Early Childhood Advocacy Abroad

save the children

Save The Children is a US based nonprofit that targets quality of life issues for children in over 120 countries. Their work focus is on health, education and disaster/emergency relief. In the United States they manage several early childhood education programs such as Head Start in low income areas as well as other ECE models. Their web site shows 133 current openings. One opening that looks appealing is a Save the Children Action Network Field Coordinator. This role is responsible for grassroots coordination of volunteers, canvassers and college campus events. I like the idea of working so intensely within a community to spread awareness and support.

The “Organisation Mondiale pour l’Education Préscolaire” (World Organisation for Early Childhood Education and Care) aka OMEP would also be a very engaging organization to work for. The OMEP web site states its “objectives are to defend and promote the rights of the child with special emphasis on the right to education and care worldwide.” They are based out of Paris, France and appear to be an umbrella organization for multiple, transnational collaborations. Their web site is a hub for research and information relative to quality of life for children. I see that they mainly serve as an international forum for representatives from around the world to meet and discuss joint goals. I believe in order to become a member of OMEP, I must continue to grow professionally and gain authoritative knowledge and expertise within my field. I do not see opportunities to work specifically for them but volunteer as a contributor to their global efforts.


Like the agencies mentioned above, UNICEF also champions the rights of children but on a global scale. Consequently, the projects that UNICEF is leading at any given time are countless. Most of the work they do falls under the categories of Child protection and social inclusion, child survival, education, emergency relief, gender equality and research and knowledge exchange. Also unlike the two programs mentioned above, employment opportunities with UNICEF are vast- world wide, albeit many are internships. I would like to work for one of their field offices in Latin America. If I had to chose one specific country it would be Cuba. I wrote to the UNICEF office in Habana to ask them specifically what they are working on and how many people their team consists of.


national and international early childhood advocates

There are a few nationally recognized agencies that champion the rights of children that I would love to work for; The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).


The Children’s Defense Fund is advocacy and research center based out of Washington DC however, they have offices nation-wide. They host a multitude of programs, all geared towards improving the quality of life for children growing up in low socioeconomic households. They also lead coalitions within the non-profit sector of key agencies working towards similar goals. Although they are currently leading several campaigns, the Cradle to Prison Pipeline Campaign represents an initiative I feel passionate about. When perusing their web site and searching for jobs, there were only two postings nationwide. Executive Director of CDF NY and a Development officer for their national office in DC. These two positions have been posted for a few months now so I am certain that they must recruit through some other means.

Another agency whose contributions I believe to be of utter importance is NAEYC. Like the CDF, NAEYC champions the educational rights of all children. NAEYC works towards these goals on five fronts: professional development for early childhood professionals, maintaining research based high accreditation standards, public policy, professional resources through ongoing publications and three major annual events. Their web site does not provide employment opportunities to work for NAEYC specifically but it does have a job board featuring job opportunities for their members at other early childhood programs and centers nationwide.

Like the agencies mentioned above, UNICEF also champions the rights of children but on a global scale. Consequently, the projects that UNICEF is leading at any given time are countless. Most of the work they do falls under the categories of Child protection and social inclusion, child survival, education, emergency relief, gender equality and research and knowledge exchange. Also unlike the two programs mentioned above, employment opportunities with UNICEF are vast- world wide, albeit many are internships. I would like to work for one of their field offices in Latin America. If I had to chose one specific country it would be Cuba. I wrote to the UNICEF office in Habana to ask them specifically what they are working on and how many people their team consists of.

Free UNICEF Poster UN Convention on the Rights of the Child


Roles in the ECE community

Marian Edelman Wright, President Children’s Defense Fund

There are a few agencies in my community that I admire. I admire them for the work that they do and the benevolent impact they have on my community. Below are three such agencies:

The Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy

Housed within Florida State University’s Institute for Science and Public Affairs, the CPEIP is one of Florida’s most influential and effective zero to five institutions. The CPEIP is known nationally for their Partners for a Healthy Baby curriculum as well as a few others. Much of their work is in translating research into policy and practice and also making sure that their efforts trickle down to the rest of the state. Working for them would be very gratifying, professionally. The role that I would most like to fulfill for this agency is as a trainer or educator. I am a teacher first and foremost. They do not have current openings. A quick read of the bios of their personnel reveal doctorate level agents. In order to work at the administrative level at CPEIP, a doctorate level in education is more than likely necessary.

