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The CWLA 2023 National Conference, Stronger Together: Uniting to Advance Change, was be held April 26-28, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Using CWLA’s guiding principles, this conference highlighted successful strategies for bridging the divide between public and private sectors of child welfare and related systems and the families and communities they serve. For three days, child- and family-serving professionals, families, and community representatives gathered to explore effective ways of deepening their relationships and engaging in more effective collaboration. By harnessing our collective wisdom, we learned how to develop and implement innovative and sustainable solutions that achieve child and family well-being.

True collaboration allows space for everyone’s voice to be heard. CWLA featured workshops from community partners who focus on child and family well-being through childcare, Head Start, housing and other services, as well as from frontline staff and youth and parents with lived expertise. Workshops focused on effective strategies and practices that strengthen families; cross-system partnerships; innovative approaches to service delivery; bolstering the child welfare workforce; strategies for supporting families impacted by mental health, and more.  

As always, the conference was an opportunity to engage with practice and policy colleagues from around the country, with events designed to encourage connection across systems, sectors, and state lines.

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Conference Program & Photos

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A special thank you to our conference sponsors for their generous support!

Conference Schedule

Wednesday, April 26, 2023 (Advocacy Day!)

9:30 am – 11:20 am
Members-Only Pre-Conference Event

11:45 am – 1:15 pm
Opening Plenary & Lunch

1:35 pm – 2:50 pm

3:10 pm – 4:25 pm
Workshops & Roundtables

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Thursday, April 27, 2023

8:00 am – 9:00 am
Coffee in Exhibit Hall

9:20 am – 10:35 am

10:55 am – 12:10 pm

12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Plenary Session & Lunch

2:20 pm – 3:35 pm

Thursday, April 27, 2023 (continued)

3:55 pm – 5:10 pm
Workshops & Roundtables

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Reception in Exhibit Hall

Friday, April 28, 2023

8:00 am – 9:00 am
Coffee in Exhibit Hall

9:15 am – 10:30 am
Workshops & Roundtables

10:50 am – 12:05 pm

12:25 pm – 1:55 pm
Closing Plenary & Lunch

2:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Training Institute

Saturday, April 29, 2023

9:00 am – 9:30 am

9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Training Institute


CWLA’s National Conference, held steps from Capitol Hill, offers a valuable opportunity for agencies to connect directly with their members of Congress. This dialogue is crucial; policymakers need to learn more about the pivotal issues affecting the children and families we serve. CWLA helps facilitate this exchange, by preparing conference attendees with fact sheets and talking points to maximize the impact of their conversations.

 Wednesday, April 26, 2023 was Advocacy Day! 


Wednesday, April 26
Workshops A
1:35 pm – 2:50 pm

A2 – From Federal Law to State Policy: Delivering on the Promise of Qualified Residential Treatment Program Standards 

The Maine Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) leveraged state and community partnerships to be the only state to embed the Family First Qualified Residential Treatment Program Standards into existing Medicaid and licensing rules, making these standards a requirement for all Children’s Residential Care Facilities (CRCF) in Maine. As a result, equity was created across the system so that all youth needing CRCF services, regardless of foster care status, receive the same newly adopted quality standards of care and treatment. OCFS will describe the steps taken towards statewide implementation of these new standards and how they were incorporated into state policy. Participants will also learn about strategies for leveraging state and community partnerships to successfully implement federal and state policy as well as tools and resources created to support implementation.

Presenters: Christine Theriault & Todd Landry; Maine Office of Child and Family Services; Augusta; ME

A3 – Foster Youth Voice Month: Framing Futures 

Embedding the voices of youth with lived experience in the child welfare system is an adaptive challenge that requires a paradigm shift in the hearts and minds of professionals; we must value youth as organizational assets. Our presentation will examine this issue from all sides – hearing from youth with lived experience, reviewing the research on youth engagement and framing, and learning about innovative approaches that are being tested in the field. We will also share findings from research on re-framing youth who are transition aged, discuss how the insight gained from this research led to the creation of Foster Youth Voice Month, and will share perspectives on the importance of the voices of youth.

Presenters: Elizabeth Wynter, Selfless Love Foundation, Tallahassee, FL; Marisa Gerstein Pineau, FrameWorks Institute, Washington, DC; Natalie Clark, Utah Department of Health and Human Services, Salt Lake City, UT 

A4 – Motivational Interviewing During Times of Crisis: Shifting from Blame to Change

In this workshop, participants will be introduced to the application of safety science in child welfare and how to incorporate concepts of this approach into critical incident reviews. Critical incident reviews, through the lens of safety science, allow participants a safe space to be part of the solution for organizational system change. Participants will learn to combine the heart of motivational interviewing and the foundations of psychological safety following the most tragic event in child welfare: the fatality of a child. Participants will learn to collaborate with front line staff and executives, acknowledge staff’s expertise of what works best within their systems, how to meet staff with compassion, and how to provide the space for individuals to advocate for their needs.

Presenters: Ashley Krumbach & Lauren Zylla-Whetstone, Indiana Department of Child Services, Indianapolis, IN      

A5 – Collaborative Approaches to Supporting and Affirming Children and Youth Who Are LGBTQIA+ and in Child Welfare

This presentation will cover Massachusetts Department of Children and Families’ comprehensive approach to strengthening policies, programs, and services that protect, support, and affirm children and youth served by the Department who are LGBTQIA+. Presenters will highlight successful approaches for data collection, policy development, and increasing partnership and collaboration with advocates and those with lived expertise. This presentation will also highlight the Department’s new Gender Affirming Medication Consent Policy and best practices for developing champions for LGBTQIA+ practice within an organization.

Presenters: Dimple Patel & Emily Hajjar & Linda Sagor, Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, Boston, MA

A6 – Building and Implementing a Family First CQI Framework: Accomplishments and Lessons Learned

This session will highlight the Kentucky Department of Community Based Services’ (DCBS) experience measuring and monitoring the initial and ongoing implementation of its Family First Prevention Services plan. Participants will learn about DCBS’ accomplishments and lessons learned building an infrastructure to collect the evidence needed to fuel a continuous quality improvement (CQI) process that engages a broad array of stakeholders in solution-finding. Participants will also hear how data and evidence from the Family First CQI process is being integrated into the agency’s broader CQI system to inform Child and Family Services Review preparations. Key components of Chapin Hall’s prevention services measurement framework will be shared, and participants will have an opportunity to explore where they are on their own prevention services CQI journey.

Presenters: Yolanda Green-Rogers, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Jennifer Thornhill, Kentucky Department for Community Based Services, Frankfort, KY; Tiffany Mullis, Kentucky Department of Community Based Services, Independence, KY

A7 – The Trauma C.A.R.E. Model: A Relational Approach for Parents in Recovery 

The Trauma CARE Model provides a relational approach in service of families affected by early adverse experiences (and substance use disorder). This model outlines the core components for trauma-responsive care for parent-child systems and includes the core components of a replicable framework, applicable across a full continuum of care. Through discussion, storytelling, and engaging, reflective activities, participants will explore the process of creating a culture of safety and nurturance, the role of parallel process and co-regulation, and will develop a menu of evidence-based dyadic interventions that can be implemented by both front line and clinical staff. Participants will create a plan to include client choice and voice in treatment planning and develop a template for measurement-informed care at their agencies.

Presenters: Gina Del Jones, The Center for Great Expectations, Somerset, NJ; Emily Bosk, Rutgers University School of Social Work, New Brunswick, NJ; Jennifer Unger & Carolyn Flynn, The Center for Great Expectations, Somerset, NJ

A8 – Navigating the Child Welfare System and the Critical Need for Culturally Responsive Service

The Sacramento County Cultural Broker (SCCB) Program is specifically designed to address issues of African American disparities and disproportionality in the child welfare system by providing culturally responsive advocacy and liaison services for families referred to and/or involved with the child welfare system. This presentation will demonstrate how the SCCB model can reduce entry rates, increase kinship placements, and reduce length of time in care. Additionally, this presentation will highlight that when child welfare works alongside community, stronger safety nets are built, there is an increase in the engagement of fathers, and linkages to culturally responsive services can take place. We will demonstrate how the model amplifies and lifts up the need for equity in services for families that are African American – including in the prevention of foster care entries.

Presenters: Kim Pearson & Tiffany Glass, Sacramento County Department of Child, Family and Adult Services, Sacramento, CA; LaDonna Lee, Better Life Children’s Services, Sacramento, CA

A9 – Show Me Solutions: Thinking Outside the Box During the Capacity Crisis

Human Services is facing an unprecedented capacity crisis in which there is not only more work than can be kept up with, but also an all-time high vacancy rate for people to do the work. Child welfare, in particular, has seen increased complexity in casework, an increase in requirements for compliance, and excessive turnover rates never seen before. The old adage of “we just need more people” is no longer feasible and, in most cases, no longer rings true. To regain a proactive approach to casework, offer relief and benefits to staff, and provide better outcomes for children and families, the narrative needs to change. In this workshop, you’ll hear Missouri’s initiative to approach the work differently, find capacity in unlikely areas, and, ultimately, serve citizens in a more holistic, comprehensive way through process re-design.

Presenters: Joanie Rogers & Sara Smith & Teri Armistead, Missouri Department of Social Services, Jefferson City, MO

Wednesday, April 26
Workshops B
3:10 pm – 4:25 pm

B1 – A Mixed-Methods Analysis of State Title IV-E Prevention Program 5-year Plans  

Through a partnership between child welfare researchers at the University of Georgia (School of Social Work), Georgia State University (Andrew Young School of Policy Studies), and the Child Welfare League of America, this empirical mixed-methods qualitative study analyzed state Title IV-E Prevention Program 5-year plans and interviewed key leaders in a select number of public child welfare agencies to ascertain the extent FFPSA is meeting its intended objectives.

Presenters: Harold Briggs, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; Julie Collins, CWLA, Annapolis, MD

B2 – Adapting an Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) to Meet the Diverse Needs of Youth in Oregon’s Child Welfare System: the KEEP Model 

This workshop will focus on the Oregon implementation of KEEP, an evidence-based, 16-week peer support and skill enhancement program for families (resource and kinship). The presenters represent three key partners and perspectives on implementation: the Oregon Child Welfare System, the KEEP model development team, and Oregon’s resource families. Since KEEP expanded statewide in 2019, the program has enrolled more than 2,500 families from every Oregon county. We will discuss adapting an EBP to meet the diverse needs of families, with an emphasis on ways KEEP is tailored to support youth who are LGBTQIA+ and youth in transcultural placements. We will share strategies for partnerships between state agencies and an EBP that improves services without overburdening an already overburdened workforce, as well as approaches for establishing a bilateral flow of data between an EBP and state agency leadership to enhance service delivery by both organizations.

Presenters: Katie Bennett, Oregon Social Learning Center Developments, Inc., Eugene, OR; Catherine Lewis-Anthony, Oregon Department of Human Services, Child Welfare, Salem, OR; LaShaun Brooks, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 

B3 – Effective Engagement and Service Delivery to Fathers Involved with Child Welfare Agencies

This presentation will focus on effective engagement and service delivery to fathers. The benefits of father engagement are well-documented, so are the challenges when fathers are disengaged. In many cases, the absence of a father contributes to increased risk of child maltreatment. Unfortunately, the interventions of child welfare agencies have mostly been ineffective at strengthening family protective factors due to the lack of ongoing father inclusion efforts, and limited access to gender responsive support services. Our agency is currently exploring how we partner with divisions across the Department of Family Services to enhance service delivery to all men, not just fathers, who need or seek social services.

