Keynotes and Professional Development Sessions


The Nova Scotia Child Care Association has worked together with our sponsors to provide a program that will highlight the importance of Social Emotional Wellness and Mental Health in the Early Years.  Our goal is to provide stimulating professional development sessions for practitioners to use in their daily practice with young children, while stimulating the mind and recognizing the important work we do each day. 

Participants are asked to select one workshop session from each Professional Development Series  Once you have chosen your sessions you can register here.
Fall Conference Package 2016(PDF Download)

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Registration Information

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Pre-conference Seminar

with Chaya Kulkarni



ckCreating Developmental Support Plans

In this session, we will discuss ways to use the results of the developmental screen, observations, and caregiver report to create a developmental support plan unique to each child. These developmental support plans are strength based, age-appropriate for each particular child, and unique to the needs of the family. They can be used throughout professional practice to enhance interactions between a parent and child. The presenter will talk about ways in which this plan should be shared and implemented with other professionals and the families with which they work.

Learning Objectives:
1. Learn how to collect valuable information about a child through observation, caregiver report, and a developmental screen.
2. Use this information to create a developmental support plan that is strength based and unique to each individual child.
3. Learn how to share the developmental support plan with caregivers, supervisors, medical teams, and other professionals working with the child.

*The Hand in Hand Resource Kit will be shared with all participants. It is best, if possible, to bring a laptop to the training with the Resource Kit to practice using it. 

Presenter:  Dr. Chaya Kulkarni is Director of Infant Mental Health Promotion (IMHP), a professional coalition dedicated to promoting optimal mental health outcomes for infants, based out of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Chaya is also an Advisor to the Dolly Parton foundation, The Imagination Library, a member of the Board at Family Day Association and a part time professor at Seneca College in the Bachelor of Child Development program. Prior to joining IMHP Chaya was VP, Parent and Professional Education at Invest in Kids, and has also served as Senior Policy Analyst and Researcher for the Office of the Official Opposition, Queen’s Park.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Keynote Presentation

With Mary Gordon



mgSeeds of Empathy:  Developing Perspective taking skills and emotional literacy in 3-5 year olds with Mary Gordon

Young children develop in a sea of relationships. The first relationship of attachment with a parent or parents is the template for all other relationships and if it goes off course, the young child needs a life jacket. Early Childhood Educators can be that life jacket in supporting optimal child development which includes mental health and overall wellbeing. It is a smart society that provides for the wellbeing of parents and early childhood educators as they hold lifelong power in helping children off on a positive trajectory. This presentation will share how Seeds of Empathy works in child care centres in Canada, the US and the UK, developing perspective taking skills and emotional literacy in 3 to 5 year olds.

Mary Gordon is recognized internationally as an award-winning educator, social entrepreneur, author, child advocate and parenting expert who has created programs informed by the power of empathy. Ms Gordon is also the founder of Canada's first and largest school-based Parenting and Family Literacy Centres, which she initiated in 1981.  These centres worked with the parent-child relationship as the vehicle for learning.  They have become public policy.

In 1996 she created the Roots of Empathy program.  The organization, Roots of Empathy, offers programs in every Province of Canada and in ten countries, in multiple languages. Ms. Gordon has had several dialogues with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Her book, Roots of Empathy: Changing the World Child by Child, is available in multiple languages.

Ms. Gordon speaks and consults to governments, educational organizations, and public institutions, including the World Health Organization and the United Nations. She is the recipient of several awards recognizing her contribution to innovation in education and international social entrepreneurship. Ms. Gordon is one of North America’s first Ashoka Fellows (globalizer) and sits on the Ashoka Global Board.  Ms. Gordon is a Member of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest honouring of a citizen. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Workshop Series A


A1:  Creating a Peaceful Environment for Children and Adults Do you feel like you have been working  in a zoo, or a classroom full of chaos or shaken bottles of pop?  Join us in the interactive workshop that may leave you chill, Zen and relaxed. Even better… take home skills, ideas and activities that you can use on Monday to create a calmer and efficient environment for the children you work with.   Help yourself and the children in your program achieve a more relaxed, fluid and organized environment to achieve  more social success.    Presenter: Sarah Deyoung, BA. (Psychology), B. Ed. is an Elementary Academic and Social Skills facilitator, as well as the founder of WellLife Training and Development. She provides effective and practical training for teachers and individuals to better their practices. Sarah is a high energy spirit who loves to get her hands into everything! Sarah has studied Meditation and Student Wellbeing, taught Adult and Youth Education, and creates hands-on experiential workshops in areas such as wellbeing, outdoor education and much more. Sarah is passionate about sharing the love for lifelong learning with children and adults.

