Please note that the information below is for the 2019 NACAC conference, which was held in July. If will give you a sense of the type of sessions we will offer at the 2020 conference in Toronto, Ontario.

General Sessions

July 18, 2019 — Allison Maxon, LMFT, and Sharon Kaplan Roszia, MS, “The Seven Core Issues in Adoption and Permanency”

1.5 CE hours

In Thursday’s general session on July 18, two nationally recognized experts in child welfare will talk about the seven core issues in adoption—loss, rejection, shame & guilt, grief, identity, intimacy, and mastery & control—and how much has changed in the last 20 years. More adoptions are from foster care and we have a better understanding of the impact of trauma and the importance of attachment. This keynote will update the conversation about the seven core issues; highlight their impact on the lives of children, parents, and families; and offer practical tools for addressing these lifelong issues.

July 19, 2019 — Young Adult Panel moderated by Michael Sanders, MSW, LISW, Making Placements Successful: Learning from Youth Who Lived It”

1.5 CE hours

During Friday’s keynote panel presentation, the audience will learn directly from young people who have experienced foster care and adoption about how child welfare professionals and foster and adoptive parents can make their transition to a new placement more successful. Moderator Michael Sanders will explore with the panel best practices for welcoming a child or teen into a family and what steps professionals and parents took—or could have taken—to make foster care and adoption less difficult. Participants will learn new ways to think about how the actions they take affect young people in foster and adoptive placements.

July 20, 2019 — Punam Mathur, Power of Perspective. Power of You.”

In these times of rapid change and kerfuffle, join our closing session on Saturday to receive a quick reminder of your own super powers and where to reclaim them. (And, have some fun.) This presentation will leave you inspired and encouraged to go back and do your best—for your children, your families, and yourself!


Pre-Conference Session

July 17, 2019 — Daren Jones, LMSW and Jill Crewes, MSW, will present “Empower, Connect, Correct: Principles and Tools of Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®)”

6 CE hours

Designed to address physical and attachment needs and dispel difficult, fear-based behaviors, TBRI® is a powerful therapeutic tool for working with and raising children who have experienced trauma. In this day-long, intensive workshop for parents and professionals, two experienced trainers from the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development will teach about the TBRI® method that has brought hope and healing to many children and their families.

Participants will learn about the effects of complex developmental trauma and how the foundational principles of TBRI®—empowering, connecting, and correcting—are used to engage and empower children to change behaviors. The session will also cover how to recognize the effects of sensory processing on behaviors, tools for interpreting and regulating behaviors, and proactive and responsive strategies to deal with challenging behaviors while creating an environment of connection and safety. Participants will leave with the tools they need to start building calmer, trust-based relationships with children whose trust has been damaged.

  • Date: July 17, 2019
    Time: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
    Audience: Parents and Professionals
    Registration fee: $125 US
    Lunch: On Your Own

Pre-conference registration fees are separate from regular conference fees. You can register for the pre-conference session even if you do not attend the rest of the conference.

Check-in starts at 7:45 am CEUs (6 contact hours/0.6 CEUs) can be purchased at the end of the session.


2019 Workshops


Workshop Period 1

Thursday, July 18, 2019
10:30 am – 12:00 pm

 1A —Treatment Strategies for Children Who Are Highly Reactive

1.5 CE hours

In this practical workshop for caseworkers and parents, we will explore an assortment of straightforward and relatively inexpensive ways to help reduce anxiety and anger that can overtake children who have experienced early life trauma, foster care, and adoption. The brain-based techniques we discuss will range from using off-the-shelf technology to dietary and nutritional strategies that can make a meaningful difference.

Lisa Merrifield, PhD, Psychologics, PC, Nebraska • David Rehovsky, LIMHP & Linda Rehovsky, Old Mill Counseling, Nebraska

1B — Parenting from the Trenches

1.5 CE hours

See your kids in a whole new light! This workshop offers a toolbox of strategies for parenting children and teens. Topics include developing trust and attachment while helping children learn to manage their own behaviors, build self-esteem, and maintain sanity. The presenter will give special attention to the unique world of teens.

Denise Goodman, PhD, trainer/consultant, Ohio

1C — The Emotional and Developmental Impact of Adoption

1.5 CE hours

This powerful, informative workshop will provide attendees a deeper understanding of how loss and separation affects the growth and development of all adoptees. The workshop will highlight normal developmental stages that adoptees experience from birth through adulthood. Be prepared to laugh, cry, and be moved.

Jeffrey LaCure, PsyD, The New England Center for Adoption Support & Education, Massachusetts

1E — Making the Most of Your Recruitment Efforts: Effective Response System Strategies

1.5 CE hours

This workshop will highlight the value of a response system and how it is crucial for effective recruitment. Presenters will cover the importance of supporting families from your initial response, strategies for beginning that support, highlight characteristics and structures of effective response systems, share insights from interviews, and facilitate discussion on specific ideas from the field for response systems and how to implement them.