Presenters: Oriane Eriksen & Bennie Herron & Mercedes Alonzo, Fairfax County Department of Family Services, Fairfax, VA

B4 – Enabling Policy Context to Prevent Child Welfare Involvement Through Economic & Concrete Supports 

Jurisdictions across the country are reorienting child welfare upstream towards prevention and including the provision of economic and concrete supports (ECS) as part of a comprehensive service array. New efforts are emerging to partner across systems to create an enabling policy context that expands availability of macroeconomic policies, increases innovation with available resources, and reduces restrictive policies and administrative barriers. This session will describe an enabling macro-level policy context for prevention, provide examples of states engaged in policy change via a learning community to further primary prevention through ECS, and explore an evidence-based policymaking tool (State Options to Increase Access to ECS as a Child Welfare Prevention Strategy) that can be used to assess the policy context in their own states.

Presenters: Yasmin Grewal-Kok & Jennifer Gaul-Stout & Leanne Heaton, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Meg Dygert, The American Public Human Services Association, Arlington, VA; Suzanne Miles-Gustave, New York State Office of Children and Family Services, Rensselaer, NY

B5 – Foster Care Done Differently: Shifting from Support to Supervision within an Indigenous Framework 

This presentation will expound the program development and implementation of a new and unique trauma-informed wraparound Therapeutic Foster Care program in Alberta, Canada for youth aged 13-17. The foundation of the program is an Indigenous practice framework developed with Elders in ceremony. Indigenous stages of child development (the Turtle Lodge teachings) create the basis for caregivers’ understanding of the youth in their care. Through innovative recruitment and by treating caregivers as practitioners (the primary change agent), and providing them with robust onboarding, training, and clinical supervision, we can dramatically change the experiences of youth living in foster care and their families.

Presenters: Natalie Crawford Cox, The Family Centre of Northern Alberta, Edmonton, AB; Meredith Greig, The Family Centre of Northern Alberta, Edmonton, AB 

B6 – CQI, Data, and Authentic Inclusion: A Five-Year Journey to Improve Permanency Outcomes

The Capacity Building Center for States was contracted to provide implementation technical assistance to the Strengthening Child Welfare Systems. These grantees were awarded funds in 2018, through the Children’s Bureau, to implement strategies that demonstrate an impact on permanency outcomes related to the Child and Family Services Reviews process over a five-year period. These strategies range from legal representation, coaching models, increasing worker retention, family-centered practice models, and focusing on permanency from day one. TA providers, select grantee representatives, and a person with lived expertise will share their journeys through strategies being developed and implemented, the authentic inclusion of people with lived expertise, and use of continuous quality improvement.

Presenters: Heather Hendley & Tori Russell, ICF, Capacity Building Center for States, Everett, MA; Ann Lindsey-Mowery, Embrace Families, Orlando, FL; Stefanie Harmon, Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families, Olympia, WA 

B7 – Promoting a Culture of Shared Learning: New England Regional Advocacy Creates Systemic Change

Learn how a culture of shared learning contributed to the success of youth advocacy efforts in the New England states. Hear from Youth Advocates who effectively promoted system-wide change by leveraging youth/adult partnerships, designing and implementing research efforts, synthesizing data, and creating recommendations to advance advocacy efforts at the state level.

Presenters: Grey Hilliard-Koshinsky, New England Association of Child Welfare Commissioners and Directors, Boston, MA; Youth Advocate (TBC), New England Youth Coalition, Boston, MA      

B8 – Sustainably Funded: Medicaid Waivers and Wraparound Success 

Magellan Health in Louisiana has successfully administered the Coordinated System of Care (CSoC) based on the wraparound framework and principles for youth and families with the most complex behavioral health needs. This presentation will look at sustaining wraparound through Medicaid waivers, quality measurement, and a drive to outcomes that matter. The goal of this presentation is to inform system of care stakeholders of effective and sustainable practices based on a model CSoC program in Louisiana. Participants will evaluate strategies for an effective statewide implementation of a CSoC based on a wraparound model; identify factors that enhance sustainability of a Medicaid wraparound program as a children’s behavioral health specialty program; and discuss the utilization of Child and Adolescent Strengths and Needs to meet waiver requirements and monitor outcomes.

Presenters: Barbara Ann Dunn & Syralja Griffin, Magellan Health of Louisiana, Shreveport, LA

B9 – The Impact of Enhanced Kinship Navigation on Caregivers and their Children

This presentation will provide an overview of the impact of an enhanced Kinship Navigator program on kinship caregivers and the children in their care. Presenters will share the essential components of the enhanced model and will provide an overview of both quantitative and qualitative outcomes that children and caregivers in the pilot sites experienced. Attendees will be invited to reflect on opportunities to enhance Kinship Navigator programs in their own communities.

Presenters: Rosalyn Alber, Washington Department of Social and Health Services, Lacey, WA; Geene Delaplane, Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families, Olympia, WA; Angelique Day, University of Washington, Seattle, WA                        

Thursday, April 27
Workshops C
9:20 am – 10:35 am

C3 – Using Effective Communication to Advance Systems Transformation and Build Partnerships 

Child welfare professionals support families and make positive daily impacts, but child welfare work is often only visible to community members when tragedy occurs. This is a problem because one entity cannot solve all of a community’s issues. Instead, it requires concerted, collective efforts among all stakeholders to build family support and community-based child protection systems. Join us for a highly interactive workshop where we will discuss the impacts of improved communication, how to frame the narrative to collectively move towards an aspirational worldview, and pro tips on crafting and sharing your messages. We will focus on strategies that aim to build public support, strengthen the workforce, improve partnerships, and increase community collaboration for systems change.

Presenters: Sharon Kollar & Michelle Clinch, National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, Portland, OR

C4 – Field Insights Applied to a Toolkit to Enhance Identification of Children with Prenatal Substance Exposures

Prenatal exposure to alcohol and other drugs can have detrimental lifelong effects. Children with such exposures in the child welfare system are often not identified and there are missed opportunities to provide supportive care. This session outlines a comprehensive toolkit that will facilitate child welfare agencies and professionals in enhancing practices to identify and provide resources for children with prenatal substance exposures and their families. Panelists, including project team members, individuals with lived expertise, and child welfare professionals, will describe key contributions and share insights regarding the toolkit, which is aimed at improving outcomes and preserving families of origin.

Presenters: Erin Ingoldsby, James Bell Associates, Arlington, VA; Sharon Newburg-Rinn; Children’s Bureau, ACF, HHS, Washington, DC; Jacquelyn Bertrand, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA; LaToya Whitfield, Proof Alliance, Minneapolis, MN; Nancy Young, Children and Family Futures, Lake Forest, CA

C5 – Collaborative Intervention within Rural Tribal Communities

This presentation will focus on evidence based Indigenous Parenting Programs specific to Tribal Families.  The presentation will also focus on the Public Child Welfare Sector and the importance of cultural competency when working with Tribal Families. These cultural competencies are specific to tribes, and need to be understood in great detail when caseworkers are trying to work collaboratively with Tribal Families. This includes understanding cultural parenting practices, how the parents were parented, and even understanding the Tribe specific Historical Trauma. This understanding will help caseworkers better approach the needs of Tribal Families.

Presenters: Michelle Bradach & Tasha Schaff, Oregon Department of Human Services, Burns, OR

C6 – Transforming a Child Welfare System into a Child and Family Well-Being System

The ability to leverage relationships with public, private, and nonprofit partners is critical to achieving true systems change. Drawing from DC Child and Family Services Agency’s experiences over the past two years as a Thriving Families, Safer Children (TFSC) Round 2 Jurisdiction, this presentation provides an empirical guide for how to get started and move to action to transform a child welfare system into a child and family well-being system. Presenters will show how to meaningfully engage people with lived expertise, provide examples of working with university and community partners to develop leadership certifications and promote healing, and outline how DC is using the social-ecological model as a framework for system vision setting, implementation, and evaluation.

Presenters: Natalie Craver & Sharafdeen Ibraheem, DC Child and Family Service Agency, Washington, DC

C7 – Empowering and Preserving Families Across Systems with Permanency Mediation

Our Permanency Mediation model, developed in collaboration with the Juvenile Court and the Department of Children and Families, uses the principles of mediation and permanency interventions as alternatives to contested court proceedings for children in foster care. Our work unites parents, families, social workers, attorneys, and service providers in a non-adversarial process to resolve case related issues and concerns. We address unique issues involved in care and protection, guardianship, and termination of parental rights proceedings. The model uses an independent third party to mediate a child-centered approach to permanency planning and ensures parents drive the development of plans for their child’s future – empowering and preserving families. 

Presenters: Julia Pearson & Susan Glatki, Plummer Youth Promise, Salem, MA; Jaime Caron, Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, Northampton, MA

C8 – Journey to Zero: Community Partnerships to Strengthen Families and Prevent Entry to Care

Journey to Zero (JtoZ) is a 3-year, $7.3M, evidence-based, community/child welfare partnership (2019-2022) for children in care or at high risk for entry. JtoZ offers four rapid response, community services to strengthen families’ capacity to protect their children, expand support networks, and prevent entry to care so children remain safe within their family/culture/community. In this workshop, we will review the outcomes that have been measured: increased child safety (decreased re-opening rate post-closure); improved child stability (prevented entry to care); advanced child permanency (90% remained with family/kin); child kept within their community/culture (85%); cost savings analysis (year 2 data found JtoZ cost $4.3M and saved $40M). Presenters will discuss the implications of these findings and share lessons learned.

Presenters: Deborah Goodman & Sharon Cabrera, Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, ON; Zohra Rahman, YouthLink, Toronto, ON

C9 – A Journey with Youth at the Center: An Approach to Caring for Youth

Supporting youth who experience some of the most significant unmet needs in our systems requires making authentic connections, addressing systemic barriers, and shifting our beliefs about what is possible. This workshop provides an overview of a graphic and conceptual model that guides the Catalyst Center’s approach to uplifting youth-centered care. This model, which can be described as a journey with youth at the center, includes a focus on identity, relational supports, contextual considerations, and phases for supporting youth connection and growth. Participants will learn strategies for engaging youth and aligning their team approach by applying this model to their personal and professional practices, including as a tool for guiding youth/caregiver or youth/care-provider conversation or as a facilitation strategy within care team collaborations.

Presenters: Cornelle Jenkins & Kelsie Tatum Martinez, California Alliance of Child and Family Services/Catalyst Center, Camarillo, CA; James Freeman, Training Grounds LLC, Simi Valley, CA 

C10 – Housing Youth & Families Who Have Been Involved with Foster Care and Child Welfare

Housing is a basic need for everyone. Youth who have been in foster care, and families in the process of adoption, reunification and prevention, face even more barriers to securing stable and adequate housing. Collaboration between traditional child welfare partners (i.e., Department of Children and Families and Guardian ad Litem) as well as housing partners (i.e., local public housing authorities, Homeless Trust), and other local partners, can reduce instances of homelessness. Moreover, achieving housing stability can prevent reentry into “the system”. This presentation will showcase how collaboration amongst various entities can assist in the prevention of homelessness and demonstrate how agencies can access resources to develop housing and related supportive services in their areas.