A2:  Early Childhood Educator Perspectives:  Supporting Infants and Families as they Transition to Child Care This session will explore a research study recently held in HRM to complete a thesis requirement for a Masters Degree in CYS from MSVU.  The focus of the research was to examine the perspectives of ECEs and to explore how they support infants and families transitioning to group care.  Recent focus groups brought together groups of Infant Educators from HRM to answer questions about what factors need to be considered for families who are entering infant care.  The results indicate that ECEs can articulate ways in which successful transitions with low stress and high levels of adaptability for infants can impact overall well-being.  They also describe potential strategies and tools that are used to promote positive transition and relationship building with the family as a whole.  The study results may be useful to ECEs working in child care programs, families, ECE students and program instructors as well as those who create policy for the provision of quality early learning programs.  Presenter:  Cathy Ramos, Bachelor of Child and Youth Study, and Masters in Child and Youth Study from MSVU.  Director of a NSCECE lab school child care program, NSCECE faculty, NSCECE practicum Coordinator. 

A3: Building Circles of Support for Families within Early Learning Environments  This session will focus on understanding the importance of family capacity building in supporting young children with developmental delays in the early years. The discussion will involve an explanation of the role of family relationships within early learning environments and how we can strengthen the supports families receive within their communities as we all work together to support the child's development. We will discuss strategies to support the parent-child relationship, the family-early learning environment relationship and community partnerships. Presenter: Jenna Arsenault is a Developmental Interventionist with Nova Scotia Early Childhood Development Intervention Services and a Parent Education Facilitator with the IWK Health Centre. She is a graduate from Mount Saint Vincent University with a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Studies (honours) and is currently working towards her Masters of Education in Counselling at Acadia University. Jenna's learning and research interests involve promoting the emotional and social development of infants and children through supporting and strengthening the caregiver-child relationship.

A4:  Childhood Trauma: Building Strategies for Success in an ECE or Group Setting  The primary need of young children is for stability and security in their day to day lives. Children who have experienced Trauma need help to modulate and self-regulate their emotions and their behaviors.  As Early Childhood Educators, Parents, Foster Parents or care givers need to assist each child in managing the trauma while developing their social, emotional and academic potential. Even if a child is receiving support from specialists, they are still in your program every day.  Your understanding and guidance in addition to your supportive, nurturing relationship with the child can make a great difference in his/her day-to-day adjustment.  This session is designed to help you to become familiar with the range of experiences affecting children as well as a simple overview and understanding of trauma and how it can affect child development. It will focus on building strategies to help engage, calm and contain children who have experienced Trauma.  These strategies can also be used with any and all children in your program. Presenters: Kathleen Couture is an Early Childhood Educator, Director and Mentor and has been for over 30 years. She has worked across Canada and in the USA and has a vast knowledge of Early Childhood Education setting and classroom management.  She has also been a foster parent of children dealing with trauma for the past 7 years. Working with children who have experienced trauma and children with extreme behaviours has been a passion of hers for many years. She comes to you with knowledge, training and first-hand experience. Dr. Normand Carrey is an infant, child and adolescent psychiatrist with longstanding interest in attachment and developmental psychopathology. In addition to early manifestations of disruptive behaviors, his interests are in evidence based interventions for preschoolers and best systems of care.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Workshop Series B


B1:  Supporting Social Emotional Learning and Wellbeing through Art Education in Young Children This workshop will provide participants with an opportunity to explore emotional expression through art, learning and developing skills to support their work with children. The facilitators will also provide some historical context along with real-life examples of how they have supported children in their field.  Presenters:  Justin West is currently working as an Early Childhood pedagogical consultant at Jubilee Road Children’s Centre. Justin has worked in the field of Early Learning and Care for 15 years. A graduate of NSCAD with his Bachelor of Fine Arts and his Masters of Art Education from Boston University; Justin infuses creative expression into his daily routine with children. Justin received the Prime Ministers Award for Excellence in Early Learning and Care in 2013. Evie Dunville BA, BFA, DKATI is an Art Therapist recently graduated from the Kutenai Art Therapy Institute. Evie has worked in the art therapy field as an intern during training and as a clinician. A NSCAD and MSVU grad, Evie intertwines the written word with artistic practice as a therapeutic method in her work with all populations, including children. 

