With only 14 days until ISSA Conference 2017, we encourage participants to take a closer look into our host city. Our co-hosts, The City of Ghent and  VBJK, along with conference partners Artevelde University College  and Ghent University, will give participants a distinct view of Ghent.

Field visits give participants insight into the city’s childcare facilities and schools, while social events allow participants a taste of local flavors. Additionally, the conference will highlight Ghent’s history and historic buildings.

Read more about field visits, social events and ways to learn more about the city here.

You can now find the more detailed ISSA Conference 2017 program on the conference website. The program includes important information about sessions and events.

Take a peek at the conference program to choose which sessions, field visits and social events you’ll join. This year, the detailed program is only available in electronic format. You can find it here, or on the conference app.

Please note that some changes may be made to the program as the conference nears, to reflect more current information.

Find the ISSA Conference 2017 program here.

Videos are powerful tools and rich sources of information. They act as inspiration for learning, for advocacy and for engaging in reflexive discussion. We are happy to introduce a Video Room as part of our conference sessions.

Alongside regular sessions, you may choose to attend a viewing in our video room, diving into the conference themes. After each viewing, there will be time for discussion and questions with the video presenters.

You can learn more about video presentations when the full program is available at

ISSA Conference gets tech-savvy again this year with a mobile application to help you keep informed during the conference. The ISSA Conference 2017 App allows attendees connect with one another via a social wall and through direct messaging. The app is also utilized for conference updates and changes. We’re excited to introduce you to the app.

If you have registered for the ISSA Conference download the ISSA Conference 2017 App on the Itunes store or the Play store.

Ghent, this year’s conference location, is home to many examples of quality early years services. Field visits to six child care facilities (birth to 2,5-3 years old) and six schools (2,5-12 years old) are organized during the conference. Here are a few examples of places to visit:

  • Day care center and out-of-school care ‘t Sleepken. This field visit shows you how a child care center can help to strengthen community networks. Discover their tips, quick wins and possible pitfalls inviting the neighborhood into the childcare center.
  • Daycare center het Nachtegaaltje. This daycare center incorporates sustainability and ‘green principles’ in every aspect of it pedagogical vision and daily practice. The focus is on ecological, social and economic sustainability.
  • Public school Mandala. Learning is based on the Freinet pedagogy and community-oriented principles. The school has a specific pedagogic and social project, focusing on intercultural, multilingual education and active participation of children and parents.

In October, we are offering more opportunities to see child’s centers and learn from other practitioners in the field. You can also stay current on information about all field visits here.

We are happy to host an expert panel during on October 5th during the ISSA Conference. Moderator Michel Vandenbroeck will oversee the panel discussion entitled Local Responses to Global Challenges: The Role of Local Policies in Early Childhood Development. Those sitting on the panel include:

  • Joan Lombardi, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and international expert on child development and social policy for the Bernard Van Leer Foundation
  • Deepa Grover, regional advisor on early childhood development at UNICEF’s Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States
  • Elke Decruynaere, Alderman of Education in the City of Ghent and as such, responsible for early childhood education and care in the city
  • Roos van Gelderen, Alderman for the Dutch Socialist Party in Leiden, the Netherlands in the field of Youth, Care and Welfare
  • Chris Cuthbert, Director of Development for the Big Lottery Fund’s A Better Start programme

The panel will explore examples from various countries. Find out more about the plenary panel here.

We are thrilled to have Nora Milotay, Policy Analyst at the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), as one of our keynote speakers at the ISSA Conference. Ms. Milotay works on issues of European social policy at the Economic Policies Unit. Speaking about the conference theme “Local Responses, Global Advances: Towards Competent Early Childhood Competent Systems”, Ms. Milotay shares some of the features that are crucial in the achievement of competent early childhood systems.

Nora Milotay’s keynote address, Governance of competent systems in the EU: from potential to reality, will be October 6th, 2017 from 11:30am to 12:30pm. Register for the ISSA Conference 2017 to join.


International Step By Step Association launched a new video featuring Michel Vandenbroeck, Head of the Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium.

In the field of quality early childhood education, few experts in Europe are as highly regarded as Michel Vandenbroeck . ISSA is delighted to have him as moderator of the panel discussion,”Local Responses to Global Challenges: the Role of Local Policies in Early Childhood Development”, during the ISSA Conference 2017.

In this video, Dr. Vandenbroeck touches upon some of the challenges that early childhood systems face in today’s society. He also discusses interesting local responses adopted in Ghent, our conference location.

Watch the video below:

ISSA conferences have long had a reputation for being on the cutting edge of Early Childhood DevelVopment (ECD). The quality of the Keynote Speakers over the years has been essential to the success of past conferences. This year certainly won’t disappoint.

Speaking directly to the conference theme Local Responses, Global Advances: Towards Competent Early Childhood Competent Systems, we were pleased to interview keynote speaker Dr. Jan Peeters of VBJK.

In many ways, as the Director of the Ghent-based research center, Dr. Peeters is the embodiment of the conference theme. His organization works in Ghent and cooperates locally to help create competent early childhood systems.

Read more about all of the Conference Keynote Speakers here

We gladly announce that the registration for participating at ISSA conference 2017 – Local Responses, Global Advances: Towards Competent Early Childhood Systems – is launched already.
More information about the registration – at the Registration section.

We are very happy and excited to have a new Website for the upcoming ISSA 2017 Conference. We hope that you will find this site helpful, informative and user-friendly. Please feel free to contact Conference Secretariat at if you need any further information.