Tracy Serdjenian, LMSW, AdoptUSKids, Colorado • Alicia Groh, MPP, AdoptUSKids, Minnesota

1G — Parent Groups and Other Peer Support: Crucial to Success

Parents and professionals are invited to learn effective ways to provide adoptive, foster, and kinship care families with information and support through support groups, a peer to peer support network, private Facebook group, and other programs.

Barb Clark, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota

1I — Developmental Trauma Action Alliance

Our multi-sector action alliance has been working to raise awareness about developmental trauma and improve support and treatment for children who have experienced it. Come learn about developmental trauma, how we are advocating for using a developmental trauma lens to better understand children and families, and how you can join our efforts to work for a more effective response for children who have been impacted by developmental trauma.

Kathy Soden & Sylvia Gibbons, Adoption Council of Ontario

1J — Tangled: Hair, Race, and Identity

1.5 CE hours

For traumatized children, a sense of normalcy in their new placement can be comforting. One way that caregivers can promote healing and build a strong racial identity is through hair care. Participants will gain confidence in taking care of their child’s hair. A hands-on demonstration will also provide participants a chance to see the importance of appropriate hair care for African American children in care.

Naijean Bernard, PhD,  & Easter Spates, LPC, Envolve Health, Texas

1K — Rethinking Permanence for Older Youth

1.5 CE hours

The Maryland Foster Care Court Improvement Program and Maryland Department of Human Services are re-examining cases of older youth who have a plan of “another planned permanent living arrangement‚” instead of adoption. Too often, the emphasis is stability and preparation for independence, rather than permanence. Attendees will learn how predictive analytics can improve permanency outcomes; ways to engage multidisciplinary teams in permanency planning; and tools for permanency planning and review hearings to reduce the number of children aging out of foster care without permanency.

Brandi Hill, MSW, LCSW, Maryland Judiciary, Administrative Office of the Courts, Department of Juvenile & Family Services • Abigail Hill, Esq., Maryland Judiciary, Administrative Office of the Courts, Department of Juvenile & Family Services

1L — Too Many Losses Too Soon: Loss and Grief in Children Who Are Adopted or in Foster Care

1.5 CE hours

This workshop addresses the unique loss experienced by children in foster care and adoption, and includes factors that influence children’s reaction to loss, the four psychological tasks of grief work, and healing therapies for children and teens. Discussion will include how professionals can assist parents in understanding how their children are experiencing the ambiguities of foster care and adoption, effective interventions for opening communication with children, and strengthening transitions and attachment to new families.

Mari Itzkowitz, LCSW, Center for Adoption Support and Education, Virginia

1M — Helping Adopted Youth Maintain Connections with Birth Family and Communities

1.5 CE hours

Adopted children and youth benefit when they are able to have positive connections with their birth family members and maintain their cultural connections. These relationships can be complex and difficult to navigate for youth and their adoptive and birth families. Building on youth experiences, this session provides strategies to ensure healthy relationships between adopted and birth family.

Pat Convery, RSW, Adoption Council of Ontario


Workshop Period 2
Thursday, July 18, 2019
1:30 – 3:00 pm

2B — On the Same Team: Relationship Resiliency in Difficult Times

Parenting is hard enough on a relationship but maintaining a healthy, thriving partnership while parenting children from difficult places kicks the challenges up a few notches. Many marriages do not survive. Learn what a partnership needs to navigate tough times and to continue to parent and partner as a team.

Lori Ross, FosterAdopt Connect, Missouri • Randy Ross, Missouri

2C — Ethical Issues in Adoption and Permanency

1.5 CE hours

This workshop will look at some of the complex ethical challenges that adoption and permanency professionals need to understand to ensure the rights—and preserve the dignity—of all constellation members throughout the adoption process. Because practices can be based on outdated norms, laws, and regulations, we will discuss what interventions, guidelines, and supports are currently considered best practice for a positive permanence journey.

Allison Maxon, LMFT, National Center on Adoption and Permanency, California • Sharon Kaplan Roszia, MS, private practice, California

2D — Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder from a Trauma Lens

Supporting a child with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) can present many challenges. It is vital that families and the professionals who support them understand the reasons behind the child’s learning and behavior. We will explore risk factors when alcohol is used during pregnancy; describe FASD and its connection to brain impairment and behaviors; explore diagnoses under the FASD umbrella; identify red flags; consider co-morbid conditions, including the impact of trauma; and discuss strategies.