B2:  Understanding and Responding to Trauma in Children "Trauma" and Trauma Informed Care" are trendy phrases right now, but what do they really mean?  Why do so many people have trauma symptoms, and what can be done to minimize or hear from trauma?  This session provides and accessible and practical understanding of the nature of trauma in children, and highlights the innovative work of the SeaStar Child and Youth Advocacy Centre Program at the IWK Health Centre in providing a seamless and coordinated response to child abuse.  Learn how we can better understand and respond to trauma in children, and how what we do when a child is brave enough to disclose abuse can have a profound impact on that child and family, today and for generations to come. Presenters:  Kathy Bourgeois, MSW, is a Child and Youth Advocate with SeaStar CYAC.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work.  Christina Shaffer, BSc, is the Project Coordinator of the Sear Star CYAC. 

B3: Relationship Based Caregiving: An Introduction to the Circle of Security for Early Years Professional Circle of Security International (COS) has used 50 years of research to develop its highly respected and effective “relationship based program designed to enhance attachment security between caregivers and children.” (

During this interactive workshop we will explore some of the COS material specific to 0-6 year-olds. As we explore a relationship based approach to caregiving we experience a shift in perspective. This shift brings joy, energy and creativity to our work and our interpersonal relationships enhancing our interactions with children and their parents. Presenters:  Susan DeWolf, MEd (counselling), CCC RCT-c  Susan has completed the 4 day Parenting Training and the 10 day Intensive Training with Circle of Security International. She brings a unique blend of education and holistic approach to family intervention. She has had the honour and privilege to work with families, volunteers and educators for over 20 years. Dr. Normand Carrey is an infant, child and adolescent psychiatrist with longstanding interest in attachment and developmental psychopathology. In addition to early manifestations of disruptive behaviors, his interests are in evidence based interventions for preschoolers and best systems of care.  

B4: Caring for the Military Child and other Transitional Families:  Children from Military families often face challenges that are unique to a transitional lifestyle. Join us for this informative and interactive session to explore the ways in which the military lifestyle and other transitional families, can affect children (from relocation to deployment), how to provide support and build resiliency, and learn about the resources available to military families.  This hands-on session will provide caregivers and educators with a variety of practical strategies and tools to foster the social and emotional development of military children.  Presenter: Lisa Chapman holds her   degree in English and an honours diploma in ECE.  She has been working in the field of early childhood and family resources since 2005.  She has been working at the Halifax and Region Military Family Resource Centre since 2012 and provides support, and programming to military families in their community. Stefanie Hazelden Stefanie has been working in the field of early childhood since 2000 with infants, toddlers and preschoolers; an adult educator and for the past 10 years with families at the H&R MFRC. Andrea Sweeney Andrea has a bachelor's degree in Family Studies and Gerontology & a minor in Child & Youth Studies from Mount Saint Vincent University. She has been working in the field of early childhood and family resource since 2008 and has had the opportunity to meet and work with families from a variety of lifestyles and backgrounds. She has been working at the Halifax & Region Military Family Resource Centre since 2013 and really enjoys working closely with Parents through the variety of programs we have to offer. Being able to give back to the military community one workshop at a time has really been the drive behind my work.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Keynote Presentation with

Dr. Stuart Shanker




ssSelf-Regulation and the Development of Empathy and "Emotional Wellness"  

In this talk Dr. Shanker will talk about stress-regulation in infancy, the toddler years and early childhood.  In particular, he will look at why "sensitive caregiving" can be so difficult with some children and what we can do to assist both caregiver and child. Especially important is helping caregivers understand the difference between "misbehaviour" and "stress-behaviour."

Dr. Stuart Shanker is a Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at York University and the CEO of the MEHRIT Centre, Ltd. ( One of his many books, "Calm, Alert and Learning: Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation (2012)", is the top selling educational publication ever in Canada. His new book "Self-Reg: How to help your child (and you) break the stress-cycle and successfully engage with life" will be published June 2016.

 Over the past decade, Stuart has served as an advisor on early child development to government organizations across Canada and the US, and in countries around the world. He served as the 2012 Thinker in Residence for Western Australia. In Canada, he is assisting in Kindergarten to grade 12 Self-Reg initiatives in school jurisdictions across the country.  Stuart cares deeply about the health and well-being of children and families, and what is every bit as important to him, is the health and well-being of teachers. He commits considerable time to bringing the research and science of Self-Reg to early childhood educators, teachers, parents, educational leaders, health practitioners and communities through presentations, online courses, webinars, publications, social media and most recently a blog entitled, "The Self-Reg View".

