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2020 NAEYC Public Policy Forum: Perspective of a First Time Attendee

Taking place from February 23-25, this year’s NAEYC Public Policy Forum brought together 400 Early Childhood Education advocates from all over the country to Washington, DC. The first two days of the Forum provided sessions on advocacy, early childhood educators’ compensation, the 2020 Census, building and galvanizing your networking, and engaging with policymakers. DCAEYC was represented by a delegation of 10, including DCPS Research Specialist Catherine Worrell. Read about Catherine's experience as a first time attendee below.

This year was my first year attending the NAEYC Public Policy Forum and it was truly a great experience. By grouping us by state, I got to connect with other early childhood educators in the area and learn more about the work being done across DC. It was great to discover the ways in which our work can be used to support each other moving forward and develop ongoing partnerships. It was a great mix of newcomers (like me) and veteran members who have been attending the forum for several years. They welcomed us with open arms and supported us as we made the leap from educators and providers to advocates.

I was also able to expand my own understanding of early childhood through my participation in the forum. Working for the DCPS Head Start program, my exposure was largely concentrated in the 3-5 world but the forum was a great opportunity to learn more about the work being done to support 0-3 learners and families. The forum focused largely on the Child Care for Working Families Act and the ways in which public policy can be utilized to increase access to quality child care starting at birth. I also learned more about the census and the importance of supporting families in completing the surveys, [as well as] the changes to public charge and steps we can take to educate our families about what it means for them. The public charge session in particular was helpful and provided us with concrete resources that I immediately shared with my colleagues at DCPS and DCAEYC. I left with a far more comprehensive understanding of the work being done across the country to support all learners 0-5 and feel better prepared to expand that work at DCPS.

Catherine Worrell

Research Specialist

DC Public Schools

Washington DC

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