Call for Proposals

For 2020 Summit on Aug 31- Sept 1

Welcome to the call for proposals for the First Things First Early Childhood Summit 2020.

You are invited to submit your proposal! Before you begin, please review the topic area descriptions below and the proposal example to help your submission be as successful as possible. Another recommendation is to type out your submission on a separate word document as a back-up reference.

The deadline for acceptance of all proposals is 5 p.m. on Friday, March 6, 2020.

Call For Proposals Application


View a submission example

Download the proposal print application

Topic Areas

Summit breakout sessions provide participants a diverse set of topics related to early childhood development and health. Recognizing early childhood as a component of the education continuum, we encourage proposals that focus on engaging diverse/target populations, effective coordination, and alignment with K-3 education. 

We are looking for sessions that meet the needs of advanced (7+ years of experience), intermediate (4 – 6 years of experience) and new (0-3 years of experience) early childhood professionals.  

Expand each Topic Area below for more information.

To improve outcomes for young children, early childhood partners need to collaborate and advocate to achieve collective impact.  Sessions in this area will focus on topics such as advancing policy change, building partnerships, addressing capacity needs and coalition building. Subjects of particular interest include:

  • Engaging cross-sector partnerships in early childhood efforts
  • Advancing and addressing opportunities for policy change
  • Addressing capacity challenges in rural and tribal communities
  • Convening and leading coalitions effectively
  • Addressing system-level disparities in child outcomes
  • Building and strengthening the capacity of non-profits to deliver services
  • Sharing and integrating data for greater understanding of what is happening in the system
  • Leveraging and blending funding from multiple sources for greater impact

Sessions focused on the healthy development of children birth to 5. Health is broadly defined to include physical, social/emotional, behavioral and oral health. Subjects of particular interest include: 

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Resilience and Trauma Informed Care
  • Neuroscience of brain development in early childhood
  • Oral health, prevention of early childhood caries 
  • Immunizations and well-child visits
  • Early screening and identification of developmental concerns, including autism, and connections to services and interventions
  • Health systems and health policy: Medicaid (AHCCCS), CHIP (KidsCare), health reform (state and federal), IHS/Tribal 638, IDEA and corresponding implications for early childhood health
  • Health care issues affecting pregnant moms and perinatal women
  • Social determinants of health: factors that influence health outcomes
  • Care coordination for children with at-risk populations, including children with special needs and/or complex needs
  • Hearing and vision screening
  • Rural and tribal children’s health
  • Initiatives and programs that support healthy nutrition, daily physical activity and obesity prevention
  • Early childhood behavioral health and children’s social emotional development

Sessions focused on early language and emergent literacy development of infants, toddlers and preschoolers.  Understanding that the early years provide the strong foundation for a healthy reader, these sessions should provide the information and foundational skills that guide the support and development of emerging readers to meet their full potential.  Subjects of particular interest include:

  • Typical language and literacy development for the early years anchored in the science of reading
  • Effective teaching and learning in literacy and innovative evidence-based solutions to challenges
  • Strategies adults can implement to support early literacy development for young children ages 0-5, such as:
    • Back and forth conversation exchanges in everyday settings (i.e., sing, talk, read, play)
    • Expressive and receptive language and communication skills
    • Promoting understanding of the foundational skills of early literacy (i.e., phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, vocabulary development, etc.)
    • Early writing, processes, and writing application
    • Fostering a love of reading and interactive shared reading experiences
    • Social emotional practices and the connection to early literacy
  • Instructional practices that support the literacy development of young children that are aligned with:
    • The Program Guidelines for High Quality Early Education: Birth through Kindergarten
    • The Arizona Infant Toddler Developmental Guidelines
    • The Arizona Early Learning Standards
    • The Continuum of Effective Literacy Practices
  • Strengthening of evidence-based early literacy practices and policies and the effective implementation of such policies at the program level

It takes a diverse set of skills and stress management to be an effective leader in early childhood.  Sessions in this track are designed to enhance and expand leadership, management, interpersonal effectiveness and self-care of individuals and the organizations they serve.  Sessions of particular interest include:

  • Implementing best business practices in early care and education settings
  • Managing a small business (finances, insurance, staffing) in early care and education settings
  • Creating positive organizational cultures
  • Leading and managing change
  • Engaging/motivating employees
  • Assessing and addressing organizational effectiveness
  • Managing employee performance
  • Recruiting, coaching and retaining staff
  • How women leaders can set themselves up for success
  • Building trust among team members
  • Managing conflict
  • Effectively navigating difficult conversations
  • Time management
  • Achieving work-life balance
  • Self-care such as: addressing compassion fatigue, managing stress, achieving mindfulness
  • Identifying and implementing professional development needs of professionals in early education, health and family support

Sessions focused on building public awareness of the importance of early childhood, including strategies for engaging the public to take action on behalf of young children in their communities.

