46th Annual Crucial Early Years Institute 

 About l Registration l CEUs/DHSS l Speakers l PresentationsPlanning Committee | Brochure Download

Designed to meet the needs of teachers, child care providers, parents as teachers, administrators, social workers, early childhood students in teacher education, and parents of young children. We trust your Institute experience will be professionally rewarding.

A variety of workshops are scheduled on a wide range of topics, including keynote and featured speaker presentations, 60-minute sessions, and 90-minute sessions. A box lunch is included in the registration fee.

Missouri and Illinois early childhood educators earn 6 approved clock hours from DHSS (MO) and DCFS (IL) towards your annual requirement.

New Format for Crucial Early Years Institute

As a result of evaluation results, we have changed the format of the sessions. We feel these changes will accommodate both the presenters’ and attendee’s needs better while still providing 6 clock hours for attending the Institute. The Keynote and Featured Speakers will present once each at different times. The 2-hour sessions are changed to 90-minute sessions. We are now offering 3 different times for 60-minute sessions.



We encourage individuals to register online as confirmation is sent out electronically. Groups of teachers from the same institution and paying with one check, credit card or PO must register by mail. Please complete the registration form downloadable from the link below.

To better serve you, enrollments are limited. Once capacity is reached, we will not be able to accept further registrations, even if it is reached before October 3, 2014.

Registration Procedures

Registration Online | Register By Mail or Fax

For more information, please call (314) 516-7250.

Note: It is not necessary to register for, or identify, the individual workshop sessions you will be attending. Simply register for the Institute and you will receive a finalized Schedule of Workshops on arrival.

Cancellation, Withdrawal, and Refund: The University reserves the right to cancel any program. In the event of cancellation, you will be notified immediately, and all program fees will be refunded or applied to a future program at your request. A cancellation processing fee will apply if you cancel within two weeks of the Institute. If you must cancel a registration, please call (314) 516-6590 by October 3, 2014, to guarantee a full refund.

UMSL CEUs/DHSS/MO Open or DCFS/IL Annual Clock Hour Training Requirement Record

Continuing Education Units: One Continuing Education Unit (CEU) is defined as 10 hours of classroom instruction. Up to 0.6 CEUs will be awarded for participation in this year’s Crucial Early Years® Institute. All attendees will receive a Certificate of Attendance with CEUs after the Institute.

DHSS/MO Open Clock Hours: A MOPD ID is required when you register for the Crucial Early Year’s Institute. You can obtain your MOPD ID by going to www.mopdid.org. The Crucial Early Years Institute has been approved for the DHSS (licensing) annual clock-hour training requirement. UMSL will submit the attendance sheets to MO Open Initiative to record clock-hours to your MOPDID.

DCFS/IL Clock Hours: The Crucial Early Years Institute has been approved for Illinois DCFS (licensing) annual clock-hour training requirement. The UMSL Certificate of Attendance that is initialed by UMSL staff will serve as verification of attendance for approved annual clock-hours. 

More information will be provided in the brochure and at the conference.

Keynote & Featured Speakers


Richard Cohen, M.A. | Keynote Speaker

Richard Cohen has been an early childhood professional for over twenty seven years. Richard is an associate professor at St Louis Community College, Florissant Valley Campus in Early Childhood. Richard has traveled the world as a motivational speaker/instructor, facilitating fun, innovative, thought-provoking, interactive adult learning experiences for communities of early childhood teachers, administrators, caregivers and parents.

Richard was the Associate Chief Officer of the Council for Professional Recognition in Washington, D.C. While at the Council, Richard authored the new Infant/Toddler, Preschool and Family Child care Editions of the national Competency Standards books and co-authored/edited the new comprehensive textbook "Essentials for Working with Young Children".

Richard served as Senior Director of Professional Development at the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) where he co-authored the NAEYC Professional Development Glossary and served as the association's project design lead for Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Child Care Resources.

In his first years as an early childhood professional, in the positions he describes as "the best jobs of my life," Richard was an infant classroom teacher, a toddler classroom teacher, a preschool classroom teacher and a kindergarten teacher!

Over the years, Richard has been an instructor for the Erikson Institute's professional development series as well as the Anti-Defamation League's " A World Of Difference" Institute. He was a CDA advisor for Harold Washington College, an NAEYC accreditation facilitator for the Office of Catholic Schools and a teacher supervisor for National Louis University's "Teach For America" elementary education program. Additionally, Richard served as adjunct faculty at Triton College and St. Augustine College in Illinois, teaching "The Theory Of Play," "Creative Activities for the Young Child" and "Child, Family and Community".

Inspiring The Creative In Children

This keynote takes the more traditional lecture approach and discusses aspects of artistic creativity and creative/critical thinking in young children and the adult professional's role in nurturing these skills. I explore and explain broader definitions of "creativity", discuss its natural role in child/human development and the personal and professional implications for early childhood professionals.


Peggy North-Jones, Ph.D., I/ECHMH-C, CFLE | Featured Speaker

Dr. Peggy North-Jones is a mental health consultant, highly regarded for her ability to educate and entertain. Her breadth of professional expertise and knowledge, as well as the personal experiences she is willing to share captivates audiences of childhood educators, family advocates and parents. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, she has spent over 42 years working with children and families. She is currently the Associate Director of Caregiver Connections in Quincy, Illinois, and is the owner of THIS IS MY FAMILY, a business that presents lectures and seminars for practitioners, teachers, parents and supervisors.

Dr. North-Jones has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh and holds a Ph.D. in counseling and family therapy from St. Louis University. She has recently been certified as an Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant in Illinois and is a Certified Family Life Educator with the National Council on Family Relations. Her engaging presentations and lectures take a unique look at a variety of areas including: family life education, infant mental health, time and stress management, general parenting issues, early care and education, children’s behavior, children and trauma, and supporting the development of reflective practitioners.

Why Are They Behaving That Way and What Am I Supposed to Do About It?

I have tried everything! The behavior just comes out of nowhere. She just does what she wants and doesn’t care about anybody else! Nothing works with that child!

Our understanding of young children has both changed and increased dramatically in the last decade as information about best practices and new research is made available to those involved in early education and the care of young children.

But how do we integrate what the field is discovering into the work we do every day? How is our work with children impacted by the valuable influx of information about the workings of the brain and the critical nature of early social-emotional development? How do we acknowledge and respond to the trauma and early exposure to violence that studies indicate is present in at least half of the families we serve? In this session we will review some of the current research in these areas and explore these questions as they relate to challenging behaviors and issues with children and families you may be experiencing.

Planning Committee