Home > Events in Colorado > Local Jewish Organizations First in the Western U.S. to Host Jewish Early Childhood Education Summit
Local Jewish Organizations First in the Western U.S. to Host Jewish Early Childhood Education Summit
On January 11, the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, Colorado Agency for Jewish Education (CAJE), and Rose Community Foundation are hosting a first-ever Jewish Early Childhood Education (ECE) Summit. The Summit is the first of its kind to be held in the Western United States. The Summit will bring together a group of community leaders, educators and national experts to create a plan to enhance Jewish early childhood education in Denver and Boulder.
“Our research has shown that Jewish preschools can have a profound and positive impact in strengthening Jewish identity for both preschool children and their families,” said Arlene Hirschfeld, Chair of Rose Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “This Summit will have promising implications for connecting many more families to our Jewish community and institutions.”
The Summit will focus on increasing access, improving quality and enhancing Jewish identity. It will also draw upon the findings of a recent groundbreaking study entitled: “Jewish Early Childhood Education in Denver and Boulder: Mapping the Field, 2006.” The Federation, CAJE and Rose Community Foundation, together with nine Jewish early childhood center directors, commissioned the study to learn more about the structure, operation, financial status and impact of nine Jewish ECE programs in Denver and Boulder (there are 10 total ECE programs in Denver/Boulder, however one did not participate in the study). The study made the following key observations:
Jewish ECE increases and deepens Jewish practices for all, most significantly for liberal Jewish families.
Quality matters. The two most important factors parents consider in selecting a preschool is the quality of staff and teachers, and of child development programming.
With more than 1,200 children enrolled in nine Jewish preschools, the scale is large. Yet Jewish ECE capacity falls short of demand, and is geographically concentrated.
Goals of the Summit include learning from national and local experts; raising awareness about the value of high quality, early childhood education; prioritizing action steps and recommendations for the future; and establishing work groups to move the agenda forward.
“It is time to adopt action steps that will build upon the strengths of our community’s preschools and early education programs, and increase the numbers served,” said Mark Sidell, Chair of the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado’s Coordinating Council.
“For more than a decade, the best minds in education have been emphasizing the critical importance of a child’s early years in shaping what kind of person he or she will be throughout life,” said Gene Kay, Chair of CAJE’s Board of Directors. “We must seize the moment, because by the age of five 85 percent of a child’s intellectual, emotional and cognitive ability is already formed.”
Invited summit participants include leaders from the institutions housing preschools, local educators, national education experts, Denver/Boulder funders, national foundation leaders, parents, and lay leadership from Jewish schools, synagogues and institutions. Members of the public interested in participating in the Summit may inquire via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.