They offer ongoing webinars and interesting workshops that are free and worthy of exploration:

See here: http://www.cpeip.fsu.edu/webinars/

Florida Children’s Services Council

In 1986, Florida statute gave the authority to county based legislators to place a referendum on county elections that would allow a percentage of property taxes to be directed towards improving the lives of children and families. In counties where voters approved the measure, a percentage of property taxes are used to fund countless programs such as early childhood literacy programs, developmental screenings, Adult education and family development programs.  Today there are approximately eight CSC’s in the state of Florida with a governing agency in the state capital. The governing agency is charged with monitoring legislation that impacts quality of life for children and serve as a coordinating agency for the satellite CSC’s. A quick search of the Florida CSC’s web site reveals that the site has not been updated since 2014, however, working for my local CSC would be interesting. I am very much interested in programs that improve the quality of care children receive in childcare and preschools. I believe our local CSC would be the best avenue to impact positive growth in this area. I do not see job openings or descriptions on their web site but my current position is funded by one of their grants.

Dream Job: Children’s Defense Fund

Marian Eldeman Wright is one of my heroes. Hearing her speak is so encouraging. She reminds me that it’s not only alright to be passionate about championing the rights of children, but that I’d be wrong if I didn’t. Born out of the civil rights movement, the CDF has grown in strength and scope of the past 40 years. They champion the rights of children, especially those who are most vulnerable. The CDF is one of the loudest voices in Washington in the fight to decriminalize poverty and empower children and families of color. Not surprisingly, there were only two job openings. There are so many ways I could see myself working for CDF. I would enjoy applying everything that I have learned in the past 20 years and joining anyone of their campaigns as I feel they would all be relevant.

“the adjourning stage in group collaborations”

I had never thought about this before now, but I can only think of one time, one adjournment of a group collaboration that ended with a pervasive sadness because we did not want it to end. Mostly every other group collaboration,Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 9.34.37 PM we were participants because we had to. Participation preceded a paycheck or a grade. The event I reference above, as cheesy as it sounds, was when I worked as a residential summer camp counselor, many, many Florida moons ago. This camp was “ancient” and the foundation that ran it based a lot of their orientation training on how-to-team-work.

The entire week prior to the children arriving was all about getting to know each other, other staff and building trust. We did fun activities that included repelling off the side of a wall with someone we just met holding the harness that guaranteed your safety. We stood in candle light and silence and were told to fall backwards with the confidence that someone would catch us before we hit the ground. The majority of us became fast friends. The last week of camp was always teary with the knowledge that this little family we had created for the summer-long, would soon disperse to their own separate parts of the world. Gratefully, we were given the opportunity to engage in closing rituals, aside from the closing rituals of breaking camp for the end of summer. There were special meals, closing ceremonies and special songs devoted to our last “friendship circle.” We  exchanged numbers and addresses and some of these relationships blossomed into pen-pals in these days before social media.

Unfortunately, I have not had a consistent cohort for this program and I’ve only shared multiple classes with one or two of you. I think this is one of the advantages we deny ourselves when we devote our studies to an exclusively on-line program. There was one student I shared two classes with that actually lives only 2 hours away. One way we may share an extended connection post-graduation is through sharing ECE conferences with each other via email and possibly meeting up at one of them in between our two towns.

Navigating Conflict in the Workplace

Looking back over the years at how I’ve managed conflict at work, I can say with relief that I’ve gotten much better at it. When I was younger and just starting out in this field, if there was a conflict that made me uncomfortable at work? I just quit. I may or may not have given a 2 week notice. Then I realized what an inconvenience this was, to have to start over, not to mention be re-confronted with possibly even the same conflict as it is inevitable. One of my most recent professional conflicts, occurred between myself and a counselor that had very different training than myself. This counselor came from a behaviorist theory- devoid of human’ness camp while I come from a relationships are the bedrock of everything camp. She believed emotionally traumatized young children needed behavior charts and to be ignored when they are falling apart and a slew of other factors I viewed as ridiculous. But previous experiences taught me that although we disagreed professionally, she was still absolutely worthy of my respect as an individual and as hard as that was to maintain, we both found ways to show appreciation for one another. Even though we may have had incompatible goals, there was some overlap and we managed to keep our conflict as productive as possible. As a result, we were able to even grow from our conflict. Had either one of us been prone to taking conflict personally (TCP), we may not have been so lucky.

