OKLAHOMA CITY — Children look to us for guidance, security, encouragement, education and so much more. And each one of us serves an important role in the lives of children.

On Nov. 2, parents of young children and early childhood professionals will have the opportunity to gain skills to support the development of children. The Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness will host OKFutures Moving Forward: 2019 Professional Development Conference at East Central University in Ada.

This conference will help participants understand child/adult interactions, trauma and other behaviors when working with children from birth to 5 years old. And for the first time in Oklahoma, this early childhood conference will occur simultaneously in eight locations, making access more convenient for both parents and professionals. Other sites include Durant, Enid, Lawton, Norman, Tahlequah, Thackerville and Tulsa.

In addition, this event is supported by six tribal nations, including Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Comanche Nation, Osage Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, demonstrating the commitment of partnerships between state and tribal governments in support of early childhood in Oklahoma.

“OPSR is very excited to bring this professional development opportunity to all of the state’s hard-working child care workers, educators and parents,” said Debra Andersen, OPSR executive director. “We’re also grateful to have the support of multiple tribal nations who want their citizens to have the tools and resources to improve the lives of young children. We hope this conference empowers every participant to feel confident in their ability to make a positive impact on children and families.”

From 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., participants will engage in four different training tracks, each tailored to address an important aspect of early childhood. Featuring Amy Huffer, Ph.D., Track One will focus on trauma-informed care, such that participants will walk away understanding the signs of trauma as well as how to create a nurturing environment. Track Two will concentrate on the basic concepts of early social-emotional growth and socialization for infants and toddlers.

Tracks Three and Four will both emphasize brain development and communication milestones from birth to 5 years old. Track Three will also focus on how children learn through play. Presented by Lakeshore Learning, participants will gain a clear understanding of how play promotes cognitive, physical, social and emotional development in children. Lastly, Track Four will identify ways to support early childhood teachers’ physical, psychological and professional well-being.

In addition, professionals can earn six formal training hours through the Center for Early Childhood Professional Development or continuing education units for licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors and licensed marriage and family therapists.

This event is only $15 to register. Parents can register for free with promo code, PDPARENT19. In addition, qualifying attendees will receive a $40 stipend for their participation. To register, visit https://www.okschoolreadiness.org/events/okfutures-moving-forward-conference#registration.

For additional information or questions, contact OPSR at 405-429-4219.

About Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness

In 2003, House Bill 1094 created the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness and added Oklahoma to a growing list of states that recognized more action is required to successfully support families and children from birth to preschool — thus improving school readiness. Together, through both public and private partnerships, we work to help children arrive at school with the knowledge, skills and physical and emotional health to achieve their dreams. Today, our mission is to lead Oklahoma in coordinating an early childhood system that strengthens families and ensures all children are ready for school. For more information, visit https://www.okschoolreadiness.org.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation

The Citizen Potawatomi Nation is the federally recognized government of the Potawatomi people and exercises governmental jurisdiction in an area bounded by the North Canadian River, the South Canadian River, the Pottawatomie-Seminole County and the Indian Meridian. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation offers many services to its citizens and to other Native Americans throughout its tribal jurisdiction. These services include several different categories, including housing, community, education, health, veterans, elder and career services. Read more online at https://www.potawatomi.org.

The Cherokee Nation

Upon settling in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) after the Indian Removal Act, the Cherokee people established a new government in what is now the city of Tahlequah. Today, the Cherokee Nation is the largest tribe in the United States, with more than 370,000 tribal citizens worldwide. More than 141,000 Cherokee Nation citizens reside within the 14-county tribal jurisdictional area that covers most of northeastern Oklahoma.

Services provided include health and human services, education, employment, housing, economic and infrastructure development, environmental protection and more. With approximately 11,000 employees, Cherokee Nation and its subsidiaries are one of the largest employers in northeastern Oklahoma. The tribe had a more than $2.16 billion economic impact on the Oklahoma economy in fiscal year 2018. Learn more at https://www.cherokee.org.

The Chickasaw Nation

With nearly 68,000 citizens, the Chickasaw Nation is the 12th-largest federally recognized Indian tribe in the United States. The Chickasaw Nation has an annual economic impact of $3.7 billion in Oklahoma. The tribe has more than 13,500 employees. A democratic republic with executive, legislative and judicial departments, the tribe’s jurisdictional territory includes all or part of 13 counties in south-central Oklahoma. For more information, https://www.chickasaw.net.

The Comanche Nation

Known as “Lords of the Plains,” the Comanche Nation was once a part of the Shoshone Tribe. In the late 1600s and early 1700s, they migrated through Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, ultimately settling in southwest Oklahoma. The mission of the Comanche Nation is to define, establish and safeguard the rights, powers and privileges of the tribe and its members as well as to improve the economic, moral, educational and health status of its members. Find out more about the Comanche Nation at https://comanchenation.com.

The Osage Nation

The Osage Nation shares, preserves and celebrates the values, teachings and tribal ways that our elders entrusted to the present and future generation. This nation believes their strength comes from the commitment of their Wahzhazhe people and the knowledge that the Wahzhazhe nation is blessed by Wa-Kon-Da. Learn more at https://www.osagenation-nsn.gov.

United Keetowah Band of Cherokee Indians

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians has a rich and vibrant history. Many of the members of this tribe continue to practice and pass along the traditional crafts and stories from before European contact, such as basket weaving and stickball. And in 2005, the tribe launched efforts to promote their native language and educate the public about their history and culture. To find out more, check out www.keetoowahcherokee.org.

Disclaimer: Funding or this project was made possible by OKFutures, a grant known as the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five, Grant No. 90TP0037. This grant was awarded to the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education and is administered by the Administration for Children and Families.

This press release is solely the responsibility of its authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Child Care, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.

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