CNC in Action: 2018 CNC Conference



The conference challenged participants to set goals. Please send us an idea from the conference that you implemented/plan to implement in your program. One submission will be awarded a children’s book. 

The first two days of March, over 350 participants gathered in Mississauga for the 2018 CNC Conference, funded by IRCC. This year, the conference theme was Working With Refugee Children and Their Families, with a focus on improving our understanding of trauma, how it impacts children at different stages, and how to better support refugee children. Organized by CMAS, the conference provided opportunities to meet other CNC staff, build relationships, share strategies, and collaborate to create real life solutions that benefit children enrolled in CNC programs.



I am so happy to have gotten this chance. I want to use these new ideas and change my program.

The keynote address by Mike McKay, Director of the Canadian Self-Regulation Initiative and a retired superintendent/CEO with the Surrey School District, looked at how to create environments where children thrive. His session, entitled An Essential Question: When will what we know change what we do?, celebrated the essential role of the early childhood educator and identified areas for attention as we build capacity at the individual and systemic levels. Click here to download a copy of his presentation.

For those who could not attend the conference, CNC Resilience Workshops are now available to all programs, so staff can explore key strategies that can be used to support resilience and settlement in immigrant and refugee children.

During the conference, participants rotated through a series of four workshops related to the conference theme. Trauma And Resilience–Creating A Safe Space For Refugee Children examined how trauma and the refugee experience impacts children’s development and behaviours at different ages, as well as how to build safe and predictable spaces and strategies that strengthen the capacity for resilience and recovery in young children who have experienced trauma. Sessions were led by Heather Savazzi, Content Development Lead at CMAS and author of The Resilience Guide; Donna Thomas, CMAS Team Lead, trainer and coauthor of the Resource Guide for LINC Childminding Programs; and Helen Crouch, CMAS consultant, trainer and part of the project team that developed the CNC program. In addition, to extend the learning, all attendees received print copies of both the new The Resilience Guide: Program Strategies for Responding to Trauma in Refugee Children, as well as Caring for Syrian Refugee Children: A Program Guide for Welcoming Young Children and Their Families.

“Great experiences. Wonderful topics. Great sharing thoughts ideas and friendships. Thank you CMAS.”

For the Strong Feelings And Challenging Behaviours–How We Can Help, workshop, presenters Jan Blaxall, Janet Foster, and Anne Murray discussed how change and trauma create emotional responses and levels of stress in children. They also provided strategies for caregivers to look beyond the behaviour, so they can make a crucial difference in the lives of these children.

“I am so happy to have been considered for attendance at the conference this year. Every aspect exceeded my expectations!”

The third workshop, Honouring Relationships–Start With The Child, was presented by Jean Tinling, Maisa’a Haj-Ahmad, and Gabriela Galli. It allowed participants to see how an understanding of the impact of stress and trauma on the developing brain can help caregivers support children on their journey to healing. Attendees were encouraged to discuss ways that they can be self-aware, manage their own stress and support each other so that they can meet the needs of the children in their care.

This conference has been such an inspiring and motivating experience. I can’t wait to get back to my centre and put all that I have learned into practice. I am so thankful to have been part of this experience and part of an organization like CMAS. Thank you. So much for everything you have done to pull this together.”

In the final workshop, Creating A Game Plan: Putting Ideas Into Action, it was time to reflect on the wealth of knowledge that was shared at the conference and create a plan. Through games and interactions, Team Leads guided participants through activities that highlighted all that they learned. They also had the chance to work with others to develop ideas to take back and use in their work with refugee children and their families.

The closing ceremony was an interactive, high-energy performance by the Drum Café…with enthusiastic musical accompaniment by all the conference attendees.

A big thank you goes out to all the presenters and Team Leads who shared their expertise, as well as the participants who exchanged ideas and experiences.  Special thanks to Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for funding this wonderful opportunity to connect and learn from each other.