Early Childhood Experts Discuss Workforce Strengthening, Role of Fathers and More at 'Back to School' Event

September 17, 2015Duncan McCullough

September marks the return to school for students around the world. It is also the month when global leaders will meet to formally adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, and set the course for the international development framework through 2030.

Recognizing this critical juncture, Results for Development (R4D) was excited to celebrate the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s (BvLF) 50 years of work in early childhood by hosting the inaugural event at R4D’s new offices.

The event titled 'Back to School with Early Childhood Matters' was coordinated in conjunction with BvLF and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). R4D’s President and Managing Director of Education, David de Ferranti and Nicholas Burnett, respectively, opened things up before quickly turning to the excellent panel presentations from Michelle Neuman (R4D), Kavita Hatipoglu (R4D), Margaret Greene (Promundo) and Sara Watson (ReadyNation). Joan Lombardi, a global leader in early childhood and a BvLF Fellow moderated the proceedings with the passion and insights her peers have come to expect from her.
BvLF has worked within the early childhood field for 50 years, but the focus of this event was on the present and future. R4D’s Neuman and Hatipoglu presented their findings from Global Pains and Growing Pains, a chapter within the BvLF’s publication: A Good Start: Advances in Early Childhood Development. The two authors explained that despite progress in many early childhood areas, major challenges in access, quality at scale, and strengthening the early care workforce remain. 
Margaret Greene shed light on other emerging early childhood themes, including the roles of fathers as caregivers. Fathers’ roles in early childhood are often overlooked, and represent a potentially fruitful area for increased attention from funders, practitioners, and advocates alike. After Greene’s presentation, Sara Watson shared insights on the rise of private sector champions in early childhood. There is a strong business case for improving and expanding early childhood initiatives, and it’s a case for which ReadyNation is finding an increasingly receptive private-sector audience.
The fascinating panel presentation led to a forthright, interactive question and answer session that appeared to facilitate some promising new relationships. In her concluding remarks, Rhian Evans Allvin, Executive Director of NAEYC gave voice to the widely shared notion that early childhood advocates will be well served in the future by thinking beyond borders and across traditional development sectors in order to achieve the kind of large-scale progress young boys and girls around the globe so badly need.

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Duncan McCullough is a Communications Associate at the Center for Education Innovations, proud Masters graduate of George Mason University, and former White House Staffer.
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