Q&A With Midwest AEYC
Midwest AEYC was the only regional Affiliate to remain with NAEYC after the Affiliate restructuring process in 2003. Originally comprised of 12 states—Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin—Midwest AEYC brought together more than 20,000 early childhood educators. The Affiliate provided leadership grants to members, offered funding for projects and technical assistance to member state Affiliates, and supported its members through regional conferences.
In 2012, after much discussion among members, board members, national staff, and member state Affiliate board members and executive directors, Midwest AEYC decided to disband. In conversation with NAEYC, Midwest AEYC leaders Kelly Hantak and Brian Kingrey describe the patience, planning, and thinking that went into this complex decision.
Q: What made disbanding Midwest AEYC the right choice?
A: Feedback from state Affiliates played a big part in making the decision to disband. The Midwest AEYC board members, who liaise between the member state Affiliates and Midwest AEYC, brought up a common trend: state Affiliates were relying less on Midwest AEYC than in past years. To better understand this decline, Midwest AEYC surveyed the boards and executive directors of the member Affiliates. The results highlighted some common situations among the member state Affiliates: a decline in membership over many years; an increase in professional development trainings from other organizations (thus reducing the number of members seeking trainings from Midwest AEYC); and an increase in members not knowing they were part of Midwest AEYC and then questioning the regional Affiliate’s purpose. Since Midwest AEYC was committed to receiving only one dollar of membership dues regardless of tough economic times, member state Affiliates began to feel the impact of decreased financial support.
Q:What did you consider when making this decision?
A: We considered Midwest AEYC’s reach and support of others. Many state Affiliates were holding popular online and local trainings (previously provided by Midwest AEYC), which decreased the need for a Midwest AEYC regional conference. Then attendance at our regional leadership summits decreased significantly over the past decade, and several leadership summits took a loss, which depleted Midwest AEYC’s funds. Lower conference registration led to less income, which led to less funding from Midwest AEYC for member state Affiliate projects. Being unable to financially support those projects was a large factor in making the decision to disband.
Q: How does disbanding benefit member state Affiliates?
A: It benefits them financially, professionally, and personally. When joining or renewing NAEYC membership, each Midwest AEYC member automatically paid one dollar to the regional Affiliate. Now those dues remain with the state Affiliate for leadership projects. Disbanding is also beneficial because state Affiliates are more aware of their members’ needs. Over the years Midwest AEYC noticed that the commitments of larger state Affiliates with denser populations were different than those of smaller state Affiliates with dispersed populations. We realized that state Affiliates can do a better job of catering to those needs.
While this change officially breaks up the regional Affiliate, we know that the member state Affiliates developed a strong camaraderie over the past several years. We hope these relationships continue through sharing resources or partnering to develop projects.
Q: Midwest AEYC was the only regional Affiliate to remain after the 2003 restructuring process. What made the Affiliate able to continue at that time?
A: In 2003, Midwest AEYC had a cash reserve that rivaled many state Affiliate accounts. As a result, Midwest AEYC was able to continue its leadership opportunities for early childhood professionals while state Affiliates were forced to restructure. In addition, online trainings were less prevalent than they are today. The need to attend regional conferences sponsored by Midwest AEYC was greater before the presence of the Internet as a viable option for trainings and professional development.
As part of the restructuring process, the Midwest AEYC president held an ex-officio position with the Affiliate Council. The position allowed the regional Affiliate to stay up-to-date with the national organization and maintain positive relationships with state Affiliates across the country. This relationship between NAEYC and Midwest AEYC, coupled with the Affiliates’ strong finances, preserved it as a regional Affiliate at that time.
Q: What are some of the Affiliate’s proudest accomplishments?
A: Midwest AEYC is extremely proud of its status as a regional Affliate, its conferences, and its grants for members. Midwest AEYC
Was the last remaining regional Affiliate since becoming a regional linking group in 1975.
Created many strong relationships and collaborative projects among its 12 member states.
Hosted a large annual conference with high-quality presentations, wonderful networking opportunities, and relevant information for teachers and administrators.
Sponsored the leadership grant projects that benefited young children and their families as well as members. Projects related to mentoring, advocacy, and developmentally appropriate practice and included the development of a family lending library and a science curriculum.
Established the Shirley Dean Award in honor of a Midwest AEYC member who demonstrated exemplary service to the organization. The award was a wonderful way to express appreciation for members’ dedication to the early childhood education field.
Q: What is the legacy of the Affiliate?
A: Midwest AEYC’s legacy has always been closely related to its purpose statement: “To serve member states by providing programs and services that support organization development and leadership development.” The decision to disband has been bittersweet, as we know many members have benefited from the work of the regional Affiliate, but that also makes the decision a little easier to digest. The Midwest AEYC board of directors greatly appreciates all the support it has received over the years from its members and from NAEYC.