The Arkansas Early Childhood Association Conference Committee announce the Request for Proposals for the 62nd Annual AECA Conference

The 2024 AECA conference will be held October 9-12, 2024 at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in North Little Rock. (Preconference sessions will be offered on Wednesday, October 9.)  

The theme of this year’s conference is Linking Hearts & Minds: Early Childhood Connections. This theme will focus our energies and attention on all the critical interactions that take place between providers, families and children.  Those of us in the early childhood profession know that the connections forged within our community are some of the strongest that you will find!  And the neural, social, and emotional connections that are made during the early years are some of the most meaningful and consequential for lifelong learning and success.  By participating in this year’s conference, you will play a key role in these connections and supporting the caregivers that make linking hearts and minds possible!   

In keeping with our theme of connection, Thursday’s keynote speaker will be DJ Pryor.  DJ’s success in his years as an entertainer is equally matched by his insight into relationships and how to make a heartfelt positive impact on others. DJ Pryor’s mantra is rooted in service, empathy, and love. He believes that his talents are gifts meant to be shared with others, and he strives to embody these principles in every aspect of his life. In a world where laughter, love, and community are needed more than ever, DJ stands as a shining example of how one person’s dedication can make a profound impact on the lives of many. His journey is a reminder that through compassion and creativity, we can all strive to create a brighter, more connected world.

AECA invites you to submit a proposal to present a breakout session at this year’s conference.  

While the focus will be on connections and relationships, proposals may be on any topic related to early care and education.  We want a broad range of appropriate topics that relate to working with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children.  As always, we will welcome sessions that are relevant to all our roles in early childhood—teachers, directors, trainers, faculty and family child care. 

To submit a proposal, click on this link and complete the online form with the requested information.  We would like all proposals submitted by June 17

Keep in mind that Saturday, October 12 may be the only day many providers can attend.  We still face a staffing crisis in our state and Saturday may be the only day our teachers and directors can get away.  We encourage prospective presenters to consider giving of your Saturday so we can offer a full variety of sessions to Saturday participants.  Please note the schedule change.  Thursday and Friday will be 75-minute breakout sessions.  On Saturday, we will have two 90-minute morning sessions and end the conference at 11:45 a.m.  Once sessions are selected, presenters will receive an email confirmation of date, time and assigned room.  Please share this post to anyone you think might be interested in being a presenter.

Pre-conference: We are also looking for creative and refreshing sessions for our day of pre-conference sessions on Wednesday, Oct 9These extra sessions are more in-depth and allow more detailed discussions (usually either 3- or 6-hour sessions).  If you have ideas or a proposal for one or more of these sessions, please email Paul Lazenby at  And if your organization is interested in sponsoring a session track on Thursday-Saturday, email Paul as well.

You can see a tentative schedule* for the conference below:

Wednesday, Oct 9

9:00-12:00       Morning Pre-conference Sessions

12:00-1:00       Buffet Lunch (provided to pre-con participants)

12:00-5:00      Participants may check in and pick up conference bags

12:00-6:00      Vendors may set up in Exhibit Hall

1:00-4:00         Afternoon Pre-conference Sessions

1:00-6:00         Vendors may set up in Exhibit Hall

Thursday, Oct 10

7:30-5:30         Exhibit Hall open

7:30-8:30         Check-in and Registration

8:30-9:45         Breakout 1

9:45-10:15       Morning Connection Break

10:15-12:00    General Session

12:00-1:30       Lunch on your own

12:00-1:30       Past Presidents’ (Diamonds) Networking Lunch 

1:30-2:45         Breakout 2

2:45-3:15         Afternoon Connection Break

3:15-4:30         Breakout 3

Friday, Oct 11

7:15-8:15         AECA Business Meeting (breakfast provided)

7:30-5:30         Exhibit Hall open

7:30-8:30         Check-in and Registration

8:30-9:45         Breakout 4

9:45-10:15       Morning Connection Break

10:15-12:00    General Session

12:00-1:30       Lunch

1:30-2:45         Breakout 5

2:45-3:15         Afternoon Connection Break

3:15-4:30         Breakout 6

Saturday, Oct 12

7:30-12:30       Exhibit Hall open

7:30-8:30         Check-in and Registration

8:30-10:00       Breakout 7

10:00-10:15    Morning Connection Break

10:15-11:45    Breakout 8

*Subject to change. Additional events will be added as plans are confirmed.   

Selected lead presenters will receive a special registration price of $85.00.  (Conference registration should be available sometime in the month of May.  We will also share information about reserving hotel accommodations as well.)   Our conference team will review and send out confirmations once sessions are scheduled.

If you have any questions or need assistance, please send an email to or call the AECA office at 501-680-1930.  We look forward to receiving your proposals. And look forward to a fantastic gathering this October.

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