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Virtual FTF Early Childhood Summit 2020 triples conference attendance

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This year’s First Things First Early Childhood Summit 2020 welcomed almost 5,000 attendees for a day of online learning and support for early child care professionals weathering the effects of COVID-19. 

The 4,981 attendees of the Sept. 1 virtual conference tripled the number of people compared to last year’s in-person FTF Early Childhood Summit.

FTF Chief Executive Officer Marilee Dal Pra kicked off the summit by welcoming attendees with opening remarks and encouraging words to those working in the child care field before introducing featured speaker Rachel Wagner.

Wagner, a national speaker and author, presented four memorable and effective steps for addressing difficult behaviors in children. The steps, from her book, FLIP IT! Transforming Challenging Behavior, are summarized in the mnemonic FLIP that stands for (Feelings, Limits, Inquiries and Prompts). Wagner said she created the easy-to-remember steps to help caregivers in stressful situations.

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In continuing with the theme of reducing stress, Molly Strothkamp from Southwest Human Development presented in her morning breakout session on how to help child care professionals communicate with families and children in ways to help them through the pandemic. In the afternoon block, Claire Louge from Prevent Child Abuse Arizona offered techniques for managing personal stress levels. 

Eddie Basha Award
Yearly, FTF honors one FTF regional partnership council from its 28 regions on exemplary work. This year, FTF Chief Regional Officer Kim VanPelt and Brandon Basha, eldest grandson of the Basha family, presented the FTF Phoenix North Regional Partnership Council with the Eddie Basha Regional Partnership Council Excellence Award for Leadership and Service for their work in boosting access to nutritious food in their region. FTF Phoenix North Region Council Chair Wendy Resnik accepted the award for the regional council.

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Spotlight on literacy
Literacy took center stage in the afternoon session as David Dickinson from Vanderbilt University shared his latest research on new techniques to engage children in building a larger vocabulary.

More literacy tips, at-home tools and resources for supporting language and early literacy development were shared during “Empowering Families to Support Early Literacy Success During COVID-19” presented by Terri Clark from Read On Arizona, Nicol Russell from Teaching Strategies, Lori Masseur from the Arizona Department of Education and Jenny Volpe from Make Way for Books.

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Additional highlights
Other highlights from the Summit included this year’s Lanna Flood Memorial Address given by Rhonda Etsitty from the Association for Supportive Child Care, Martha Guy from Head Start and Elizabeth Garcia from Cocopah Project LAUNCH, which explored how early childhood providers are continuing to provide services to young children and families in tribal communities in the midst of restrictions and COVID-19 outbreaks.

Other sessions covered topics on health and safety, effective communication and systems building.

If you missed the summit or a specific session, all session recordings will be posted to for anyone wanting to view the information.

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