  • Marketing/communications planning
  • Digital marketing, including email, social media, websites and content
  • Public relations and media relations
  • Community outreach and grassroots engagement
  • Understanding public policy
  • How to engage elected officials to back programs that support vulnerable and at-risk families

With the understanding that parents and caregivers are their children’s first and best teachers, sessions are focused on how professionals can support families with the tools and information they need to provide stable, nurturing and safe environments that help their young children reach their full potential. Subjects of particular interest include:

  • Creative practices and innovative solutions for implementation of evidence-based programs serving various target populations such as:
    • families of children with special physical, emotional and/or behavioral needs
    • parents and caregivers with special needs
    • families with multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
    • parents and caregivers with mental health and/or substance abuse concerns 
    • fathers
    • tribal families
    • grandparents raising grandchildren
    • teen parents, single parents, foster parents
  • Creative, innovative and culturally-responsive practices to promote effective family engagement and retention
  • Creative use of technology in engaging hard-to-reach families 
  • Techniques and strategies to build trust, approach sensitive topics and conduct screenings and assessments with families, including but not limited to screenings related to childhood development, postpartum depression and intimate partner violence 
  • Practical application of family-centered practice, the Protective Factors, Trauma-Informed Care and other approaches to strengthen family resiliency within programs or communities 
  • Two-generational approaches that view program implementation as an opportunity for  long-term, multi-generational change 
  • Examples of program infrastructure and enhancements that can provide needed support for staff to improve program delivery and outcomes, such as reflective supervision and consultation models
  • Innovative practices of Family Resource Centers, including collaborative partnerships, referrals to other programs to enhance services, and support to families in navigating additional services that provide family support, health care and early learning opportunities

Sessions focused on quality early care and education experiences for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, in both center and home-based settings that help prepare them for success in kindergarten and beyond.  Subjects of particular interest include:

  • The impact of brain development on learning
  • How to use assessment tools and practices to evaluate early care/education programs for quality
  • Evidence-based curriculum
  • How to monitor children’s progress over time and use that data to inform instructional practices and curriculum planning
  • Interconnectedness of developmental domains, instructional practices and learning environments
  • Instructional practices that support the development of young children and are aligned with
    • The Program Guidelines for High Quality Early Education: Birth through Kindergarten
    • The Arizona Infant Toddler Developmental Guidelines
    • The Arizona Early Learning Standards
  • Best practices in educating and caring for:
    • Infants and toddlers
    • Children with special needs, including special health care needs
    • Children who have experienced trauma
    • Dual language learners
  • Play-based instruction
  • Prevention of expulsion
  • Promising practices to support quality in Family, Friend, and Neighbor care
  • Culturally responsive instructional practices, family engagement and policies for early care and education providers
  • Early care and education approaches (i.e. Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Waldorf, etc.)
  • Effective early care and education environments specifically for:
    • Infants and toddlers
    • Children with special needs, including special health care needs
    • Children who have experienced trauma
  • Dual language learners

Sessions in any of the topic areas listed above that are specifically focused on opportunities to support young children and families in tribal communities. Subjects of particular interest:


  • Developmentally appropriate early intervention practices
  • Innovative and effective programs implementation
  • Including Indigenous cultural practices in evidence based programs
  • Improving health outcomes of young children in tribal communities
  • Developing and utilizing standardized testing in early childhood programs
  • Supporting professional development Improving access to early education
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • Building relationships to work effectively with tribes
  • Best practices for working with multigenerational families
  • Language preservation and revitalization
  • How to establish effective partnerships between tribal and non-tribal partners
  • Bridging the gap between elders and youth
  • Utilizing technology to support outcomes of young children
  • Culturally-responsive practices instructional practices, family engagement and policies for early care and education providers
  • Development and integration of native languages to promote early literacy
  • Utilizing data for decision making and measuring outcomes