Barb Clark, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota

2E — Recruiting Foster Parents: The FosterMore Model

FosterMore is a successful foster parent recruitment model that combines expert communications and marketing tactics with Hollywood ties to deliver a proven template for foster parent recruitment for communities across the country. In addition to learning how they could invest in the FosterMore campaign for their community, participants will learn key research findings and best practices in foster parent recruitment that can inform their own recruitment efforts.

Mark Daley, Daley Solutions, California

2F —The Simple Truths about Permanency Are Anything but Simple

1.5 CE hours

In this workshop for parents and professionals, the presenter will explore how parents really come to “claim” children as their own—to feel the relationship in their heart not just think it in their brain. The presenter will explore how to help parents truly accept how children’s histories and grief and loss have affected them. Transferring learning from our brains to our heart makes a huge difference in keeping families together and making the permanency journey a bit smoother.

Karen Moore, Open Doors for Lanark Children and Youth, Ontario

2H — Agile Scrum: Improving Systems and Outcomes

1.5 CE hours

The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (MA DCF) is the first agency to apply Agile/Scrum—a project management method that has migrated from the software development field to organizational change management—to child welfare. This workshop will explain Agile/Scrum, recount MA DCF’s learning curve, discuss the benefits and challenges of applying the model to human services, report the significant contributions of Agile/Scrum to changing agency culture, and summarize data that demonstrates this model’s effectiveness for improving systems and outcomes.

Ruben Ferreira, PhD, Massachusetts Department of Children & Families

2I — Promoting Systems Change to Prepare and Support Adoptive and Guardian Families

1.5 CE hours

Interested in changing your system to better support adoptive and guardian families? Come learn about the QIC-AG’s six messages‚ including increasing supports, empowering families to seek support, and connecting families to services. These messages all highlight ways professionals and parents can advocate for system changes to better support current and prospective adoptive and guardian families. All six messages will be brought to life through examples from the field.

Leslie Cohen, Spaulding for Children, Ohio • Christine Feldman, Illinois SIM QIC-AG • Nicole Coning, Harmony Family Center, Tennessee

2J — Unconditional Family for LGBTQ+ Youth in Foster Care

1.5 CE hours

UpFront, a program of Fostering Change for Children, focuses on the safety, permanency, and well-being of LGBTQ+ young people who experience foster care and/or are disconnected from family. This session will explore some of the challenges that LGBTQ+ youth in care face in achieving positive permanency. Come learn how we engage and work with LGBTQ+ young people as they navigate adulthood and independence.

Bryan Hill, LMSW, Fostering Change for Children, New York

2L — Sensory Processing: Living Life Through a Different Filter

This interactive session will provide a better understanding of sensory processing skills and discuss how to recognize and treat sensory processing issues in children and adolescents. Participants will experience firsthand what everyday life with sensory processing differences feels like, and learn strategies to help children improve self-regulation, and understand when to seek which professional services.

Heather Saak, FosterAdopt Connect, Missouri

2M — The Inclusive-Family Support Model: Facilitating Openness for All Post-Adoptive Families

1.5 CE hours

Adoption agencies often provide pre-adoption advice and encourage families to agree to openness, but then leave adoptive parents to navigate this potentially challenging journey alone. The Inclusive Family Support Model is a six-phase practice model focused on facilitating openness between adoptive families and first/birth families. The presenter will share the theories that guide the model; the model’s implications for shifting the discussions around power, privilege, and social justice; how agencies can implement the model; and potential research opportunities.

Angela Tucker, Amara/founder of The Adopted Life, Washington


Workshop Period 3
Thursday, July 18, 2019
3:30 – 5:00 pm

3A — Making the Pain Go Away: Trauma and Teen Substance Abuse

1.5 CE hours

This presentation will briefly look at complex developmental trauma in teens and how it can lay the foundation for substance abuse, explore therapies and interventions that heal trauma, and learn how teens can obtain lasting sobriety. Changing the addicted brain makes long lasting sobriety possible: healing youth’s trauma is the necessary first step.

Ken Huey, PhD, Kokua Recovery, Colorado

3B — Dads Talk Adoption

During this forum for dads on the joys and challenges of parenting, two experienced adoptive fathers will facilitate a discussion from a man’s point of view about adoption, foster care, and parenting. With more than 50 years and many children between them, these dads have learned not to take things too seriously—at least not all the time! Bring your questions, stories, and best strategies to share. We’ll share successes, challenges, laugh, and more. (Men only.)

Buddy Stevens, Vermont • Randy Ross, Missouri

3C — Discovering Calm in the Midst of Chaos

1.5 CE hours


Since adoptive parents and child welfare professionals often cannot remove themselves from stressful situations, they benefit from learning how to shift their nervous system into a state of regulation even in the midst of chaos. By leaning into the latest brain science on regulation and self-compassion, this experiential workshop will help you identify and harness already existing opportunities to practice moments of rest and regulation in order to strengthen resilience and decrease burnout.

