Embracing African American Children and Families' Unique Qualities

Welcome to the 11th Annual African American Children and Families Conference and the 16th Annual UNI African American Read-In for 2022. We at the University of Northern Iowa are proud and honored to offer our second virtual African American conference and read-in due to Covid-19 and related experiences. We will still provide high-quality and culturally relevant presentations for our participants by great presenters and speakers that meet the needs of children and families. This year these events have continued with the support of the university’s administration due to the urgency of some of the needs of families and children. There is an international cry for attitudinal and social justice changes, actions and demonstration of caring and sharing in bettering the lives of children and families locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Please join us virtually for another great year of helping to spread the word that we all should embrace children and families’ uniqueness.

Who should attend the conference:  Pre-service and in-service teachers, administrators, childcare providers, law enforcement, policy makers, social workers, health professionals, business leaders, employers, students, faculty, community members and anyone committed to improving the lives of children! 


The College of Education started this conference 11 years ago with hopes of promoting diversity and better understanding among all people as we strive to help children attain positive goals in life through our educational mission. This conference engages local, state, regional, national and international stakeholders in meaningful dialogue and problem solving to serve African American children, families, communities and allies as we network to strengthen our collective perspectives on our campus community.

Why This Conference Matters?

Cries all over the world cause us to focus on the needs of children and families. The cries of  African American children and families among those cries. With the pandemic, record numbers of deaths and illnesses, for the first time children are among some of the sickest in our populations. Some believe the health change is a direct result of the Delta variant. While others have differing views. Still we must reach out, hear the cries and strive to make a difference. This conference is needed now more than ever before because there are so many changing and lifelong changes. Our educational system is faced with differing viewpoints on critical race theories, what teachers can teach as well as what materials can be used as a part of the curriculum. Parents are playing a major role in their child’s educational experiences than ever before. There are challenges as to whether children should wear masks and if so, when? There are also challenges about the various types of mandates. For example, California is one of the first school districts to mandate student vaccinations for the age group where vaccines have been approved.

Our conference theme this year is  "Embracing African American  Children and Families' Unique Qualities." It is our belief that if we embrace and respect individual unique qualities that there will be a better understanding among people.

There is a continual gathering of research and data on the impact of children being out of school and now going back in person. This has caused some delays for children and additional stress upon families as they strive to provide the best support for their children. Teachers and educators continue to grapple with adjustments in their own lives as well as providing high quality learning experiences for their students. This conference focuses on Black children as well as their families and includes our university students as well as those who can empower them to go out and make a difference in their respective careers and educational fields.

UNI, with this conference, has become a leader in Iowa, regionally and nationally by supporting the need for change and betterment of lives. Having the President and Dean of the College of Education’s support makes it matter by having leading voices and encouragement.

Two girls dancing outside


As we approach the 11th year of the University of Northern Iowa's African American Children and Families Conference, we are happy to present diverse and well-prepared presenters and researchers to share about the lives and experiences of African American children and families. This is one of the few nationally and internationally recognized conferences addressing relevant issues that present a strength-based approach to children and families. Participants are community and state-wide representatives such as educators, faculty, staff, administrators, school personnel, law enforcement, social workers, psychologists, parents as well as middle and high school and university students.

We are a team of supporters ensuring the delivery of culturally relevant information, by providing resources and documentation embracing the power to focus on the unique strengths and qualities of Black children. The emphasis of a strengths-based model decries the all-too-often deficit-focused model imposed upon Black children and their families. With the support of the University of Northern Iowa's administration, faculty, students and representatives of our local and statewide communities, we must forge ahead for the betterment of all people. We must be more determined than ever before that we are assuring that our graduates who leave the university are prepared to make unbiased and supportive decisions as they venture out into the world, working with diverse populations. With Iowa's changing diverse population, the time is now to help embrace the university's strategic plan on diversity, inclusion, and community engagement. We, too, are a part of the mission of the National Black Child Development Institute's message of improving and advancing the quality of life for Black children and their families through education, support, and advocacy.