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Workshop Series C


C1:   Handle with Care: Handle with Care is a program of Hincks-Dellcrest which uses a strength-based approach to support parents, caregivers and professionals to promote the mental health of children ages 0-6.  Handle with Care promotes self-care as well as self-reflection to help build a healthy and trusting attachment with children.  Presenters:  Marcia Nickerson has been owner/operator of Allegro Child Care Centre since 1997. Laura King has been the inclusion coordinator at Allegro since 2008.  Both Marcia and Laura became trained facilitators for Handle with Care in January 2015 and are currently the only two practitioners in NS with masters training in the program.

C2: Embedding Cultural Relevancy into Trauma Work:  Africentric, Trauma Informed Programming  Post traumatic stress impacts racialized groups at disproportional higher rates.  Although cultural appropriateness is often touched on in trauma literature, there is a gap in research that integrates culturally relevant practice principles into trauma informed work.  This session will explore the work done at AKOMA to pair Africentric philosophy with trauma informed and trauma specific practices.  Through a collaborative, individualized, and holistic approach to the care and interventions with the children, an Africentric Trauma Informed philosophy can be integrated through an organization.   Presenters:  Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard is a social worker, educator, researcher, community activist, advocate and mentor. She served as Director of the Dalhousie School of Social work for 10 years, and has been a Professor there for over 26 years. Along with many other awards and recognitions she has received the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada.   Stacy McRae holds a Master’s Degree in Education and a Bachelor of Social Work. Her research interests include resiliency, post traumatic growth and program evaluation. She currently works within organizations to support trauma informed service implementation. For the past two decades she has supported children and families as they recover from traumatic experiences.  Kira Kelly is a social worker with a passion for supporting the resilience of children and families as they face intersecting oppressions and challenges. She has worked with families and children for over 15 years in areas such as child care, parenting education, counselling, and child welfare. 

C3: Mini-Mindsets: Supporting growth mindset in young children  Our mindset can influence our perception and participation in life. Fixed and growth mindsets can greatly influence how a child participates in games, relationships and school. With a growth mindset, students are more likely to engage in activities even when met with failure. They are more likely to try new activities and develop new skills that may not come naturally to them.   How can we as educators support our mini-minds with a growth mindset? This workshop will provide practical and hands-on ways to support our children in developing a growth mindset. Who knows where this mindset could take them! Presenter: Sarah Deyoung, BA. (Psychology), B. Ed. is an Elementary Academic and Social Skills facilitator, as well as the founder of WellLife Training and Development. She provides effective and practical training for teachers and individuals to better their practices. Sarah is a high energy spirit who loves to get her hands into everything! Sarah has studied Meditation and Student Wellbeing, taught Adult and Youth Education, and creates hands-on experiential workshops in areas such as wellbeing, outdoor education and much more. Sarah is passionate about sharing the love for lifelong learning with children and adults. 

C4: Collaborative inter-agency care for 0-5 children with high developmental needs Everyone talks about how siloes between service providers need to come down so that children and families are not stressed out from navigating to multiple service providers. While this is true for older age children it is even more so for younger age children where services, both assessment and treatment are not adequately developed. Even in the early years, parents talk about burn-out from not getting the appropriate help they need. Working from a case example of a three year old toddler with profound hearing loss and ADHD, the presenters will walk the audience through the minefields of obtaining adequate services from  multiple service providers including 1)pediatrics, 2) psychology and psychiatry, 3) Speech and language professionals, including APSEA 4) developmentalists and 5) Early Childhood Educators. This workshop will 1) provide a first person perspective (the parent) on the struggle to coordinate multiple services, 2) case management tools for effective inter-agency collaboration in the early years, 3) common obstacles to inter-agency collaboration, 4) empowering parents to become more effective advocates for their child’s needs while avoiding burn-out and 5) current initiatives underway at the IWK and HRM. While the workshop will look at services it will maintain a practical, day to day perspective on children with high needs involving parents and ECEs, the two parties who spend the most time with the child. Presenter:  Dr. Normand Carrey is an infant, child and adolescent psychiatrist with longstanding interest in attachment and developmental psychopathology. In addition to early manifestations of disruptive behaviors, his interests are in evidence based interventions for preschoolers and best systems of care.  He has received Canadian Institute of Health Research funding for knowledge synthesis of how to embed mental health interventions in early childhood  systems. He is a strong advocate for collaborative work between early mental health and child welfare and protective services.

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