Presenters: Gianfranco Patuzzo, Citrus Family Care Network, Miami, FL; Carlos Laso, Miami Dade County Homeless Trust, Miami, FL; Jason Ruiz, Hialeah Housing Authority, Miami, FL

C11 – Going Upstream: Cultural Networking with a Community to Serve the Health Needs of Families Who Are Black

This workshop details an innovative, community-based initiative, originally established to thwart the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic among families across the African Diaspora. This network of 60 cross-sector partners evolved into an effective, equity driven, one-stop health program that connects families who are Black with healthcare providers who understand the significance of culture in providing healthcare, while adapting to meet family needs within their respective community context, and demonstrating commitment to timely, quality, and responsive care. The presenters will highlight dynamic approaches to mobilizing community partners to invest in a tailored health engagement model that: increases the utilization of medical and mental health services; links families to essential resources where families live, work, and socialize; stabilizes families vulnerable to child welfare intervention; supports families at high risk for adverse health outcomes; and advances evidence-based public policies across institutions which empower the holistic well-being of families who are Black.

Presenters: Jasilyn Morgan & Sheryl Brissett Chapman & Ralph Belk & Krystal Holland, National Center for Children and Families, Bethesda, MD

C12 – Unconditional Care vs. Wraparound

This presentation will compare current thinking about Unconditional Care and Wraparound services. Learning objectives include: the primacy of Unconditional Care in the provision of services for families with children and adolescents with unique emotional needs; the importance of Family Voice and Choice in the provision of these services; examples of non-Wraparound Unconditional Care programs. Presenters will offer their expertise and recommendations for moving forward.

Presenters: Ira Lourie, San Mar Family and Community Services, Hagerstown, MD; Karl Dennis, Karl W. Dennis & Associates, Michigan City, IN; Sue Smith, Georgia Parent Support Network, Atlanta, GA              

C13 – Leaning into the Engagement of Fathers 

In this workshop, we will examine the ways in which child protective service practice is currently limited in its approach to engaging with family members in non-custodial roles, and acknowledge that a large segment of this population are fathers. We will acknowledge the importance of applying an equitable level of diligent efforts to search for and engage with paternal and maternal sides of families. We will discuss strategies for identification of additional engagement opportunities for the paternal side of the family as well as opportunities to involve them in support and solutions. Additionally, we will examine opportunities to include parents in non-custodial roles at various points throughout the service episode.

Presenter: Rick Dencer, Kinnect Ohio, Cleveland, OH

C14 – Applying an Equity Lens to Collaborative Practice when Implementing Plans of Safe Care

This session invites public and private sectors of child welfare and related systems to consider strategies for applying an equity lens when developing and implementing Plans of Safe Care. Child welfare, public health, courts, substance use and mental disorder treatment staff, and other community partners desire to provide quality care and services to families facing substance use issues. This session will delineate actionable strategies for partners who acknowledge the presence of disproportionality and disparities throughout their systems and want to mitigate the effects of those disparities.

Presenters: Latonya Adjei-Tabi & Teri Kook, National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, Lake Forest, CA

Thursday, April 27
Workshops D
10:55 am – 12:10 pm

D1 – The 4 C’s of Workforce Development: Culture, Competency, Capacity, and Community

For 70 years, CWLA’s Standards of Excellence (SOEs) have played a unique role in shaping quality child welfare practice. This workshop will highlight strategies aligned with the following two workforce-related principles addressed in two new volumes of SOEs that will be released this summer: the workforce is diverse, well resourced, appropriately compensated, prepared, and responsive; the organizational culture is safe, supportive, trauma-informed, values ongoing learning, and is rooted in equity, inclusion, and belonging. The presenters will provide meaningful action steps agencies can take to incorporate the SOEs into new and existing strategies to support employee wellness, professional development, and community partnerships to promote workforce wellness and positive outcomes for families connected to child welfare agencies.

Presenters: Julie Collins, CWLA, Washington, DC; Alycia Blackwell, Fairfax County Department of Family Services, Fairfax, VA; Terrell Thomas, Stanford Sierra Youth & Families, Sacramento, CA; Bacall Hinks, Wellsprings Child and Family Counseling, Salt Lake City, UT

D2 – Rural Substance Use Prevention: Keeping Families at Home

When substance use leads to neglect or abuse, children tend to be removed from their homes. This presentation will discuss creative ways that substance use programs can focus on treatment for families while keeping children safe at home. Rural communities, in particular, should focus on assisting families with basic living and safety concerns, trauma factors, and developing new relationships. Issues with provider shortages and limited inpatient resources have affected families in rural areas even more than in urban ones. Rural communities can pair counselors, recovery coaches, and peer mentors with families to help keep children home.

Presenter: Susan Montague, Saint Francis Ministries, Salina, KS

D3 – Overuse of Psychiatric Medication in the Child Welfare System: Judicial, Legal, and Psychiatric Perspectives

Multiple studies have concluded that youth in the child welfare system are prescribed psychiatric medication at a rate significantly higher than other populations of children. Many, if not most, of them have experienced trauma or adverse life events. Instead of providing trauma-based interventions, medications – often prescribed off-label with little proven benefit but significant risk – are used to control behavior and anger. Compounding the problem is the lack of true informed consent. In addition, when parents refuse to consent, even if their objection is reasonable, the medications are often administered over their objections. It is therefore important for judges, lawyers, advocates, caseworkers, child welfare administrators, therapists and others who interface with children in the child welfare system to understand the causes of overmedication, the “red flags” that can help them recognize situations where the child’s treatment with psychiatric medications may be problematic, and possible solutions from the judicial, legal, and psychiatric perspectives.

Presenters: Martin Irwin, NYU Grossman School on Medicine, NY; Ernestine Gray, Retired Juvenile Court Judge, LA

D4 – SBCT meets START: An Adapted Relational Model for Children 0-3 in the Child Welfare System 

This interactive presentation offers a new framework for working with children ages 0-3 who are involved in the child welfare system. Through case-based learning and reflective activities, participants will gain tools to support caregiving relationships that promote normative development of children living between biological and foster/kinship homes. In this workshop, we will: define a relationship-based model that supports evidence-based therapeutic interventions for recognizing and responding to trauma-related behaviors in children with attachment disruption; practice techniques to reduce stigma related to parents involved in the child welfare system and increase participation by all caretakers in family team meetings and court appearances; and review educational materials to decrease stigma and increase understanding of trauma for families and family court judges.

Presenters: Carolyn Flynn, The Center for Great Expectations, Somerset, NJ; Davetta Ford & Erica Fischer-Kaslander, New Jersey Safe Babies Court Team, Wayne, NJ 

D5 – Filling in the Cracks: Building a Coordinated Community Response to Children Experiencing Domestic Violence

Domestic violence (DV) cases in the child welfare system can be complex and challenging. This presentation highlights the importance of coordinated community responses to address issues of children exposed to DV and the critical role child welfare practitioners play in intervention. Presenters will describe how a local Department of Family Services created a coordinated community response to children experiencing DV, the best practices it utilizes, and the importance of strong relationships between child welfare and DV agencies. Presenters will provide examples of collaborative ways to strengthen the response to families experiencing DV to ensure that the safety of adult survivors is connected to the safety of child survivors using a trauma-informed approach. Attendees are encouraged to attend the workshop with a multidisciplinary colleague from their jurisdiction.

Presenters: Brittany Vera & Kevin Ochs, Fairfax County Division of Children, Youth, and Families, Fairfax, VA 

D6 – Reconsidering Resilience: Applying Safety Science to Improve Child Welfare

Safety science is a multidisciplinary field of research and practice concerned with creating and sustaining safety in high-risk industries where professionals make high-impact decisions, like child welfare. Safety science informs a “safety culture”, or how an organization’s values, attitudes, and behaviors support safe, effective, reliable care. In a safety culture, organizations seek to promote learning, even after poor outcomes, using a non-punitive, systems-focused approach that emphasizes shared accountability and leads to actionable change. The principles of safety science challenge us to understand resilience as a property of the system, as opposed to the individual. We focus on how team-based practices and perspectives – such as building psychological safety, mindful organizing, and workplace connectedness – can help to build resilience at the system level.

Presenters: Michael Cull & Elizabeth Riley, Center for Innovation in Population Health, Lexington, KY

D7 – Installing a Community Pathway to Family First Prevention Services: Initial Implementation Strategies 

Recognizing the challenges of working within the child welfare paradigm, numerous jurisdictions have included innovative community pathways to prevention services as a key strategy within their title IV-E Prevention Program Plans. Connecticut will share its experiences and lessons learned as it navigated the installation and initial implementation stages of its Family First prevention services. Presenters will share strategies for developing the Request for Proposals that guided the selection of the state’s Care Management Entity (CME), and the specific considerations that were applied to ensure that the successful bidder could fulfill Connecticut’s vision for the CME while adhering to Federal requirements. The workshop will include information about initial efforts to stand up the CME, including capacity building strategies and roadblocks experienced.

Presenters: Sharon Davis, Connecticut Department of Children and Families, Hartford, CT; Olivia Wilks & Krista Thomas, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, Minneapolis, MN

D8 – Primary Prevention to Reduce the Negative Impacts of Social Determinants of Health in Child Welfare 

Imagine a Child Well-Being System wherein 90% of children remain with their biological families. Since much of our well-being is associated with social and economic factors, it is reasonable to focus our efforts on addressing the negative impacts of Social Determinants of Health, or the conditions in the environment that impact our ability to live, laugh, love, learn, and labor. The Family First Prevention Services Act provides some insight on what we can do to address Social Determinants of Health through a primary prevention lens. Examples of primary prevention will be discussed, and participants will have the opportunity to create an example of a policy and/or program that could be implemented.

Presenter: Gary Pate, Centene, Chicago, IL

D9 – Resilient Communities: Shifting from Individual Responsibility to Shared Strategies

Resilient Communities shifts the responsibility for primary prevention away from individual responsibility and towards shared strategies, and helps communities raise awareness of and leverage their existing strengths to increase collective capacity to support families and enhance child well-being. Working together, siloed programs and organizations can better change norms, environments, and behaviors to foster trauma- and healing-informed communities. Participants will learn about how this evidence-informed, community-led process looks in South Dakota, and leave with concrete ideas for how to build upon existing leadership capabilities and social networks to engage all sectors in meaningful child abuse prevention within their own communities.

Presenters: Darla Biel, Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment, Sioux Falls, SD; Nikki Eining, Avera Behavioral Health of Brookings, Brookings, SD 

D10 – Involving Fathers in their Children’s Lives

This presentation will give participants information to: help improve policies and practice in child welfare by providing tools to engage fathers in their children’s lives; strengthen and preserve families by restoring fathers to family life; and reduce the need for foster care and adoptive homes by including the father and his extended family as a placement resource. Participants will partake in a group activity in which they will identify their position on issues regarding father-involvement. Next, the presenters will examine the roles and importance of fathers in their children’s lives. Presenters will then recognize barriers to father-involvement, followed by offering strategies to overcome these barriers and support fathers with their children.