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, RPT-S, private practice, Michigan

3D — Is It Just ADHD?

1.5 CE hours

Children who are adopted are at increased risk of attention challenges. During this case-based, interactive workshop, we will review the diagnosis and management of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and discuss coexisting conditions such as anxiety, depression, and learning disorders. We will also review other diagnoses—such as post-traumatic stress disorder, reactive attachment disorder, and conduct disorders—that can mimic attention challenges.

Elaine Schulte, MD, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, New York

3E — The Biggest Challenges in Recruitment and Retention of Foster and Adoptive Families

The Family First Prevention Services Act will put pressure on public and private agencies to find more foster and adoptive families. Based on our work with public and private agencies on recruitment and retention, review of the research, and surveys of our extensive community of adoptive and foster families, we will explore the trends, challenges, and—most importantly—what works.

Carolyn Ashworth, MBA, Creating a Family, North Carolina

3F — Collaborating with Kinship Caregivers as a Permanency Option

1.5 CE hours

The presenters, who have personal and professional experience in kinship care and kinship adoption, will present the CWLA kinship model of practice. The model highlights the need to collaborate with kinship caregivers and address issues and challenges faced by kinship caregivers. Participants will learn specific ways they can support kinship caregivers as a permanency option for children in care.

Jeanette Willis, Sheri Abbey, MSW, & Lois Miller, Advantage Adoptions – OCOC, Texas

3G — Adoption Readiness Practice

Come learn successful techniques for moving older children into adoptive families. Before anyone meets, children and teens must be ready to live with a family and families must be prepared to adopt an older child. At Family Focus, the child and prospective family each have their own advocates before and after adoption. Families and children come together with many supports, and disruptions are rare. This workshop offers both practical advice and emphasizes the belief system that feeds the techniques.

Jack Brennan & Joanne Ferrante, Family Focus Adoption Services, New York

3J — Reclaiming Indigenous Culture for Children

1.5 CE hours

This interactive workshop will discuss the importance of indigenous culture for children in care in the US and Canada. We will explore the various facets of what culture is, why it is important for children who are being adopted, and how adoptive families and  workers can team up to support the child or youth in developing and maintaining a positive racial identity.

Kim Grzybowski, British Columbia

3K — Beneath the Mask: Adoption Through the Eyes of Adolescents

1.5 CE hours

Participants will explore how the typical adolescent developmental tasks including separation from parents, identity formation, and sexuality are intensified by adoption, particularly in transracial adoption. The presentation will highlight six areas where teens get stuck as key vulnerabilities around the adoption experience and will include video of teens and young adults sharing their stories.

Debbie Riley, LCMFT, Center for Adoption Support and Education, Maryland

Session Canceled 3L — Delivering Mental Health Services to a Rural Community

The Chatham County Department of Social Services (DSS) Clinical Program provides evidence-based mental health treatment to children and families in a rural community who are involved in child protection. Services for children and their birth and foster families include individual therapy, community-based groups, Trauma Informed Comprehensive Clinical Assessments, and county-wide education outreach efforts. The flexibility of this program has allowed many children to receive the therapeutic supports they need without delay or restrictions.

Jessica Hubbard, LCSW, MSW & Meagan Albert, LCSWA, Chatham County Department of Social Services, North Carolina


Workshop Period 4
Friday, July 19, 2019
10:30 am – 12:00 pm

4A — Neurofeedback: Healing Traumatized Children

1.5 CE hours

Neurofeedback helps youngsters, tweens, and teens learn to improve their brain function related to impulsivity, focus, mood, memory, and attachment. This workshop demonstrates why neurofeedback is a valuable intervention for healing kids exposed to early trauma. We’ll learn how neurofeedback is conducted, and we’ll see some pre- and post-case examples.

Arleta James, LPCC, Adoption and Attachment Therapy Partners, Ohio

4B — Quit Taking it Personal (QTIP)

Triggers are real and emotions can overpower. This training, presented by foster care alumni, will give workers and parents skills and tools to help identify their own triggers and manage their emotions. Additionally, they will better understand their youth’s behaviors, be able to support their child, and learn to not take these behaviors personally.

Nyamekye Reynolds & Brezan Gowie, You Gotta Believe, New York

4C — Building Attachment-Focused Communities

1.5 CE hours

Join us to learn about a practical and sustainable approach to healing developmental trauma and attachment repair. Children who have experienced early childhood trauma are a part of a larger community of teachers, social workers, therapists, and others. As a result, training and support services need to reflect a community-based approach for consistent support and healing. We’ll explore developmental trauma, therapeutic techniques, and ways to change your community to help children.

