More than 800 early childhood professionals from 81 nations gathered to improve quality early education

Gladys Montes and Luisa Cotto of the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education joined 841 early childhood leaders and practitioners from 81 nations at the tenth World Forum on Early Care and Education, held May 6 – 9, 2014, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The focus of the event was to discuss the delivery of quality services to young children globally and to develop action plans for achieving quality in diverse settings.

“For children of the world to have promising futures, early childhood programs must meet their needs for optimal growth and development,” said Montes, vice president, United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education.  “By attending the World Forum, we had the unique opportunity to network with early childhood leaders from six continents and share ideas about what quality really means.”

Cotto attended the forum as one of only 45 Global Leaders for Young Children, and as only one of three from the United States.  Global Leaders for Young Children, launched in 2004, is a World Forum Foundation project with the goal of improving the lives of young children.  Every year, early childhood leaders are selected and tasked with developing projects that advocate for quality early childhood advancement in their home countries and regions.  Since its inception, 130 leaders from 54 countries have provided training, mentoring and inspiration through their participation in the program.

Cotto was invited to present at the World Forum’s Technology for Classroom Teachers panel, alongside fellow early education and technology experts: Brain Puerling of Catherine Cooke School in Chicago; and Shanali de Rose of Wellington & Wairarapa in Whitireia, New Zealand.  The presentation focused on the effective, appropriate and intentional use of technology in early education.

“Every child needs to be exposed to the technology of today’s era, in order to be successful and self-sufficient citizens, working professionals and leaders of tomorrow,” said Cotto.  “Introducing technology at the preschool level not only provides children with a skill set to succeed, but enhances the classroom’s learning environment with opportunities that enable collaboration among teachers, families and students globally.”

Presentations were made at the World Forum by more than 250 early childhood professionals from all over the world, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Myanmar, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, United States and Zimbabwe.

Being that children and families face diverse issues around the world, a range of topics were discussed, which included: Immigration, Children’s Rights, Indigenous People, Universal Principles of Early Childhood Curriculum, Nature and Young Children, Cultural Diversity, Infants and Toddlers, Technology for Teacher Education and Professional Development, Trends and Models in Interior Environments, Children with Special Needs, Play, Peace Education, Men in Early Childhood Education, Advocacy, Public Policy, Observation, Care of Children Outside of Centers, Responding to Disaster/Emergency Situations, Empowering Parents as Advocates, Parent Partnerships, Nutrition, Brain Development, Leadership, Art Education, Ongoing Assessment, Multi-Lingual Education, Quality versus Sustainability, and much more.

About United Way of Miami-Dade

For 90 years, United Way of Miami-Dade has been an innovative force in the community, successfully responding to emerging needs and transforming people’s lives. Today our work is focused on education, financial stability and health—the building blocks for a good life.  We invest in quality programs, advocate for better policies, engage people in the community and generate resources.  To learn more, give, advocate or volunteer, visit or

About World Forum Foundation

The mission of the World Forum Foundation, a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization, is to promote an ongoing global exchange of ideas on the delivery of high-quality services for young children in diverse settings.  Additional information about the World Forum Foundation is available at