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ISSA’s Conference is 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, we explore themes through discussion and interactive sessions, and we 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. The ISSA Conference 2024 will also be an occasion to celebrate ISSA’s 25th year as an association!

 

About ISSA Conference 2024

We 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.

Numerous questions need answers from everyone involved in shaping the policies and services that affect the lives of young children and their families. This includes policy makers to academics and experts, from practitioners to researchers, from governing bodies to donors. We can no longer plan, develop solutions, or make decisions without adopting a systemic approach early childhood. A multitude of interconnected factors either support or obstruct our efforts to create optimal conditions for all children to thrive, particularly in uncertain and shifting times. Stakeholders must collaboratively adopt an ecosystem perspective to address the changes needed to enhance how we care for and support young children across countries.

Through its strands, the theme of ISSA 2024 Conference is inviting all of us to jointly discuss:

  • What changes in early childhood systems are demanded by the contexts in which we 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? 

Click here to send your submission to present during a workshop or session. Read more about the conference strands below.

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. Concurrently, there is increasing recognition at the local and national levels of the main challenges that should be addressed, and, in some countries, successful steps have been taken to initiate system changes leading to better access, better quality, increased equity. However, the effectiveness and sustainability of these changes hinge on our 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 our efforts to improve the early childhood systems and how can they be addressed?
  • How can we ensure that the voices of children, families, professionals, and communities are part of the creating systemic changes so that support and solutions are relevant to their needs?
  • Are there examples of successful advocacy efforts, tools, and resources at the local, country, regional or global level that could inspire our collective efforts to prioritize early childhood across countries?

 

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 we learn to ensure systemic and effective change?
  • What initiatives have ensured the involvement of young children, their families, and communities in decisions affecting their wellbeing, and how might these inform system-level changes?
  • What policies and programs contributed to ensuring that competent and motivated professionals are employed in early childhood services and are properly recognized and supported, and can successfully inform system-level changes?

 

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 we 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?
  • What lessons can we draw from evidence and programs that have addressed the above-mentioned challenges, to inform our collective efforts to ensure quality childhoods for all young children and attuned support for their families? 

 

Co-hosts 


 

In partnership with:

 

With the support of:

The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy

The Ministry of Education and Science

The Ministry of Healthcare

The Municipality of Sofia

UNICEF