Call for Proposals: ISSA Conference Program 2024

Deadline Date: April 22, 2024

Donor Name: International Step by Step Association (ISSA)

Grant Size: Not Available

ISSA Conference 2024 co-hosts and partners invite those interested to submit proposals for presentations, workshops, and sessions that align with this year’s theme: It Takes an Early Childhood Ecosystem for All Young Children to Thrive.

ISSA Conferences are a unique platform to listen to the world’s leading Early Childhood experts, an opportunity to learn from your peers, but also to share the knowledge and experience you have gained. ISSA unites researchers, practitioners and policymakers from around the world. Together, they explore themes through discussion and interactive sessions, and they share lessons learned and proven solutions from which you will benefit instantly. As always, there will be a rich and diverse offer of one-day pre-conference workshops and site visits for you to choose from, alongside conference sessions.

Theme: It Takes an Early Childhood Ecosystem for All Young Children to Thrive

This year’s theme recognizes that they live in disruptive and increasingly challenging times where the concern for protecting and asserting the importance of safe, healthy, and happy childhoods is more pressing than ever. Recent years, especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing with economic downturns and devastating consequences of wars, have clearly demonstrated how rapidly changes are occurring, exposing vulnerabilities not only in societies but also in early childhood systems.

Through its strands, the theme of ISSA 2024 Conference invites discussion on:

  • What changes in early childhood systems are demanded by the contexts in which they are living?
  • Which policies and programs have been transformative and initiated systemic changes at local, country, regional level that improve the quality of childhoods?
  • What system changes are required to address acute or emerging issues, for which solutions still need to be identified, researched, and developed?

Conference Strands

  • Strand 1: Speaking out for systemic change
    • Young children have the right to optimal conditions for their healthy and well-rounded development, regardless of their birthplace. Yet, across countries, many children do not benefit from quality environments and support at home, in communities and in early childhood services, which reflects an insufficient prioritization for early years in strategic investment and the systemic implementation of policies and service support. The most impacted include children living in poverty, Roma children, children with special needs/with disabilities, refugee/migrant children, children experiencing war or conflicts.
    • However, the effectiveness and sustainability of these changes hinge on the ability to clearly articulate answers to crucial questions such as:
      • What systemic changes are necessary to enhance young children’s childhood experiences?
      • What are the factors that hinder the efforts to improve the early childhood systems and how can they be addressed?
  • Strand 2: Moving towards systemic change
    • Across countries, across early childhood sectors and stakeholders, there are ongoing efforts to inform systemic changes through transformative policies and programs targeting children, families, the early childhood workforce, policy makers, leaders, among others.
      • What examples of local or national policies and programs have contributed to improving the quality of childhood at home, in communities, in early childhood services for young children, especially the most vulnerable ones, and have informed or could inform systemic changes?
      • Which policies and programs targeting young children and their families have successfully (or unsuccessfully) improved the quality of early childhood services, including education, care, health, and social protection, and what lessons can they learn to ensure systemic and effective change?
  • Strand 3: Deliberating about systemic change
    • Societies are undergoing unprecedented changes, presenting significant challenges in safeguarding the rights and opportunities for young children to thrive. Rising inequalities and poverty, diminishing democratic values and practices, ongoing conflicts, wars, migration, increased mobility, extreme diversity, climate change, and the digitalization of life stand out as critical issues shaping the political and societal discourse. These challenges have profound implications for early childhood systems’ ability to protect and promote the safe and healthy development and well-being of children.
      • What approaches can address today’s unresolved and escalating challenges, guiding relevant changes in early childhood systems across countries?
      • How can they foster closer dialogue among policy making, research and program development/implementation to ensure the co-creation of timely and effective solutions for young children, now and in the future?

Why present at ISSA Conference 2024?

  • ISSA’s conferences, attracting over 400 participants from more than 50 countries, offer an unparalleled platform to explore themes of early childhood development, fostering a shared understanding and collaborative approach to the challenges and opportunities ahead.
  • This year’s conference will take place in Sofia, Bulgaria on 23 & 24 October 2024. It will be preceded by a diverse range of pre-conference workshops, taking place in parallel on 22 October, and optional site visits and sightseeing tours will be organized on 25 October. The conference will also mark ISSA’s 25th anniversary as a learning community devoted to Early Childhood Development, and the 30th anniversary of the Open Society Foundations’ Step by Step Program, upon whose legacy and resulting network ISSA continues to build.

For more information, visit International Step by Step Association (ISSA).

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