Mary M. McGowan, ATTACh, Minnesota

4D — From Adoption to Residential Treatment: Adoptive Families’ Experiences in the U.S. and Canada

1.5 CE hours

This interactive workshop will examine the findings of the presenters’ and NACAC’s national survey of adoptive families with children who have been placed in residential treatment centers (RTCs). The focus will be on the families’ experience including what resources were used prior to RTC placement, their thoughts on which resources benefited their child, and what resources and education they believe could have assisted them.

Kim Brown, MA, Capital Adoptive Families Alliance, California • Rowena Fong, PhD & Catherine LaBrenz, University of Texas at Austin

4G — Meeting Families’ Needs: Assessing Family Support Services

1.5 CE hours

Support services for foster, adoptive, and kinship families are crucial for promoting and sustaining child and family well-being, but for these services to be helpful they need to be both relevant and accessible. This workshop will present approaches and a tool for assessing and mapping your system’s range of support services, including tips for engaging families and other key stakeholders in assessing the availability, scope, cultural competence, and geographic areas of services for families.

Britt Cloudsdale, MSW, AdoptUSKids, North Carolina • Alicia Groh, MPP, AdoptUSKids, Minnesota

4H — What Foster and Adoptive Parents Want Their Agency to Know (But Seldom Tell Them)

1.5 CE hours

What do foster and adoptive parents really want to tell their agency, but don’t? Based on surveys, social listening, polls of the extensive Creating a Family online community (31,500+), and audience feedback from national presentations, we share what foster and adoptive parents really want their agency to know: the good and the not so good. Plus, quick and “easy” changes that can make a big difference in their perception and experience.

Dawn Davenport, Creating a Family, North Carolina

4I — Speak Up and Be Heard! Legislative Advocacy for Children, Youth, and Families

More and more successful advocacy is based on hearing from the collective voices of youth, parents, and professionals in the field of child welfare. Join this interactive, hands-on session to learn effective strategies and tips for successful advocacy‚ both in your community and at the federal and state levels. The presenters will also share the latest federal policy updates and advocacy messages being discussed at the national level.

Joe Kroll, Voice for Adoption, Minnesota

4J — The Multicultural Family Grows Up in the New America

1.5 CE hours

When white parents choose to become a family through transracial adoption, they usually do their best to understand the basic concepts of racism, discrimination, and prejudice, and strive to instill a healthy sense of cultural and racial identity and self-esteem in their child. This adds another dimension to their pre-adoption preparation and to adoptive parenting itself. In the current social and political climate of the US, multiracial adoptive families face new challenges. This workshop will explore that impact and discuss coping skills and support mechanisms for families.

Lynn Gabbard, National Center on Adoption and Permanency, Connecticut • Susan Myers, Connecticut Council on Adoption, Connecticut • Jesse Gabbard, adopted person, California

4K — Factors That Help Youth Thrive

1.5 CE hours

This workshop reviews lessons learned from the five-year, national Youth Thrive initiative facilitated by the Center for the Study of Social Policy. Come learn how the program integrates knowledge of adolescent brain development and an understanding of the impact of trauma on adolescent development and what factors help adolescents with foster care and adoption experience heal.

Sarah B Greenblatt, LMSW, SBGreeenblatt Consulting, LLC, Connecticut

4M — Supporting Kinship Care

1.5 CE hours

This session focuses on how to replicate a successful kinship navigator program—programs highlighted and funded through the Families First Prevention Services Act—that helps relative caregivers learn about and access services and supports to meet the needs of the children in their care. Come learn how to create or enhance a kinship navigator program in your community, with an emphasis on turning personal experience into action while meeting the requirements outlined in federal law.

Anntesha Chesterton, Alison Caliendo, & Nani Garrett, Foster Kinship, Nevada


Workshop Period 5
Friday, July 19, 2019
1:30 – 3:00 pm

5A — Implementing Adoption-Competency Training for Professionals

1.5 CE hours

Children and youth who are moving toward or have achieved adoption often have diverse unmet mental health needs. This workshop will present a model for implementing a statewide training initiative to develop a group of adoption-competent child welfare and mental health professionals who understand the complex issues around adoption. Presenters will discuss implementation and findings of the National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative at nine pilot sites, and how you can soon use the program in your community.

Edna Davis-Brown, MPH, Center for Adoption Support and Education, Maryland • Bonni Goodwin, LMSW, University of Oklahoma, Zarrow School of Social Work • Rebecca Sharp, South Carolina Department of Social Services

5B — I’m MAD Because You’re MAD (But How Do We Escape the “MADness”?)

1.5 CE hours

Gain insight into the nature of anger in some adoptive and foster families. We will discuss how and why parents are frequently the target of their child’s anger and what measures parents can take to diffuse it. Presenters will discuss the importance of attunement, self-awareness, self-regulation, and strategies to help the child safely discharge their anger.

