During the summer of 1979, a group of early childhood special educators gathered at Central Washington University (www.cwu.edu) in Ellensburg, Washington. Among those present at the creation of ECDAW (Early Childhood Development Association of Washington) were Joan Martin, Melba Grau, Dick Boysen, Judi Moore, Linda Gil, and Mimi Siegel. In 1980, the initial official ECDAW training conference took place in Ellensburg with Judi Moore as ECDAW’s first president. Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) collaborated with ECDAW in 1984 to produce the ECDAW-OSPI Early Childhood Conference.
The conference continued to grow rapidly in size and participant diversity and once again gained a new identity. In 1990 – the Infant and Early Childhood Conference (IECC) – garnered new sponsorship from federal and state agencies. In May 2000, the conference celebrated its 20th anniversary with the goodwill and support of more than 20 government, nonprofit, and corporate sponsors; dedicated committees representing more than 35 schools, agencies, and organizations; and the generous participation of nearly 135 presenters and 60 exhibitors.
The Infant and Early Childhood Conference is held in the Tacoma area. The conference can attract up to 2,000 participants, including presenters, exhibitors, and guests. Audience members will include parents, special educators, paraprofessionals, service providers in developmental and neuro-developmental centers, Head Start and Early Head Start staff, agency administrators, case managers, health care professionals, child care providers, and others interested in young children with special needs. Several Preconference sessions will offer an array of intensive, often advanced, full-day training sessions. The two-day conference follows with a blend of national keynote speakers, more than 100 breakout sessions, and extensive exhibits.