Presenters: Michelle Reines, National Family Preservation Network, Asheville, NC; Todd Hickman, Health Connect America, Inc., Memphis, TN

D11 – Revisioning Therapeutic Foster Care: Transformation of the Connecticut System with Functional Family Therapy (FFT) 

Let’s face it, evidence-based family therapy models are complex and difficult to implement, particularly on a large scale. Or are they? In this session, we will discuss the successful implementation of FFT statewide in Foster Care and the needed ingredients for success. FFT in Foster Care is a family-focused and trauma-informed treatment model specifically designed to be used in the foster care system. The model is a comprehensive & systematic approach to helping families overcome individual and relational trauma to promote stable foster care placements and reunification. We will provide a brief overview of the model and share experiences from the perspective of the state and the FFT training organization, demonstrating why this project continues to excel despite numerous challenges along the way.

Presenters: Tom Sexton & Marta Anderson, FFT Partners, New York, NY; Nicole McKelvey-Walsh, Connecticut Department of Children and Families, Hartford, CT 

D12 – A Training Lifeline for Caregivers: A Collaboration between Centene and the National Foster Parent Association  

The National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) recognizes that well-trained, respected and appropriately supported families (foster, kinship, and adoptive) achieve greater success with the children entrusted into their care. Due to the strong commitment of the NFPA Board of Directors, and with the support of Centene, the NFPA Training Institute was launched in 2020 to provide quality educational and training workshops/webinars to parents seeking help in parenting. This accessible, evidence-based training is available free of charge 24/7, 365 days a year, thanks to a unique partnership between an MCO and a caregiver-led organization.

Presenters: Karen Poteet & Arnold Eby, National Foster Parent Association, Hagerstown, MD; Cheryl Fisher, Centene Corporation, Houston, TX 

D13 – Serving Youth Who Are LGBTQIA, Birth to Twenty 

Although much progress has been made with the acknowledgment, acceptance, and (when needed) mental health treatment of youth who are LGBTQIA, there remain many misconceptions and deficits for this population. One Hope United has taken a unique approach to meeting the needs of the students in our early learning program through the youth and young adults in our congregate care programs. This workshop will explore the critical role early childhood educators play in setting the foundation to safely explore gender through the creation of gender-neutral programs, and discuss how our residential services meet the needs of the LGTBQIA community within a congregate care setting. Some topics that will be addressed include partnering with parents, use of literacy in programs, co-morbidity with trauma (best practice treatment), addressing fear and ignorance, and much more!

Presenters: Melissa Webster & Kenneth Shackleford & Juliana Harms, One Hope United, Chicago, IL

D14 – Authentic Child and Youth Engagement in Program Development: How to Practice What We Preach

This presentation provides an overview of how the voices of people with lived expertise were embedded throughout the planning and implementation of the Quality Improvement Center on Engaging Youth in Finding Permanency (QIC-EY). The QIC-EY is charged with advancing child welfare programs and practice to ensure that they are authentically engaging and empowering children and youth, especially in relation to permanency decisions. The QIC-EY is expected to change the mindsets of child welfare professionals and court personnel in 6-8 pilot sites, leading youth to be recognized as competent, knowledgeable parties who deserve input and decision-making power about their lives. Presenters will share lessons learned and facilitate discussion on ways agencies can partner with people with lived expertise in meaningful and respectful ways to produce systems change.

Presenters: Angelique Day, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; Phoenix Santiago, New England Association of Child Welfare Commissioners and Directors, East Hartford, CT; Tawanna Brown, National Youth Engagement Advisory Council, South Orange, NJ

Thursday, April 27
Workshops E
2:20 pm – 3:35 pm

E2 – InstruMENtal: Recognizing the Importance of the Male Role in Child Welfare

For years CWLA has been asking males within child welfare why many men in the field often feel overlooked and under-utilized. With feedback from resource and kinship dads, direct staff, managers, supervisors, and community members, we have developed an initiative designed to make intentional efforts to ensure all members of our professional team are valued and included. 5 areas of focus have been identified that individuals, agencies, and community providers can utilize to maximize the assets men in child welfare bring to the table. Ensuring males feel included and heard can impact resource parent recruitment, staff retention, and overall organizational culture. Please join us in lively session, where we will rely on networking and shared experiences to further this nationwide effort.

Presenter: Marcus Stallworth, CWLA, Washington DC

E3 – Creating a Kin-First Agency Culture Requires a Kin-First Court Culture

Learn from the perspective of a kin caregiver, a judge, an attorney, and an agency leader about how to enhance the use of kin caregiving in individual cases and throughout the community. Effective efforts to prioritize kin caregiving cannot be done through casework alone. Courts and legal partners must also be engaged and committed to implementing laws around kin finding, priority placements, licensing, and supporting normal and prudent parenting in practice.

Presenters: Heidi Redlich Epstein, ABA Center on Children and the Law, Washington, DC

E4 – Supports for Families Affected by Substance Misuse: The Project Connect Model

Informed by an empirical evaluation, this workshop will describe an intensive, home based program model that works with families who are high-risk, affected by parental substance misuse, and involved in the child welfare system. The presenters will describe the program model and the practice approaches that have been found to be most effective when engaging with families on substance misuse and addiction, mental and physical health needs, parenting in recovery, child and family safety, reunification and permanency, and strengthening positive family dynamics. The presenters will also reflect on lessons learned related to optimizing positive child and family outcomes.

Presenters: Valentina Laprade & Rachel Cooper & Jessica Beaupre, Children’s Friend, Providence, RI 

E5 – Keeping Families Together: Uniting Child Welfare, Supportive Housing, and Families to Advance Change 

The Keeping Families Together approach supports transformation and partnership across child welfare and housing systems, providing a framework to align affordable housing with wraparound services that significantly improve family unification, housing stability, strengths, and quality of life. We will describe what these approaches look like in action, challenges and successes in planning and implementation, and how to intentionally work with parents to address challenges related to accessing housing resources. We will explore how the Keeping Families Together Training Academy, co-created with consultants with lived expertise, has successfully guided planning and implementation in local sites.

Presenters: Leah Lindstrom Rhea, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Minneapolis, MN; Kim Prinsen, Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; Amiyoko Shabazz, Consultant, Los Angeles, CA; LaRae Cantley, Social Justice Activist, Los Angeles, CA; Dawn Kinder, Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington, Spokane, WA   

E6 – Supporting the Migrant Child: Pursuing Immigration Relief and Strengthening Families 

Families who are immigrants have already experienced one displacement from their country of origin, making relational connectedness to kin and family in the United States even more important for children in care. This presentation will explore both legal and social work strategies to securing permanency for children who are immigrants – including children who are unaccompanied and youth at risk of aging out. Panelists will review and discuss forms of immigration relief, including SIJS, U and T nonimmigrant status, VAWA, and asylum; the implications of specific forms for both children and their families; and related effects on permanency and reunification. We will recommend trauma-informed and culturally humble strategies for practitioners to engage with children and families early on in the case management process and make appropriate referrals for legal services. Facilitated discussion with legal and social work practitioners will focus on issue spotting, family-finding tools, and countering practices that create and perpetuate disparity in outcomes in the child welfare system.

Presenters: Rachel Konrad & David Marquez & Amy Thompson, Casey Family Programs, Austin, TX

E7 – Trauma-Informed Support for Employee Recruitment and Retention

Improving employee recruitment and retention is challenging in the current environment. Social service professionals are often affected by vicarious trauma, with differential impacts related to their personal histories, roles at work, and other factors. This workshop will provide concrete tools for developing vicarious resilience and recognizing compassion satisfaction. Handouts will include information about the impact of trauma on social service work, tools for developing personal wellness plans, low-cost ideas to implement in agencies, and methods for working with leadership to implement positive changes. These supportive workforce practices can be created and maintained to attract committed social service staff and retain the excellent employees on your teams.

Presenter: Kelli McKnight, Options Counseling and Family Services, Eugene, OR

E8 – Designing an Effective and Sustainable Family & Youth Partnership Model

Stanford Sierra Youth & Families’ Chief of Equity and Partnership and Strategic Initiative Officer will discuss how the organization developed and expanded its Family Youth Partnership Team from a team of 3 to a nationally recognized program model with over 30 professionals partnering with youth and families in county child welfare systems. In this session, attendees will learn: key program components of effective family and youth partnership models; best practices for engaging youth and families from individuals with lived expertise; and successful strategies to address disproportionality, promote equity, cultural humility, and strong racial, cultural, and ethnic identity with family and youth partnership. 

Presenters: Ebony Chambers McClinton & Terrell Thomas, Stanford Sierra Youth and Families, Sacramento, CA 

E9 – The Practice of Mattering: Honoring the Dignity and Worth of Persons and Families in Marginalized Status 

Marginalization can leave a person feeling lost and disconnected from who they are, struggling with mattering or feeling a sense of dignity and worth. According to relational personhood, one’s personhood is constructed and maintained in a social environment, rooted in relationships with others. Support from and a caring relationship with frontline workers can provide transformative experiences that can help persons and families reconceptualize who they are and reconnect to a sense of mattering, dignity, and worth. In this workshop, participants will learn about personhood and the person-centered approach, identifying strategies they can utilize to create experiences of mattering for persons and families in marginalized status.

Presenter: Tawanda Hubbard, Rutgers University School of Social Work, New Brunswick, NJ   

E10 – Private Collaboration to Implement Evidence-Based Programming 

This session will demonstrate how the Arkansas Division of Children & Family Services (DCFS), Public Consulting Group (PCG), and the Family Centered Treatment Foundation (FCTF) communicate and share information to improve programming, assist local providers to improve service delivery, help caseworkers adhere to prevention policy requirements (FFPSA), and measure the extent to which families achieve positive results. Arkansas DCFS is implementing Family Centered Treatment (FCT) across the state as one of its in-home parent-skill-building FFPSA programs. DCFS’ contracted evaluator, PCG, works closely with DCFS, FCT providers, and the FCT Foundation to ensure the program is implemented to fidelity, from both the agency and Foundation’s perspectives. The parties’ active collaboration demonstrates how the trauma-focused program supports family resiliency and improves family well-being.

Presenters: Tim Wood & Laura Boyd, Family Centered Treatment Foundation, Norman, OK; Patti Hibbs, Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services, Little Rock, AR; Karen Hallenbeck, Public Consulting Group, Troy, NY 

E11 – Building and Integrating Benefits Coordination into a Kinship Navigator Program

This workshop will examine the innovative design and comprehensive integration of benefits coordination throughout the OhioKAN Kinship and Adoption Navigator program. The presenters will discuss the outcomes data and impact on benefits support with families engaged in kinship care, and will provide guidance to kinship navigator programs specifically, and family-serving programs broadly, about how and why to integrate benefits coordination support.

Presenters: Samantha Steinmetz, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Amber Robinson, OhioKAN Kinship & Adoption Navigator Program, Cleveland, OH                                                    

E12 – Experts in the Field: How Alumni of Foster Care are Changing the Face of Case Management  

The Community Connections Youth Project (CCYP) and its staff work with youth who are currently or formerly in foster care, ages 17-26. All the staff in our program are alumni of foster care or have lived experience that a youth in care would have experienced. In this presentation, we will discuss how staff are able to provide case-management services while having lived experience themselves and why having lived experience matters. We will cover topics such as coping with vicarious trauma, engaging and building rapport with our clients, how to avoid “trauma dumping”, what lived experience means and how that transfers to the work we do.

