co-director of the University of Washington Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences as well as the Bezos Family Foundation Endowed Chair for Early Childhood Learning.

Billed as "America's first hearing-impaired comedienne," Kathy Buckley will be the keynote speaker at the noon luncheon on Saturday, March 2. A five-time American Comedy Award nominee as best stand-up female comedienne, star of her own award-winning PBS special "No Labels, No Limits," and the author of the heartfelt and hilarious book "If You Could Hear What I See," Buckley is a sought-after motivational speaker who delivers the inspirational message that anything can be achieved when the heart and the mind work together.

The RMECC is designed to meet the diverse needs and interests of the many professionals who work with young children and their families while also providing an opportunity for the community to gather, network and share resources. From high-level discussions to hands-on sessions, the conference's agenda is designed to effectively advance quality early care and education for all children.

The conference workshops are organized into five tracks. Focal areas and topics at the 2013 Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference will include:

Child Development and Curriculum -- Offering intriguing sessions on the full range of early child development and curriculum topics, this track is specifically designed to offer early childhood educators and administrators a rich agenda for meeting professional development and training-hours requirements. Topics covered include academic standards, arts, best practices, classroom management, curriculum approaches, dual-language learners, evidence-based strategies, guidance techniques, infant/toddler development, literacy, and science;

Family Partnerships and Systems -- Developing full support systems that can extend the learning environment to the home is a critical component in promoting children's development. This track provides parents, educators and administrators with new and innovative strategies to support the development of strong children and families. Specific topics include cultural competency and diversity, dual-language families, family support strategies, homelessness, home visitation, parenting education, parent engagement, school readiness, school-to-home support, and working with low income families;

Child/Family Health and Well-Being -- Developing a quality early care and education program must include efforts and initiatives to promote the health and wellness of the child and the family. Reducing toxic environments and promoting good nutrition and health is proven to foster brain development and a greater learning capacity. This track will provide educators and administrators with key information to support the health and wellness of all children. Topics include childhood obesity, early intervention, nutrition, oral health, physical and mental health, social emotional development, and special needs;

Leadership, Administration and Management -- Navigating child care rules and regulations, marketing your business, developing your staff, securing enrollment, and working with parents are all requirements of leadership, administration and management staff. Running a child care business is a complicated and challenging endeavor. Attend this session to get new strategies and tools to help you sustain an efficient, high quality, and profitable early care and education program. Topics in this track will address accreditation and quality measures, business solutions and technology, child care licensing rules, Head Start management, hiring practices, legal issues, marketing, organizational leadership, professional development and credentials, staff support, and working with parents;

Policy and Advocacy -- Studies have shown that children who receive high-quality early care and education are more likely to succeed in school and later life. However, the field of early care and education lacks a unified infrastructure and adequate investment to support high-quality, profitable early care and education programs. Attend workshops in this track to join policy makers and early childhood advocates in examining the critical topics facing early care and education. Topics include child advocacy, community collaborations and councils, education systems building, funding sources and strategies, research and results.

To view the RMECC program and schedule online, visit www.ecconference.com/.

Early registration discounts are available at www.ecconference.com/ before February 1, 2013.

Presenting sponsors for the 2013 Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference are The Piton Foundation, Early Learning Ventures, and the David and Laura Merage Foundation.

The inaugural RMECC took place in April 2011 and was attended by more than 2,000 stakeholders. In addition to offering 170 early childhood workshops featuring 300-plus presenters, the conference also showcased 80 exhibitors.

"Our inaugural conference in 2011 was a tremendous success, and it really put Colorado and Denver on the map as part of the national early childhood conversation," says Eileen Piper, CEO of the Denver Preschool Program. "We return this year looking to expand upon those successes with the intent of making RMECC an annual fixture on the calendars of all those advocating for these important issues."

Partnering Organizations' Profiles

The Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC) is the state affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. CAEYC is a professional membership organization that serves and acts on behalf of early childhood educators through advocacy, leadership and professional development. CAEYC promotes high quality, developmentally appropriate, accessible early childhood care and educational services for Colorado's young children.

The Colorado Head Start Association supports the work of Head Start programs and their partners with information sharing and advocacy, within the context of the early childhood system in Colorado. Since its inception in 1965, more than 20 million children and families nationally have benefited from Head Start's comprehensive services.

The Denver Preschool Program (DPP), approved by Denver voters in 2006, is a ground-breaking tax-funded initiative designed to increase Denver children's access to high-quality preschool. Now celebrating its fifth year, DPP has provided over $40 million in tuition support to help more than 25,000 Denver families send their child to the quality preschool of their choice, and independent evaluation results confirm that the vast majority of these children have left preschool prepared for kindergarten.

The Early Childhood Education Association of Colorado is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support and guidance in the management and administration of child care centers. Established in 1985, the Early Childhood Association of Colorado has become the second largest child care association in the nation and represents over 400 licensed child care centers, preschools, and school-age programs.

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