Strategies that helped us maintain a decent level of communication were not taking conflict personally and finding ways that we could collaborate without sacrificing our core beliefs.

Images below from The Third Side:

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a note on being a people person…

During week 4 we discussed different communication styles and took a few simple assessments to learn more about our own communication styles. One of my assessments declared that I am a “people oriented” listener. I thought that was interesting given my current job. I work for a non-profit agency that gives support services to women and infants that exhibit certain risk factors. The bulk of my work entails sitting with parents who are referred to our agency, in their homes while I tease from them their life story. In order to be successful, there is a need to be good at making “fast friends” even though I will probably never see them again. My communication style lends itself to this line of work. I know that my clients are only able to tell me their stories and their “secrets” because I approach them as their equal, never from a place of fear or condescension.

Effective Cross-Cultural Communication

I find that I do communicate a little differently across various cultures. I’ve always had a ear for languages- the tones and inflections inherent in unique dialects. My tone and voice change depending on what part of the country I am in or who I am talking to. I think it’s an adaptive strategy to try and strengthen communication. The part I struggle with is adapting to contradicting world views. I am cautious not to speak religion, sex or politics in mixed company but being that my socio-political views are so integral to my personality, I get caught in snafus from time to time.

Three strategies I could employ towards effective cross-cultural communication are asking myself where my views differ- am I being culturally myopic or ethnocentric? Where are my biases? also how can I embrace the platinum rule?

Before this week’s reading, I had never heard of the Platinum Rule, which is a variation of the Golden Rule. Simply stated Do unto other’s as they would do unto themselves or treat others the way they would prefer to be treated.  These words linger for me.  I don’t recall in the text anywhere how to handle conversation with people who suffer from cultural myopia, but I find guidance in the mantra above…

“Individuals who fail to consider other cultural perspectives are said to suffer from cultural myopia, a form of nearsightedness grounded in the belief that one’s own culture is appropriate and relevant in all situations and to all people” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2015, p. 43).  Although our world views may be incredibly different, it takes a form of higher thinking and reasoning to be okay with the possibility that other views, other realities and other people are just in their thinking in the context of their own lives. We don’t have to agree but we can treat them the way they themselves wish to be treated.


An exercise in observation

For this week’s assignment, I picked a TV show I’ve never watched before (Gilmore Girls) and watched the first 10 minutes without the sound on. Displayed was a presumably mother, an early 20s girl and adolescent girl having dinner in a formal dining room. Judging from what I observed, it appeared as if the older daughter and mother were having disagreement upon disagreement. The mother appeared to be very stoic, upset even and uptight. The older daughter seemed snarky and challenging her mother. The youngest daughter did not appear to contribute to the argument, rather seemed like a neutral presence.

After re-watching with the volume up, I realized that the older daughter and mother were not necessarily arguing but caught in a light banter or jest. The mother appears stoic and serious because her facial expressions are null and flat. The fluctuation of her vocal tone and rise and fall of her voice compensated for what her face was lacking. The older daughter was sarcastic but not necessarily combative.

This exercise was useful in reminding me that what comes out of our mouths is only 50% of what is being communicated. Everything we express be it physical or verbal contributes to the entire message and often times these two seemingly contradict one another. We should be more proactive in seeking clarification, using reflective listening and confirming what you believe you understand.

People Smarts and Effective Communicators

When I think of incredibly competent communicators, a few folks come to mind and they aren’t politicians or celebrities. I think of two women who coincidentally work in the same field. They both work for non-profits on opposite sides of the state and they both work in fundraising. They share similar characteristics that make them very effective communicators.  I have noticed that when they are speaking to someone, they always appear absolutely absorbed and interested in what the other person is saying. Their body language includes nods, empathic gestures and other signals that suggest that they are completely invested in the conversation. They sustain eye contact and share personal stories in order to build a connection with the person they are speaking to. I think they are very good at reading other people and social cues. In fact, on the wheel of Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence, both these ladies have exemplary Interpersonal Intelligence, i.e. people smarts.