Presenters: Jessica Funk & Anthony LaBellarte, FosterAdopt Connect, Springfield, MO 

E13 – A Partnership to Expand Evidence-Based, Trauma-Informed Systems in Rural Central Maine 

The Central Maine Youth Trauma Initiative (CMYTI) is leading the charge to create a sustainable continuum of behavioral healthcare for children from birth to 18. Learn how the MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Edmund N. Ervin Pediatric Center (EEPC) formed CMYTI and partnered with Kennebec Behavioral Health and half a dozen agency partners to provide clinician training for four evidence-based, trauma-focused therapies, and how they are working to build capacity for trauma- and resilience-informed skills and organizational structures in cross-sector, child-serving systems.

Presenters: Kim Magoon, Public Consulting Group LLC, South Portland, ME; Liam Shaw, Edmund N. Ervin Pediatric Center, Augusta, ME; Pat McKenzie, Kennebec Behavioral Health, Augusta, ME 

E14 – Collaborating to Support Early Childhood Education Participation for Children in Foster Care 

Early childhood education (ECE) participation has significant benefits for children and families. ECE participation of children in foster care remains low, despite federal efforts to prioritize enrollment. In this workshop we will present key learnings from University of Minnesota research, centering the voices and experiences of families (foster and biological), child welfare workers, ECE providers, and state agency staff. By attending this workshop, attendees will learn about potential barriers and facilitators to ECE participation for children in foster care and the benefits and challenges of cross-systems collaboration, using Minnesota as a case study. Attendees will be encouraged to apply workshop learnings to their own work and policy environments.

Presenters: Kristine Piescher & Traci LaLiberte & Amy Dorman, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

Thursday, April 27
Workshops F 
3:55 pm – 5:10 pm

F3 – Connectedness in Child Welfare: Building a Strategic Infrastructure to Better Serve our Families

To understand a system is to look towards those who make the structure operate. Through this presentation, we will explain the development of the Indiana Safe Systems program during the outbreak of COVID-19, and detail the evolutionary process of Safety Science with the investment of a psychologically safe environment after a critical incident occurs. We will also introduce how we pioneered a project to find solutions towards building connectedness and embedding safe environments for the purpose of improving child welfare outcomes within local offices. We will end the presentation by reiterating the importance of implementing a team of individuals willing to provide support to staff through an evidence-based curriculum during an unfortunate event.

Presenters: Rachel Parrett & Keith Luebcke & Ashley Kaelin, Indiana Department of Child Services, Indianapolis, IN 

F4 – Going Beyond the Rhetoric of Family Engagement 

There is a great deal of conversation about bringing families into the child welfare arena. However, many agency leaders and managers struggle with how to actually accomplish this. The presenters for this workshop have deep and broad experiences working in, and alongside, community residents and families as part of a broader strategy for family support. This workshop was designed in response to the many agency leaders who struggle with what it means to actually engage with families. The workshop will focus on specific, common-sense approaches to community organizing and family engagement as a component of education, support, and prevention.

Presenters: Paul DiLorenzo, CWLA, Bala Cynwyd, PA; Pebbles Edelman, Partnership for Strong Families, Gainesville, FL; Jada Hunter, Family Support Services, Jacksonville, FL 

F5 – Using an Equity Lens to Improve Child Welfare Decision Making Tools

Child welfare decisions result in families being kept together or children being removed from their homes. As a result, workers and supervisors rely on decision-making tools to guide safety and case planning. These tools are part of systemic structures that can advance equity or perpetuate disparities for families that have been historically underserved by child welfare agencies. So how can child welfare agencies and staff know whether their tools advance equity? During this workshop, we will outline critical analysis strategies for attendees to utilize on their own tools, including equity-focused review criteria and recommendations for improvement. The criteria and recommendations center a diverse collection of families’ worldviews, include principles of social justice and multicultural validity, and assess whether there are opportunities to increase families’ decision-making power.

Presenters: Jaymie Lorthridge, Kaye Implementation & Evaluation, Atlanta, GA; Todd Holder, Action 4 Child Protection, Jarales, NM        

F6 – Addressing Critical Challenges Providers Face in Implementing Sustainable Evidence Based Intervention (EBI) Programs in Family First 

Illinois DCFS developed a Family First plan to prevent foster care placement by increasing the availability of evidence-based mental health and therapeutic parenting interventions. After one year, over one-third of service providers decided not to renew contracts. Evaluators and DCFS implementation support managers will describe how reductions in capacity varied by location, highlight reasons providers discontinued contracts, and identify strategies to support providers – including changes in financing, referral, and client engagement processes. We illustrate how an Implementation Support Team is a meta strategy for building public-private partnerships with providers and enhancing EBI implementation.

Presenters: Stephen Budde & Christy Cashman, Juvenile Protective Association, Chicago, IL; David Ansong & Sarah Hammond, University of North Carolina School of Social Work, Chapel Hill, NC; Stacy Craft, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, IL; Jennifer Marett, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL

F7 – Engagement and Safety Decision-Making in Substance Use Disorder Cases

Substance use disorders are prevalent in families involved in the child welfare system. This session explores the importance of understanding how stigma and language affect engagement and safety decision making for families. Successful family engagement supports a comprehensive assessment of parental protective capacities vital for safety planning. The presenters will highlight the importance of culturally competent collaborative decision-making with community partners to ensure the safety and well-being of children and families.

Presenters: Kim Bishop & Elizabeth Bullock, National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, Lake Forest, CA 

F8 – Research in Muddy Waters: Using Research to Advance System Change When Findings Are Nuanced 

In 2018, five organizations were awarded federal grants to Strengthen Child Welfare Systems through collaborative efforts to improve permanency outcomes for children involved in the child welfare system. In this workshop, the presenters will describe the research activities that were used to understand the short- and long- term impact of these grants, highlighting the wide range of data collection methods used to measure dosage, fidelity, client, and workforce perspectives, and short-term, long-term, and CFSR outcomes. Attendees will then engage in a discussion about: how rigorous evaluation can help understand implementation fidelity and long-term impact; how leadership can use research to understand statewide system change initiatives when research findings are complicated; how program and research teams can partner on CQI to understand implementation; and how nuanced lessons learned can inform future initiatives.

Presenters: Julie Murphy, James Bell Associates, Portland, OR; Alicia Summers, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Reno, NV; Monica Faulkner, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX; Heather Allan, Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect, Aurora, CO    

F9 – It Takes a Village: Using a Wraparound Paradigm for Healing, Reunification, and Permanency   

We know there are high emotional, physical, fiscal, and social consequences with out-of-home placements. The impact of the trauma lasts years and even through generations. Using wraparound services both as preventative and reunification interventions can reduce child welfare involvement and out-of-home placements while strengthening family skills, empowerment, and independence. Wraparound services are holistic, culturally relevant, and logistically convenient for families and include the whole family. Wraparound services help families build teams of resources and collaborators, and develop efficacy and success in managing their own lives. All families can use wraparound and be more successful in ensuring permanency for children and youth.

Presenter: Anne Cornell, CHRIS 180, Atlanta, GA 

F10 – Lift Every Voice: Effective Approaches to Support System-Impacted Youth Leaders on Advisory Boards 

This workshop will share the journey of a county child welfare agency toward incorporating youth voices into its programs and policies, and the challenges, successes, and lessons learned along the way. The presenters will share why incorporating youth voice is important and the impact on youth as well as on child welfare practices and policies. They will present how the Foster Youth Advisory Board fits a child welfare agency’s goals and mission, including what the board has been able to accomplish. The presenters will share research-based, practical strategies for engaging youth from the areas of authentic co-design, positive youth development, and trauma-informed care. Attendees will learn concrete strategies and examples of how staff can support youth to voice their thoughts and convert them into action.

Presenters: Connie Chung, Foster America, Los Angeles, CA; Sandy Barba, San Mateo County Human Services Agency, Belmont, CA; Anjru Jaezon, California Youth Connection, Burlingame, CA; John Fong, San Mateo County Human Services Agency, Belmont, CA                                                                      

F11 – Trauma, Race, and Resilience: Promoting Child Well-being Policies, Programs, and Practices 

The Center on Child Wellbeing and Trauma is on a mission to increase the ability of Massachusetts organizations to be trauma responsive and anti-racist. This workshop will include an overview of the framework and tools needed to build out similar work in your own state and community, and organizational domains for focus to become more racially equitable in child-serving work. Participants will also receive strategies and resources to increase the trauma responsiveness of community organizations in their areas.

Presenters: Audrey Smolkin & Melinda Kneeland, Center on Child Wellbeing & Trauma, Worcester, MA; Melissa Threadgill, Office of the Child Advocate, Boston, MA

F12 – Early-Adolescent Attachment: The Second-Most Critical Attachment Period and an Opportunity for Permanency 

Child welfare initiatives typically focus on two polar initiatives: infant/toddler mental health (the most critical attachment period) and adolescents getting ready to emancipate as adults. However, early adolescence (ages 10-14 years old) is the second-most critical attachment period with specific and unique needs relative to lasting permanency post-placement. In this workshop, we will discuss the results of a recent study on early adolescent attachment, which resulted in new information for the field, why this should be a new area of focus, and what factors child welfare professionals should consider when making permanency decisions for this population.

Presenter: Adrienne Miller, Heartland for Children, Bartow, FL

F13 – Achieving Permanency for Youth Who Are LGBTQ+ and in Foster Care: Strategies for Child Welfare Professionals 

This interactive workshop will provide participants with opportunities to engage in thoughtful discussions around diverse sexual orientations and gender identity expressions (SOGIE); participate in exercises to improve skills; develop strategies to support youth who are LGBTQ+ and in foster care; understand how current practices and policies can limit youth’s permanency outcomes; and hear from youth with lived experience. The workshop will provide participants with the language and understanding of diverse SOGIE; examples of policy and protocols for safe identification; how to ask questions to safely identify youth who are LGBTQ+; and family finding and chosen family strategies and tools to create and ensure permanency through youth centered meetings that can be implemented in child welfare practice.

Presenters: Shannon Deinhart & Sheila Corrigan & Heather Jamison, Kinnect, Cleveland, OH

F14 – Informed Consent in Child Welfare

Biological parents or legal guardians are frequently pressured to sign consents forms that do not contain sufficient information about benefits, risks, or alternatives to allow them to make a true informed decision about the psychiatric care of their children. To address these issues, the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) has developed time limited standardized informed consent forms specific for use in child welfare. This presentation will explore the issues surrounding consent in the child welfare system, the use of informed consent as a policy tool, and the criteria used to evaluate whether a parent’s objection is reasonable. The medication specific informed consent forms developed by ACS will be shared.

Presenter: Martin Irwin, NYU Grossman School on Medicine, NY

Friday, April 28
Workshops G
9:15 am – 10:30 am

G1 – Reimagining the Role of Child Support for Families with Child Welfare Involvement

In 2022, the Administration for Children and Families updated the federal child welfare policy manual to allow states flexibility to more narrowly define under what circumstances they pursue child support collection for child welfare involved families. Join CWLA and the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) to learn more about this important opportunity for child support engagement services and child welfare agencies to collaboratively create a system that better serves whole families and promotes family well-being and stability.

Presenters: Meg Dygert, APHSA, Washington, DC; Kati Mapa, CWLA, Washington, DC

G2 – School-Based Mental Health: The Why, The How, and The Best Practices

This presentation will present data surrounding the importance of making school-based mental health services more readily available to academic communities. We will explore how organizations can secure funding from a variety of entities, create a diversified partnership landscape, utilize best practices for service delivery, and implement trauma-informed training into the school-based mental health model. We will seek to gain a deeper understanding of what school-based mental health can and should look like, specifically addressing post-pandemic effects on children. Attendees can expect to learn about best practices around service delivery in non-traditional settings as well as how implementing training and support opportunities for school staff can help create more trauma-informed school environments.

