The second annual Nebraska Young Child Institute (NYCI) conference was held June 26-27, 2018, in Kearney, Nebraska. NYCI is a state-wide conference for multidisciplinary professionals to connect on issues to improve outcomes for young children. The conference focused on addressing the needs of young children and their families from prevention to intervention. Collaboratively planned by eight sponsoring agencies including Nebraska Children, the conference featured 40 breakout sessions and was attended by more than 600 participants, including judges, attorneys, caseworkers, Guardian ad Litems, Early Development Network services coordinators, home visitors, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), mental health providers, and other early childhood professionals.
NYCI highlighted the existing early childhood efforts currently underway and honored past accomplishments with a timeline of historical events that have contributed to the recognition that our youngest citizens need ongoing support. NYCI was kicked off on Tuesday by emcee Judge Douglas Johnson of Douglas County Separate Juvenile Court, with welcoming comments by Marjorie Kostelnik, PhD. Following the welcoming remarks, Linda Gilkerson, Ph.D., Director of the Irving B. Harris Infant Studies Program and Executive Director of Fussy Baby Network, gave an opening plenary call “Reflective Practice: Looking at Our Work from the Inside Out.” During lunch on day one, Amy Bunnell from the Nebraska Department of Education presented “Nebraska’s Accomplishments for our Youngest Citizens.” The presentation highlighted how much work has been accomplished in the state around early childhood topics. The morning plenary on day two featured Rosemarie Allen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Metro State University and CEO for the Institute for Racial Equity & Excellence on Implicit Bias and Preschool Suspension, speaking on that topic.
NYCI attendees chose from a large and diverse selection of breakout sessions from six tracks: impact of trauma on the developing child, young child development, legal representation, maximizing the juvenile court system for young children, evidence-based practices for at-risk young children, and early education. Of the 40 breakout sessions offered, Nebraska Children staff and contractors presented eight sessions on a variety of topics, including attachment, early childhood screening and assessment, Sixpence, statewide home visiting initiatives, quality child care, Circle of Security-Parenting, social-emotional development of young children, Pyramid 101, Parents Interacting with Infants (PIWI), and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT).
A closing plenary was presented by Victor Rivas Rivers, film star, best-selling author, and renowned advocate for violence prevention and for young children who have been victims of domestic and child abuse. All in all, the event was well attended and offered lots of insights, encouragement, and calls to action that will impact attendees in the year to come.
More information about the Nebraska Young Child Institute can be found at https://www.neyoungchildinstitute.com.