Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

As we wrote here, the annual national conference for NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children) is coming up, November 20th to the 23rd, 2013, in Washington, DC.

Part of the conference is a special event: “Visit with Your U.S. Senators.”

“Imagine 1,000 Early Childhood Professionals Meeting with Members of Congress on the Same Day,” an NAEYC web page says.

And fortunately, now that the federal government has opened back up, early educators will be able to make this visit.

The event, scheduled for Wednesday, November 20th, will be “a unique opportunity for you as an NAEYC member to meet with your U.S. Senators. Join your state team and share your story about the importance of high quality early childhood education and how to make it a reality for all children,” the web page explains.

Why? “Senators need to hear real stories about the impact of their policy decisions on the children and early childhood programs in your state.”

NAEYC members will meet their Senators in state teams “to discuss federal funding and policies for child care, Head Start, K-3 and higher education quality and access.”

As NAEYC’s website notes, federal funds affect early educators, young children, families, and a range of programs, including:

– Early Head Start and Head Start

– The subsidies that help families pay for child care

– Children who receive early intervention or special education services

– Nutrition programs that provide healthy food for children and adults

– T.E.A.C.H. grants (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education) that provide scholarships for students who plan to become teachers

Some 75 percent of “public dollars in birth-to-five early childhood education come from the federal budget,” NAEYC reminds members.

“The day begins with a briefing at the Washington, D.C. Convention Center from 8:30am-10:00am. Buses will depart for U.S. Senate visits immediately following the briefing.”

The pre-visit briefing is required, so is registration. Interested NAEYC members can register here. The deadline is Monday, November 4th, 2013. And the registration fee is $15.

November 20th is also Universal Children’s Day, according to the United Nations. And it “marks the day on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989,” the U.N.’s website says.

In 1954, the U.N.’s General Assembly recommended that, “the Day was to be observed also as a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world.”

And “In 2012,” the website continues, “the Secretary-General launched a new initiative Education First. The Initiative aims to raise the political profile of education, strengthen the global movement to achieve quality education and generate additional and sufficient funding through sustained advocacy efforts.”

NAEYC’s event dovetails well with this international effort. So join NAEYC in continuing to make history by advocating for children.

As the 2001 report of the Secretary General to the World Summit for Children says, “We were all children once. And we all share the desire for the well-being of our children, which has always been and will continue to be the most universally cherished aspiration of humankind.”

Stay tuned for additional posts on NAEYC’s national conference in the coming weeks.