Presenter: Brittney Walters, CHRIS 180, Atlanta, GA

G3 – Whatever It Takes: Prevention Power  

Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice systems across our nation are being challenged to alter how families are responded to, both before they are referred as a result of suspected abuse or neglect, and throughout their experience with the system. The earlier that innovative interventions and services can be offered to families, the more capacity they will have to respond in ways that are conducive to healing and growth. In this workshop, we will examine: how poverty impacts the basic needs of those served and how addressing this in a meaningful and sustainable way alters futures; the opportunities afforded by Family First to impact prevention, early intervention, and sustainability; and perspectives gained from unlikely partnerships and flexible/creative models of systems of care.

Presenter: Angela Lytle, JusticeWorks Colorado, Denver, CO

G4 – SOUL Family: A Youth-Led Proposal to Expand Permanency Options for Teens in Foster Care

The proposed SOUL Family permanency option would create a circle of adults who provide support, opportunity, unity, and legal relationships for youth aged 16 and older as they move from foster care to adulthood. These youth need the anchor of nurturing, lifelong relationships. The co-presenters are young advocates with foster care experience, who helped develop the proposal with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The SOUL Family proposal offers a flexible alternative that expands pathways to legal permanency on the same continuum as adoption, guardianship, and reunification with families of birth.

Presenters: Patricia Chin, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD; Sonia Emerson, Child Focus, Putnam, CT 

G5 – Best Practices in Engaging Fathers Involved in Child Welfare

This interactive workshop will highlight new resources and best practices for successfully engaging, recruiting, and serving fathers. We believe that intentionally supporting fathers to address their personal and family needs in a holistic and nurturing format enables fathers to succeed as parents. These new practices and strategies come from the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, which is a federally funded resource under the US Department of Health & Human Services that focuses on serving fathers, families, and practitioners. Participants attending this session will develop a greater understanding of how to effectively engage fathers in their work, why fatherhood/male involvement is so important to children, and how the National Responsible Clearinghouse can help with local/regional fatherhood programs.

Presenters: James Worthy & Eugene Schneeberg , National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, Reston, VA

G6 – Rewiring for Collaboration: Leveraging Neuroscience and Change Management to Build Trust, Teams, and Better Partnerships

The demand for collaboration forces us to simultaneously shift the way we think and work internally, while aligning across partner organizations to ensure that we define and meet our common goals. The bad news: our brains are hardwired to avoid change and the vulnerability that comes with building trust. The good news: by understanding how our brains work in the context of change, we can start deliberately and consistently creating new pathways to move us in the right direction. After this workshop, attendees will be able to: explain the six brains and how they impede change; discuss six steps to rewiring change into our organizations; understand the art of strategic communication to accelerate acceptance; and apply a change management toolkit in their organizations to ensure a solid foundation and continuous alignment.

Presenter: Stephanie Savely, LYFT Learning/Life Skills Reimagined, Sparta, TN 

G7 – The Link Between Cultural Resilience and the Prevention of Child Maltreatment in Tribal Communities

In an effort to demonstrate the connection between cultural resilience and the prevention of child maltreatment in tribal communities, the Center for Native Child and Family Resilience will present information on the collaborative efforts of five community projects focused on the prevention and intervention of child maltreatment. This workshop will emphasize the connection between cultural resilience factors and cultural strengths over an array of community-based strategies. Participants will learn how the Center accessed the time and expertise of cultural experts to guide program development, refinement, and evaluation using Indigenous Ways of Knowing as the framework for collaboration and relationship building.

Presenters: Joseph Walker & Sonja Ulrich, Center for Native Child and Family Resilience, Olympia, WA                       

G8 – Innovative Ways to Restructure the Child Welfare System

The Texas Permanency Outcomes Project (TXPOP) develops sustainable best practices for child welfare agencies across Texas to keep children connected to their families of birth, regardless of their permanency outcome. TXPOP refocuses practice, strengthens the workforce, and transforms how systems treat families within foster care. Helping families build support networks is essential to creating stability and safety for families. To achieve this, caregivers (foster and kinship) must become a part of that support network for the family. Children thrive when surrounded by a community of caring people who work together to always place them at the center. TXPOP has a variety of tools and strategies to help with the collaboration between caregivers and families. Services alone do not equal safety for families. Instead, that safety happens through building support networks around families and focusing plans around behavioral changes instead of service completion.

Presenters: Brenda Keller, Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services, Austin, TX; Samantha Zuniga Thompson, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

G9 – Children Uniting Communities: Using Technology to Protect Our Most Vulnerable

In this session you will learn how you can use the CarePortal platform to meet the real-time needs of children and families in distress in your community. Presenters will show you how CarePortal works as we input a need for a family in distress. As a group, we will peruse needs from CPS, schools, police departments, and non-profit orgs that are currently in the system. Together, we will determine which need to meet, we will meet the need, and then watch the funds be transferred directly to a local church leader near the need.

Presenters: Rebekah Weigle & Ember Ngur & Joe Knittig, CarePortal, Kansas City, MO 

G10 – Understanding the Hurdles in Implementing the Family First Prevention Services Act: A Case Study

This workshop will present a comparative case study of how evidence-based practice requirements have affected the Family First Prevention Services Act implementation in Nebraska and Colorado. This qualitative research centered around the experiences of state and private agency leaders as they planned and began the implementation of the new law. Utilizing the Exploration, Preparation, Implementation, and Sustainment (E.P.I.S.) Framework, this session will provide context and key takeaways to assist leaders in their FFPSA planning process.

Presenter: Charity Carmody, Northeastern University, Anchorage, AK

G11 – Creating Systems that Empower Women and Families

This presentation will detail the effective collaboration between Connecticut’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Department of Children and Families, and private non-profits in creating a continuum of care to support women who are pregnant or parenting and struggling with substance use disorders. Movements through the continuum include residential substance abuse treatment (with children residing at program), step down residential programs, and community-based scatter-sited housing services. This presentation will focus on how these collaborative services can reduce child removal and increase parent/child bonding, all while mothers receive the treatment they need to parent safely.

Presenters: Kathleen Savino & Alison Friar, The Connection, Middletown, CT; Rebecca Peterson, Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Middletown, CT

G12 – Attuned to the Rhythm! The Roots of Rhythm, Regulation, and Connection

We are all connected, and rhythm is a thread that holds us and the world together. This workshop will explore the power of rhythm as a tool for healing and regulation, especially regarding the trauma response. Rhythm is deep within our human capacity and is an incredible biological gift. We can tap into that gift, first by being reminded that it is there – everywhere – and then by engaging in simple activities that are rhythmic and patterned as a form of regulation and connection. This workshop will offer simple and easily accessible activities that not only help ourselves and those we serve get regulated or “back in balance”, but also help facilitate healing and connection.

Presenter: Donna Marie Lucero, All Faiths Children’s Advocacy Center, Albuquerque, NM

G13 – Kinnections Project: on the Road to Becoming an Evidence-Based Practice

Kinship care can provide a safe, stable, and loving alternative for children who are unable to remain safely at home. Wayfinder Family Services, in partnership with Child Trends, will present on the evaluation of the Wayfinder Kinnections Kinship Navigation Program (funded by the Administration for Children and Families) with the goal of attaining a rating as a promising practice by the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse. During the presentation, attendees will learn about the Kinnections Program’s goals and practice model, the evaluation design, research questions, and challenges facilitators encountered in implementation and evaluation thus far.

Presenters: Jasmine Nutt, Wayfinder Family Services, Sacramento, CA; Berenice Rushovich, Child Trends, Bethesda, MD

G14 – Child and Family Well-Being System Development: The Centrality of Community Leadership

This session will highlight a system, community, and family partnership effort to transform the primary prevention system in Northern Kentucky into a comprehensive child and family well-being system. Participants will learn how the project is being co-designed with parents and systems representatives in partnership with Brighton Center, the Family Nurturing Center, the Kentucky Department of Community-Based Services, and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. The project aims to co-create a robust primary prevention system focused on child and family well-being in partnership with families, communities, and system representatives. Participants will learn about the strategies and frameworks being used in this partnership.

Presenters: Janese Evans, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Melissa Sommer & Angela Anderson, Brighton Center, Newport, KY

Friday, April 28
Workshops H
10:50 am – 12:05 pm  

H1 – Learning to Thrive Together: Tools for Co-Learning and Co-Assessing Life Skills with Youth

This presentation will focus on providing a landscape analysis of all Independent Life Skill assessments that are currently being used nationally. We will provide insights on how these assessments are incorporating a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens and centering youth. We will then provide an in-depth explanation of the new Casey Life Skills assessment and how it was developed in partnership with youth and other stakeholders in the child welfare system. Examples will be shared of how this assessment can be implemented using a co-design framework to ensure that youth are fully engaged in the process. Lastly, we will provide strategies on youth participation and other 21st century learning strategies.

Presenters: Aakanksha Sinha, Casey Family Programs, Seattle, WA; Connie Chung, Foster America, Los Angeles, CA; Teresa Vollert, Edgewood Center for Children and Families, Millbrae, CA

H2 – How to Build Effective Partnerships for Advancing Systems Change Agendas

In Washington State, the child welfare system, the education system, and community-based organizations are at the table together in a shared effort to advance educational parity for children and youth experiencing foster care and/or homelessness. Together, we are partnering to align policy, improve practice, and secure needed funding to achieve our shared goals. In this workshop, attendees will learn how to build trust, leverage the strengths of each sector, and partner to maximize progress on a shared systems change agenda.

Presenters: Dawn Rains, Treehouse, Seattle, WA; Ross Hunter, Washington State Department of Children, Youth, & Families, Olympia, WA 

H3 – Building the Table Together: Engaging Parents as Collaborative Partners

This presentation will focus on parent leadership as a strength-based approach grounded in the belief that parents are the most knowledgeable about their families and communities. The parent/practitioner co-facilitators will discuss the vital role of parents as partners and provide practical guidance and resources on assessing program readiness to engage in parent/practitioner collaboration while also exploring the roles and benefits of parent leaders in programs and community activities. Participants will be introduced to information, strategies, and tools important to developing successful models of parent leadership and parent/practitioner collaboration at state, local, and program levels.

Presenters: Carolyn Abdullah & MaryJo Alimena Caruso & Elizabeth Reddick, FRIENDS National Center for CBCAP, Washington, DC 

H4 – The Necessity of Collaboration: How Systemic Partnerships Overcome Barriers for FFPSA Service Implementation

The primary focus of Family Centered Treatment (FCT) for over 30 years has been to find simple, practical, and holistic solutions for families faced with disruption due to external and/or internal stressors, circumstances, or forced removal of children from the home due to delinquent behaviors from youth or harmful behaviors from parents. The focus is to either strengthen and preserve children within their home or to bridge through successful reunification back into the home. FFPSA’s initiatives to increase the number of children who can remain safely at home with their families are a perfect synergy with FCT. Presenters will share information about FCT’s expansion across the nation with an increasing focus on reunification and preservation and an additional pilot of FCT-Recovery, which focuses on incorporating substance treatment best practices.