Tanya Johnson-Gilchrist, Tiny Little Jewels and the University of South Florida • Sharon Dues, AMI Kids, Florida • Khalilah L. Caines, LCSW, Saint Leo University, Florida

5C — Laughter for the {Mental} Health of It: How to Ease the Stresses, Tensions, and Pains of Parenting and Everyday Life

1.5 CE hours

Laughing is one of the healthiest things one can do when facing the deep stresses, tensions, and pains of everyday life and parenting in particular. This workshop will highlight how to bring more laughter into your home life and life in general, while also making the case that laughter is an essential ingredient in preventing parent burnout for those raising even the most difficult of children.

Pat O’Brien, LMSW, LTMN, founder, You Gotta Believe!, New York

5D — Executive Function: The Missing Diagnosis

1.5 CE hours

Attachment was the issue of the 80s, then trauma became the big concern. But perhaps the most important issue is executive function—and related areas of impulse control, self-regulation, and coordination of thoughts and feelings. For many youth, these are the biggest challenges and key to working through attachment, trauma, and many other issues. This workshop focuses on what executive function is, how to see it, and what to do about executive function deficits.

John Sobraske, adoption psychotherapist, New York

5E — It’s All About the Presentation

1.5 CE hours

Have you ever wondered why some youth are more challenging to place than others? Is it due to the child’s age or behaviors? What if I told you that neither has anything to do with it? This session begins to unpack the challenges of placing teens in families and offers five tips to improve how you present teens to prospective families.

Michael Sanders, MSW, LISW, Michael Sanders Enterprises, Georgia

5G — Assessing and Building Parents’ Knowledge of Child Trauma

1.5 CE hours

It is imperative that foster and adoptive parents have sufficient knowledge of child trauma. In this session, the presenters will outline findings from a study exploring caregivers’ knowledge. After discussing the findings and how agencies can assess their adoptive, foster, and kinship parents’ knowledge, presenters will explore pragmatic solutions—such as training and support groups—that can improve caregivers’ understanding of child trauma.

Jay Miller, PhD, MSW, College of Social Work, University of Kentucky & Melissa Segress, Executive Director, Training Resource Center, College of Social Work, University of Kentucky

5H — Training Adoption and Family Resource Workers

1.5 CE hours

In 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (MA DCF) initiated a year-long project to develop a training for workers, supervisors, and managers entering family resource and adoption positions. The project resulted in a new five-day competency-based curriculum, with the goals of developing skills, increasing consistency across the state, addressing common practice issues, and giving staff resources. The presenters will share the process MA DCF used to develop the training, the training outline, topics, competencies, best practices, training methodologies, bibliography, resources, examples of training exercises, evaluation approach, and lessons learned.

Sharon Silvia, MSW, Massachusetts Department of Children & Families • Etta Lappen Davis, Massachusetts Department of Children & Families

5J — The Urgency of Seeing Color in Adoption and Foster Care

Given the current climate in America surrounding differences in race, culture, and class it is more important than ever that families are hypervigilant about understanding the impact of these differences on transracially adopted persons and their extended families. This session will outline key areas of focus for parents and professionals, including the need for ongoing conversations about race and diversity, needed behavior changes, and creating a culture where families embrace the transracial adoption experience as a whole.

April Dinwoodie, Adoptment, New York

5K — Youth Voices Matter

Too often, children and youth in foster care and adoption are voiceless in the decisions that are made for them and about them. We believe that the voices of children and youth should be heard and honored, especially in decisions that have such a profound impact on their lives. In this session designed for parents and professionals, a panel of young adults who have experienced foster care and/or adoption will share aspects of their lived experiences to help educate others on the needs of youth in care, what would have made a difference for them, and how parents and professionals can better understand and support children and youth throughout their foster care and adoption journeys.

Mercedes Zahler, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota

5L — Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking in Child Welfare

1.5 CE hours

Youth who are in or age out of the child welfare system without permanency are at higher risk of sexual exploitation and trafficking. We will discuss the scope of the issue in child welfare and foster care, warning signs, driving demand, and victim vulnerabilities (including disproportionality/disparity, mental health issues, addiction, homelessness). This workshop will allow participants to critically reflect on the role they play in ending sexual exploitation and focus on what can be done to prevent the victimization of youth at risk.

