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Effectively Investing in Early Childhood Development: Major International Conference

Research shows that the quality of care in the first years in a child's life is crucial in ensuring the child's later success, quality of life, and ability to contribute to society as a responsible citizen. Therefore, effective investments in early years programs are essential in building future human and social capital of every country.

To explore integrated approaches to early childhood development (ECD) as the strongest foundation for well-being and success throughout life, more than 300 early childhood practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and NGO activists from more than 70 countries from Europe and around the world will convene in Bucharest, Romania 14-17 October 2009, at the international conference Seeds of Change: Effective Investments in Early Childhood for Enduring Social Progress.” 

The conference will be hosted by the International Step by Step Association (ISSA), a leading network of ECD professionals and organizations primarily from Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The event is co-hosted by the Center for Education and Professional Development, Romania, under the patronage of the President of Romania, H. E. Traian Basescu. The conference is organized in partnership with and with support from the Open Society Institute, and also with the technical support and participation of UNICEF CEE/CIS and the Romanian Ministry of Education, Research and Innovation.

Building on the increasing prominence of early childhood education and care in European policy agendas, this exciting and prestigious international event will focus on integrating research into practice, learning from recent important findings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, economics, and education.  It will also emphasize links between ECD and economics in the short- and long-term perspective, analyzing current investments and their impact on young children and their families.  Participants will work together to develop a leadership agenda on how to create a global village where all children can reach their full potential.

The conference will also mark the celebration of ISSA’s 10th Anniversary. Special attention will be devoted to ISSA's growing network of members and partners from the region and from around the globe, especially noting their successes over the past ten years in creating and implementing child-centered pedagogy, respect for diversity, and access to quality education for every child.

ISSA welcomes to the conference a diverse roster of distinguished keynote speakers whose inspirational speeches will address the issue of early years education from many different angles: James J. Hackman, (via video), Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor in Economics; Director of the Economics Research Center, Department of Economics; and Director of the Center for Social Program Evaluation, Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies and The College at University of Chicago (USA); Peter Moss, Professor of Early Childhood Provision, Institute of Education, University of London (UK); Nathan A. Fox, Distinguished Professor, Department of Human Development, University of Maryland (USA); John Bennett, Visiting Research Fellow, Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education; Former UNESCO and OECD early childhood policy analyst (France); Stuart Shanker, D Phil (Oxon), Director, the Milton & Ethel Harris Research Initiative, Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy, Pscychology, & Education; Director, The Canada-Mexico-Cuba Research Initiative; Co-Director, The Council of Human Development; Past President, The Council of Early Childhood Development (USA); Ene Tomberg, Deputy Head of Tallinn City Government Social Welfare and Health Board; Board Member of the Estonian Union for Child Welfare; Board Member, Eurochild (Estonia); and Emily Vargas-Baron, Director, The Rise Institute (USA).

ISSA also welcomes the following Plenary Speakers: Tunde Kovac Cerovic, State Secretary, Ministry of Education of the Government of the Republic of Serbia; Aleksandra Jovic, ECD Specialist, UNICEF (Serbia); Mihaela Ionescu, Consultant, Early Learning and Development Standards Program, UNICEF (Romania); Aurora Ailincai, Project Manager, DGIV - Directorate of Education and Languages, Council of Europe (France); Magda Matache, Executive Director, Romani CRISS (Romania).

The Conference will be preceded on 14 October by a high level policy roundtable: Investing in Early Childhood: the most effective use of a nation's resources. For more information about the roundtable, please visit

A full program of the event and more information about the organizers can be found on the conference website: Media representatives are invited to attend conference sessions and to contact the conference organizers for additional information. Opportunities for interviews with keynote speakers and representatives from ISSA will also be available.

For further information please contact Eva Izsak at: +36-30-3535433 (International Media – English or Hungarian)  or Roxana Avram: +031702929 (Romanian Media).



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