Presenters: Stephanie Glickman & Tim Wood & Lindsey Morgan, Family Centered Treatment Foundation, Charlotte, NC 

H5 – Equitable Solutions to Keep Children Safe in Their Homes and Support Families 

This workshop will share equitable solutions to better support families identified through Child Safety Forward, a four-year, federal demonstration initiative to develop multidisciplinary strategies and responses to address serious or near-death injuries as a result of child abuse or neglect and to reduce the number of child fatalities. The initiative is funded by the Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, and Social Current serves as the national technical assistance provider to sites in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. This public health approach re-balances power, credits multiple types of data, and centers learning. Our objectives in this presentation are to share new approaches to addressing serious injuries and fatalities from maltreatment and to introduce new strategies for reframing childhood adversity as a public, preventable, and solvable issue.

Presenters: Amy Templeman & Romero Davis, Social Current, Washington, DC; Patrick Nickoletti, University of Saint Joseph, Hartford, CT

H6 – Put Me In, Coach! Strengthening the Frontline Through the Caseworker Field Coach Program

This presentation provides information about the field coach program, its inception, and its benefits.  Based on the philosophy that skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable child welfare caseworkers foster an environment that is ripe for retention, the field coach program helps to enrich caseworkers’ critical thinking, reflective practice, and other soft skills via the creation of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound (SMART) goals. This presentation will explore how the field coach program benefits caseworkers individually, and agencies as a whole, via individual sessions in the field with the field coach, self-assessment exercises, coaching questions, group work, and more. Presenters will provide information about solution-focused and reflective practices that are encouraged in the program and how these practices can support caseworkers’ professional development in addition to traditional supervision methods.

Presenters: Amanda Wagner & Sean Lazarus, JusticeWorks YouthCare, Gettysburg, PA

H7 – Centering Social Justice and Equity in Fatherhood Research: Addressing Systems, Context, and Development

Positive father involvement is associated with developmental benefits for children, beginning in the prenatal period and continuing throughout the children’s lives. Nevertheless, the developmental trajectory of fatherhood, transitioning to fatherhood, and the contributions of fathers to child and family outcomes still remain understudied in child development. Moreover, fatherhood research has centered White, married, heterosexual fathers to the detriment of the diversity of fatherhood experiences and the contexts of fathers who are marginalized, their families, and communities. This workshop centers attention on fathers who are too often overlooked in research and stereotyped by child and family professionals – including fathers who are Black, young, don’t reside with the family, have been incarcerated, or have low incomes – and elevates an appreciation of less visible fatherhood roles.

Presenters: Alvin Thomas, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI; Qiana Cryer-Coupet, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA; Justin Harty, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

H8 – North Carolina Family Leadership Model: Building Meaningful, Authentic Collaboration with Families

The North Carolina Division of Social Services (NCDSS) has developed a trauma-informed, innovative approach to engage persons with lived experience in the development, implementation, and evaluation of state child welfare programs, policies, and plans. Based on the principle “nothing about us – without us,” the North Carolina Family Leadership Model is a framework to help organizations improve services and strengthen families. This model involves family and youth partners in service delivery, fosters a safe and supportive learning environment, and holds the state accountable for ongoing, meaningful, and authentic stakeholder engagement. The objectives of the session are to learn how to replicate NC’s Model in one’s own community, increase knowledge of family engagement strategies at the individual, peer, and system levels, and review tools to support implementation.

Presenters: Kathy Stone, NC Division of Social Services, Raleigh, NC; Kelly Kirk, NC Child Welfare Family Advisory Council, Hamlet, NC; Deborah Day, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 

H9 – CRISIS: Connection to Recovery through Intervention, Support, and Initiating Services through 9-1-1

This presentation will discuss partnerships between police departments and community based behavioral health centers to promote safety for individuals in crisis, their families, police officers, and communities as a whole. Presenters will present a cross-system collaboration that attempts to divert individuals from incarceration or ongoing law enforcement involvement through immediate utilization of essential services. Participating Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Officers are certified in specialized first response crisis intervention to increase their knowledge and enhance their communication and de-escalation skills. Licensed qualified clinicians carry out law enforcement and clinical liaison duties while playing an active role in bridging community partnerships. This collaboration allows us to foster effective responses to individuals in crisis while mitigating gaps in equitable service delivery, one 9-1-1 call at a time.

Presenters: Ashley Foster, United Services Inc., Dayville, CT; Jose Diaz, Plainfield Police Department, Plainfield, CT

H10 – Promising Practices to Strengthen Engagement with Youth with Lived Experience

Respecting youth with lived experience and regarding them as experts is a critical step toward improved child and family outcomes. This workshop will present results from a qualitative study in which 18 youth with lived expertise were asked about the best methods for recruiting, engaging, supporting, and retaining youth in child welfare monitoring efforts, such as the Child and Family Services Reviews. Promising practices for engaging youth will be discussed so attendees may apply lessons learned in their own work.

Presenters: Maia Hyary & Susannah Moore & BrookeAnn Maroney & Logan Burge & Katelyn Franke, JBS International, Inc, Westminster, CO; Elliot Hinkle, Unicorn Solutions LLC, Portland, OR

H11 – Skill Building for Professionals Who Work with Children and Families Where Child Sex Abuse is an Issue

 Although child sex abuse does not make up a large percentage of families and children in the child welfare system, the impact of this abuse is pervasive and can last for generations. This session will feature the editors of two new CWLA Books: Child Sexual Abuse Investigations & Assessments and Child Sexual Abuse: Practical Approaches to Prevention and Intervention. The presenters will briefly share the key findings from their books that are relevant to the United States and Canada. Both books are designed to enhance the skill sets of professionals who work with children and their families where child sex abuse is an issue.  Readers will also develop a further understanding of how to maximize the multi-disciplinary partnerships that are attached to these cases. In addition, the session will also feature a discussion of the role of the Children’s Advocacy Center network as a critical partner for the US child welfare system. The session is relevant for CPS and other frontline workers and their supervisors, child advocacy team members, researchers, and others in the US and Canadian systems.

Presenters: Andrew Koster, Former President of Child Welfare League of Canada, Brantford, ON; Gerry Walsh, Child and Family Services of Grand Erie, Brantford, ON; Paul DiLorenzo, CWLA, Bala Cynwyd, PA

H12 – Preventive Legal Advocacy: Family-Focused Advocacy to Reduce Child Welfare Involvement

Preventive Legal Advocacy (PLA) is part of the continuum of high-quality legal advocacy that seeks to strengthen and support family well-being by addressing upstream civil legal issues that often lead to unnecessary child welfare involvement. This workshop will introduce attendees to the principals that drive PLA while exploring positive outcomes associated with existing PLA programs working to address social determinants of health through zealous legal representation. Attendees will be introduced to Standing with Our Neighbors (SWON), an Atlanta school-based preventive legal advocacy program. Presenters will share the SWON model and discuss some of the lessons the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Association has learned in representing families across nine Atlanta schools. Following the presentation, attendees will have an opportunity to work collaboratively to identify opportunities for preventive legal advocacy in their own communities.

Presenters: Emilie Cook, Barton Child Law & Policy Center, Atlanta, GA; Ayanna Jones-Lightsy, Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Association, Atlanta, GA

Training Institute

CWLA’s post-conference Training Institute is a two-day event, designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of workers, supervisors, managers, and directors, leading to a more strengths-based, prevention-focused system of care.

Participants left with a strengthened capacity to:

  • Identify and utilize the strengths of kinship families to provide safety, well-being, and permanency for the children in their care
  • Meaningfully engage with Black fathers
  • Move from DEI discussion to DEI implementation
  • Offer strength-based, solution-focused strategies for families that are co-parenting
  • Support professional engagement, partnership, and team building through supervision techniques
  • Promote diversity, equity, and inclusion through awareness, acknowledgement, action, and accountability

These exclusive training sessions afforded attendees the opportunity to work closely with experts in the field. Trainings were held on Friday, April 28 from 2:30pm – 5:30pm and on Saturday, April 29 from 9:30am – 12:30pm.

Inherent Strengths in Kinship Families: Training for Kinship Caregivers and Professionals

This training will provide an overview of a new video training series. The learning objectives are to: identify the strengths of families involved in kinship care and advantages to children residing in these families, when unable to remain with their families of birth; and describe how caregivers can use these strengths to provide safety, well-being, and permanency for the children in their care. Participants will leave with: the ability to recognize strengths inherent to families involved in kinship care; approaches caregivers can use to utilize their strengths; and strategies and approaches professionals can implement to support caregivers in utilizing their strengths. Participants will view clips of the training modules and engage in interactive activities from the material. The target audience includes trainers, frontline workers, supervisors, managers, and administrators; professionals with all levels of experience are invited to attend.

Facilitator: Dr. Joseph Crumbley, LCSW; Angela Tobin, OTD

Dear Black Male

This training will provide an overview of the history and culture of African Americans with a focus on recognizing cultural mistrust, issues faced, and perceptions of Black males. Through lecture and discussion, participants will identify how efforts to adequately provide for Back males can be linked to the fight for larger social justice goals for themselves and their communities. Participants in this training will: develop an understanding of the importance of the role of the historian in interpreting African American history; expand their knowledge and awareness of the disproportionality of Black males who are institutionalized and the impact it has on communities; learn the most common mistakes professionals make when working with Black males and how to avoid them; and engage in dialogue to identify strengths-based practices and interventions that foster family health and resilience.

Facilitator: Anthony Gay, BA, Welcome to Reality, LLC

From Discussing to Doing

This training is designed for Executive and Mid-Level Management leading Health and Human Service non-profit or government agencies who may be considering launching a Race Equity program within their organizations, or for leaders who are considering re-launching DEI programming which may have stalled. The training will focus on several areas that require leadership consideration pre-implementation of a DEI program such as political climate, data, leadership commitment, and, most importantly, will aid the leader with assessing their personal values and biases which might impact their efforts. The training will also provide participants with tools and resources such as resource libraries, implicit bias tests, and organizational assessments. These tools will assist leaders to host initial conversations internally, as well as with the community and implementation team, and to develop a plan. The overall objective is to provide the support needed to move leaders from discussing to doing.

Facilitator: Gary Taylor, CWLA Senior Fellow

Building Blocks for Effective Co-Parenting

The purpose of this training is to provide an engaging, informative framework that highlights the importance of effective co-parenting. When done properly, effective co-parenting can aid and assist in the overall growth and healthy development of children. We understand that families become separated for a variety of reasons and this training provides an opportunity to: recognize reasons why some relationships end; learn how these actions can impact children’s identity and self-esteem; and offer strength-based, solution-focused, strategies and techniques to create consistency and support for all involved parties. Many of these core principles can be applied to all families—including birth, kin, foster, and adoptive. The purpose is to create a resource that can assist families that are separating, training specialists, community providers, court mediation staff, and others in learning how to work together with the common goal of putting the needs of the children first.

Facilitator: Marcus Stallworth, LMSW, CWLA Director of Training and Implementation

Supervising for Excellence and Success

The quality of supervision is recognized as a significant factor in organizational capacity and ability to provide services that achieve organizational goals and desired outcomes for children, youth, and families, as well as staff retention and professional development. Supervising for Excellence and Success focuses on essential practice elements and functions of supervision. These supervisory functions (Leading, Planning, Organizing, Teaching, Supporting, and Evaluating) will be explored in discussion of literature, use of self-assessment tools, informative handouts, group exercises, and role play based on case and situational examples. Practice elements critical to supporting professional engagement, partnership, and team building in supervision will be highlighted to align with research and best practices. Discussion will include the supporting theoretical concepts related to the supervisory role and related skills and competencies.