Stefania Agliano, LMSW, I AM Training and Consultation Group LLC, Connecticut • Bryan Hall, LCSW, I AM Training and Consultation Group LLC, Connecticut


Workshop Period 6
Friday, July 19, 2019
3:30 – 5:00 pm

6A — Comprehensive Family Treatment Model for Complex Developmental Trauma

1.5 CE hours

This workshop will present a model of therapeutic foster care with supportive interventions to prepare children in foster care for permanency or prevent disruption in adoptive families. The model includes medication management, attachment family therapy, EMDR, neurofeedback, parent training, helping parents with their behavioral/emotional triggers, transition, and aftercare services.

Forrest Lien, ACSW, LCSW, Institute for Attachment & Child Development, Colorado

6B — Building Skills for Success: The Collaborative Problem Solving Approach

1.5 CE hours

Struggling with a challenging kid? In this session, participants will learn about collaborative problem solving, an evidence-based approach to responding to challenging behavior that is grounded in relationship and skill building. Collaborative problem solving has proved successful in homes, residential facilities, and schools across the United States and Canada. Join us to hear more about a philosophy that has changed thousands of lives: kids do well if they can, not because they want to.

Ed Morales, MPP, MSW, LICSW, Socorro Consulting, Minnesota

6C — Painting with Purpose: A Mind, Body, and Spirit Approach to Healing Trauma

Come paint and move with us! Trauma is experienced in the mind, body, and spirit, impacting the ability to self-regulate, process thoughts and feelings, and minimize the re-experiencing of trauma. Yoga, dance, music, art, spiritual practices, and other ways of connecting to the body help individuals heal. This interactive workshop will provide basic information about the impact of trauma on children and secondary trauma on adults, demonstrate how a trauma-sensitive yoga practice, art activities, and other modalities support self-regulation and inner calm, and use breathing techniques, gentle movement, and mindfulness to help facilitate healing.

Sue Badeau, child welfare speaker/consultant, Pennsylvania • Lisa D. Maynard, LMSW, RYT, Center for Adoption Support and Education, New York • Chelsea Chris, artist, Pennsylvania

6D — Attachment and FASD (and Other Neurodevelopmental Differences)

1.5 CE hours

Attachment is critical for survival, directly impacts brain development, and creates a template for interpersonal connection. This workshop will focus on identifying the implications for relationship when a child or parent has a neurodevelopmental difference that impairs connection. We will explore the neurological impacts of prenatal exposure to alcohol and substances, and discuss strategies that enhance bonding for both children and their parents when much of what has been tried has not worked.

Janice Goldwater, Adoptions Together, Maryland

6E — Recruiting Families for Waiting Youth in the Digital Age

1.5 CE hours

Are you looking for a home for a child and struggling to find a family? Join us to learn how to reach potential families through online outreach. This presentation will include: different advocacy options in the digital age, best practices for advocating for youth while protecting their privacy, cheap and free tools to make advocacy easier, how to talk to county workers and youth about outreach, targeted marketing, and case studies from our work.

Kathy Clark, MSW, LGSW, Erin Heisler, & Kayla Hendrickson, BSW, Children’s Home and Lutheran Social Service, Minnesota

6G — CORE: Teen Training Curriculum

1.5 CE hours

CORE (Critical Ongoing Resource family Education): Teen is a state-of-the-art training to better equip foster, adoptive, and kinship parents to meet the needs of older youth who have moderate to serious emotional and behavior health challenges. Based on our evaluation in pilot sites, we will share information about the critical characteristics and competencies of successful resource families. The presenters will also discuss how your community will be able to use this new, free training curriculum.

Kim Stevens, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Vermont • Angelique Day, PhD, MSW, University of Washington School of Social Work

6H — It’s Time to Name the Big Adoption Enemy: Consumer Mentality

1.5 CE hours

When we look at why adoptions fail, sometimes we don’t see things that are really close at hand. New families getting ready for adoption need preparation not just for the children they are adopting, but for how to handle bad advice, and how to combat the consumerism in the wider American culture which is the opposite of the commitment mentality that adoptive parents need.

Maris H. Blechner, MEd, LCSW, Maris Blechner Consulting, New York

6J — Building Organizational Capacity for LGBTQ Inclusive Practice

1.5 CE hours

LGBTQ children, youth, and families continue to face barriers in the child welfare system. LGBTQ young people are over- represented in foster care and face bias and discrimination while in care. LGBTQ parents remain an untapped resource for many agencies in need of more loving homes. This workshop will discuss the barriers faced by the LGBTQ community, organizational policies and practices to remove these obstacles, and our model and tools for practice improvement.

Jean-Phillipe Regis, Human Rights Campaign, District of Columbia

6K — Unpacking the “No” to Adoption

1.5 CE hours

When approached about the idea of permanency, youth in care often respond with a resounding “No, I don’t want to be adopted.” Why is this? What’s behind the no? Designed for caregivers and professional staff, this fast-paced, fun-filled workshop intends to unpack the no and go beyond youth’s words to find the “Yes!” The presenter will share ideas that both individuals and organizations can implement to help young people say yes to a permanent family.