Facilitator: Dr. Jorge Velázquez, Wilmington University, Delaware

The 4 A’s Approach to Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion           

In this training session, we will introduce and discuss the 4 A’s Approach to Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This framework will encourage participants to reflect and evaluate how personal biases, societal norms, and agency culture can impact staff morale and the perceptions from children and families served. We will concentrate on the four following areas: Awareness, Acknowledgement, Action, and Accountability. This presentation is designed for peer interaction, shared learning, and strategy development. This session will utilize the core principles of adult learning by incorporating real experiences and scenarios for examination and assessment.

Facilitators: Marcus Stallworth, LMSW, CWLA Director of Training and Implementation; Deborah Wilson Gadsden, LSW, MSW, MHS, Voce

Inherent Strengths in Kinship Families: Training for Kinship Caregivers and Professionals with Dr. Joseph Crumbley & Angela Tobin

Dr. Crumbley has authored two books: Relatives Raising Children: An Overview of Kinship Care, along with co-author Robert Little, and Transracial Adoptions and Foster Care. Both books were published by the Child Welfare League of America. Dr. Crumbley has provided expert testimony on kinship care to the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and the United Nations. Internationally, he has presented at the Renmin (the People’s) University of China in Beijing, the New Zealand Ministry of Children and Family Services and the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect in Durban, South Africa. He has also produced a series of training tapes for parents and professionals on transracial adoptions and kinship care. Dr. Crumbley has online kinship care training courses produced by Northwest Media Inc., the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice.

Angela Tobin is the founder and leader of Kinship Caregivers Connect, an online statewide support group and network in Ohio funded by OhioKAN (Ohio Kinship and Adoption Navigator’s program). Angela also works as a Research Associate at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill exploring various topics related to kinship family wellbeing. She has experience in programming and has developed and facilitated training for school professionals related to understanding kinship families and strategies for support in the school system. She takes an interdisciplinary and holistic health approach in supporting kinship families. Angela’s interest in kinship family engagement and support sparked from personal experience, as she witnessed both her grandparents and parents raise her cousin (their grandson/nephew). Angela holds a Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree from Ohio State University.

Dear Black Male with Anthony Gay, BA 

Anthony Gay is the Director of Curricula Development at Welcome2Reality, LLC. Anthony is passionate about teaching and conducts research, develops training modules /curricula, and facilitates training. Anthony spent several years as a full-time trainer, developing or co-authoring training modules on fatherhood, professionalism, cultural competency, trauma, working with adolescents, family-centered assessment, and human trafficking. For over ten years, Anthony has been focused on improving communities by advocating for equality for fathers. Anthony is a member of a national fatherhood network that shares resources and ideas to improve fathers’ and families’ outcomes. Anthony is a leader in the realm of fatherhood in Connecticut and hosts numerous fatherhood themed events throughout the year, promoting positive fatherhood. As a result of his dedication, Anthony has received numerous awards recognizing his work with fathers and families.

From Discussing to Doing with Gary Taylor

Gary Taylor is a retired child welfare director from Orange County, CA, where he installed and successfully oversaw the Racial Disparity and Disproportionality project which began within the Social Services Agency and spread to multiple county agencies.  The Orange County Social Services Agency observed improved outcomes and more equitable services for children in care, such as a reduced number of children entering care, improved time to reunification, less residential placements, and more children placed in long term relative care. Gary is currently serving as a Senior Fellow with CWLA and independent consultant providing training and executive coaching throughout the U.S. Gary’s Coaching to Child Welfare Leaders and their organizations is offered through a lens of race, equity, and justice. Gary is also involved with a team of participants updating the California Child Welfare Core Practice Model to ensure that the literature, resources, and tools reflect Race, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion more specifically.

Supervising for Excellence and Success with Dr. Jorge Velázquez

Dr. Jorge Velázquez has more than 22 years of experience working in child welfare and human services management with federal, state, and non-profit agencies. His specific professional experiences include the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, the Child Welfare League of America, as well as child welfare agencies of Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. In recent years, he has been providing consultation services on a variety of issues such as supportive supervision, staff development, racial equity, and cultural humility. Dr. Velázquez is co-author of CWLA’s supervision curriculum, Supervision to Advance Success and Excellence. In addition, he has been teaching business management courses as an adjunct professor for Wilmington University, Delaware for more than 17 years. He holds a Bachelor’s in criminal justice, a Master of Public Administration, and a Doctor of Business Administration. Dr. Velázquez retired from the United States Air Force after 21 years of honorable service in July 2022.         

Building Blocks for Effective Co-Parenting with Marcus Stallworth, LMSW

Marcus Stallworth serves as CWLA’s Director of Training and Implementation, which has provided him the opportunity to assist child welfare agencies across the US and internationally with implementation strategies to achieve positive outcomes for children and families. Having spent close to 20 years providing Child Protective Services, he is recognized by the State of Connecticut as an expert witness for Superior Court for Juvenile Matters. He has spearheaded several initiatives to promote the engagement of Fathers, identify the dangers of social media, and raise the awareness for equity and inclusion. Marcus is Vice President of the Board of Directors for CT’s Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). He is a member of Media Literacy Now’s national advisory council, which provides advocacy and resources for educators, students, and parents. He is also a proud father of two, and recipient of the 100 Men of Color award in 2017.

The 4 A’s Approach to Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with Marcus Stallworth, LMSW & Deborah Wilson Gadsden, LSW, MSW, MHS

Deborah Wilson Gadsden is a licensed social worker in Pennsylvania, employed by Voce as a training specialist. As a 50-year veteran in the field of child welfare, she holds an M.A. in Human Services from Lincoln University and Masters of Social Work from Temple University. She is a certified trainer for the PA Child Welfare Resource Center, the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, and the Workplace Bullying Institute.

Hotel & Travel

Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001

Hotel Reservations

Room reservations must be made directly with the hotel. You can reserve by phone at 1-800-233-1234 (reference group code: G-CWL3) or online at Hyatt Reservations. Room availability and special rates are guaranteed only until April 3, 2023, or until the space is filled. Please be sure to make your reservation under our conference group block to ensure waiver of the destination fee charged at this hotel.


The closest airport to the conference is Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). A map of the area, driving directions, and ground transportation options are available at Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill.


Sponsorships are essential to our ability to offer this vital conference.

As always, it’s important to us that we build a sponsorship package that suits the unique goals of our sponsors. Feel free to browse our Sponsor Deck or reach out to with your own suggestions.

Exhibiting & Advertising


CWLA’s Conference is a valuable opportunity to strengthen your brand awareness while connecting with leaders in the child- and family-serving sector. Our exhibit hall, and the events held there, offer you the chance to share your organization’s unique value proposition with hundreds of CEOs, administrators, workers, researchers, advocates, and caregivers.

Exhibited with CWLA before? Our annual conference allows you to deepen relationships with existing clients, and feature products and services they may not have realized you offer. Exhibiting affords you the chance to gain crucial insights into the needs of the population you serve, by connecting directly with current and potential clients, or popping into the occasional conference workshop to hear about the hot topics affecting the field.

Past exhibitors who have experienced success at our conference include software companies, publishers, insurance brokers, banks, trainers, accreditors, member and non-member agencies, and other organizations with a message for child- and family-serving professionals.

Interested in sponsoring the overall conference? Check out our Sponsor Deck.

Premium Exhibit Fees (high-traffic space)

  • $1,650 for Non-Member organizations
  • $1,525 for Member organizations

General Exhibit Fees

  • $1,395 for Non-Member organizations
  • $1,195 for Member organizations

Exhibit booths include:

    • 8′ x 10′ space with standard booth drapery
    • 6′ x 2′ draped table
    • 2 side chairs
    • A complimentary registration for one exhibit staffer with access to all conference sessions, workshops, and meals
      One additional exhibit staffer can be registered at a special rate of $450
    • A 7″ x 44″ booth identification sign
    • Registrant mailing list for pre-conference marketing (one-time use)
    • Post-conference attendee list for follow-up outreach (one-time use)
    • Dedicated exhibit hall times and functions
    • A 30% discount on conference program advertising
    • Optional add-ons: tote bag inserts and program ads

Exhibit Hall Raffle

The last event held in the exhibit hall will include a raffle of prizes, given away at each exhibitor’s booth. The raffle increases attendee engagement by encouraging conference goers to visit each and every exhibit booth. By registering as an exhibitor, you are committing to bringing a prize for the raffle. Prizes can be branded swag, gift cards, small electronics, gift baskets – or anything else you think will drive excitement to your exhibit booth!

Tote Bag Inserts

Interested in promoting your products and services in the conference program? Explore our Advertising Opportunities (on 2nd tab of this section) to maximize your brand exposure!

Exhibit Hall Dates & Times (subject to change without notice)

  • Set up: Choice of Wednesday, April 26, 2023, after 5:00pm or Thursday, April 27, 2023, at 7:00am
  • Dismantle: Friday, April 28, 2023, 2:00pm
  • Exhibiting Dates & Times: Thursday, April 27, 2023, 8:00am – Friday, April 28, 2023, 2:00pm

Registration and Payment:

  • To exhibit, register online. Registering means you agree with the Terms and Conditions
  • Payment in full is due with registration. Pay by credit card or select “Bill Me” to receive an invoice.

Questions? Get in touch with us at

Can’t be with us in person? Check out our Take-One Exhibiting (on 3rd tab of this section) to share your message with conference attendees.


Maximize your exposure! Advertise in the printed Conference Program to ensure increased visibility, brand awareness, and engagement with our attendees.


  • Full-color advertising!
  • Exhibitors receive an over 30% discount on conference program advertising (as detailed below)


  • Reserve program ad space by March 10, 2023
  • Submit art to by March 17, 2023

Printed Ad Rates and Options:

Ad Type Size (Inches) Exhibitor Cost Non-Exhibitor Cost
Sixth Page 2.5 x 4.75 $231 $385
Quarter-Page Vertical 3.37 x 4.75 $462 $742
Half-Page Vertical 3.75 x 9.25 $924 $1,430
Half-Page Horizontal 7.50 x 4.75 $924 $1,430
Full Page (no bleed) 7.50 x 10.00 $1,848 $2,750
Full Page (bleed) 8.75 x 11.25 $1,848 $2,750
Back Cover (no bleed) 7.50 x 7.00 to 8.00 $2,310 $3,795
Back Cover (bleed) 8.75 x 7.25 to 8.25 $2,310 $3,795

Registration and Payment:

  • To advertise, register online. Registering means you agree with the Terms and Conditions.
  • Payment in full is due with registration. Pay by credit card or select “Bill Me” to receive an invoice.

Questions? Get in touch with us at

Take-One Exhibiting

Can’t be with us in person, but have a message for conference attendees? Send fliers, brochures, and other material for our Take-One tables in or near the Exhibit Hall and Conference Registration areas.

Cost: $300 per item

General Shipping Instructions:

  • Clearly label all boxes.
  • Ship by traceable means.
  • Leftover items will not be returned.
  • Materials should not arrive earlier than Monday, April 24, 2023

Registration and Payment:

  • For Take-One Exhibiting, register online. Registering means you agree to the Terms and Conditions.
  • Payment in full is due with registration. Pay by credit card or select “Bill Me” to receive an invoice.

Questions? Get in touch with us at