Michael Sanders, MSW, LISW, Michael Sanders Enterprises, Georgia

6M — Facilitating Co-Parenting Through Visitation Practice

1.5 CE hours

Visitation with birth parents for children in foster care is incredibly important. Come learn about Washoe County’s visitation practice that focuses on relationships between people that care about the children in the agency’s custody and how it is affecting outcomes such as supervision needs and length of time to reunification. The practice includes coaching for the foster parent and the birth parent and acknowledging and addressing the significant stress tied to visitation.

Stacey Lance, LMSW & Jesse Brown, Washoe County Human Services Agency, Nevada


Workshop Period 7
Saturday, July 20, 2019
8:30 – 10:00 am

7C — Self Care Isn’t Selfish

1.5 CE hours

Burnout is a risk for parents and professionals alike when faced with the aftermath of trauma. Take some time to fill your tank! During this experiential workshop, participants will practice over 10 different activities for fun and restoration. We will finish by creating a sustainable plan for incorporating healthy habits into a hectic daily life.

Jessica Sinarski, LPCMH, A Better Chance for our Children, Delaware

7D — Brains, Behavior, and Regulation

1.5 CE hours

Experiences and relationships influence our reactions. When trauma is woven in, behaviors may become inappropriate or “maladaptive.” Parenting is stressful enough, but when you add a child or youth with a trauma history, day to day life can be exhausting. This session will look at the trauma behind behaviors, uncover the function of these behaviors (there is a function to every behavior!), and discuss how caregivers and professionals develop trauma sensitive responses.

Denise C. Rice, LCSW, LAC, HOPEful Healing Training and Consulting, Colorado

7G — Adoption Assistance for Special Needs Adoptions

In this session, you will learn the basics of adoption assistance for children adopted from foster care, including eligibility, benefits, tax ramifications, and more. Participants will receive state-specific information and will come away with concrete strategies to better advocate for foster and adopted children with special needs. The workshop will also include an overview of the US federal adoption tax credit.

Josh Kroll, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota

7I — Advocating For Your Child at School: Trauma-Informed Strategies That Work

Parents are often at a loss for how to help their trauma-impacted children at school. And schools are often confused as well. Trauma is not widely considered when trying to understand a child’s unique behaviors or learning struggles, yet a significant number of children have experienced adverse childhood experiences that hamper their school success. This workshop will focus on trauma-informed strategies that can be implemented with or without an individualized education program (IEP) that will help the child feel safe and connected, get regulated, and learn.

Julie Beem, MBA, Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc., Georgia

7J — LGBT Parents and Our Children

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parenting looks like most other parenting, but there are some important differences. We must equip our children to navigate a unique set of challenges in a society that often judges their family unit as inferior. From subtle exclusion to outright discrimination, our children are on the front lines. The presenters will offer practical and humorous advice on how LGBT families nurture self-acceptance and resilience.

John Ireland, RaiseAChild, California

7K — Improving Communication and Relationship with Teens

Foster and adoptive parents face unique situations and challenges with their teenage children. This more advanced workshop delves into how parents can use the BioSocial Cognition model to overcome challenges with youth. Come learn how and why memories affect your teen’s behavior, and use this new knowledge to better identify needs, understand where teens are coming from, and improve your communication and relationship with your teens.

Thomas C. Rector, Accrescent Institute, California

7L — Thriving!: Moving Beyond Trauma-Informed to Nurturing Resilience

In recent years, knowledge about the impact of trauma on children and adults has exploded and opportunities to become “trauma-informed” abound. Yet many still wonder, what do I do with this information to truly help my child (and myself) to blossom and thrive after trauma? This workshop will explore the ABCs of resilience and participants will leave with concrete tips, tools, and strategies to help children become more resilient after experiencing early life trauma.

Sue Badeau, child welfare speaker/consultant, Pennsylvania


Workshop Period 8
Saturday, July 20, 2019
10:30 am – 12:00 pm

8A — Theraplay®: A Therapeutic Intervention Using Attachment-Based Play

1.5 CE hours

Theraplay is a modality of play therapy focused on building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. Based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child, Theraplay is personal, physical, and fun. This workshop will provide mental health professionals, adoption workers, and families an overview of the Theraplay model, discuss practical applications, and engage in interactive, play-based activities.

Andrea Bushala, LCSW, The Theraplay Institute, Illinois

8B — Putting Concepts to Work: Practicing Therapeutic Parenting

1.5 CE hours

How many workshops have you attended with great information on theory and general concepts, yet you leave feeling like there is nothing to try when you get home? Join this interactive workshop which will cover practical application of de-escalation, how to use the PACE model, and how to practice structured therapeutic parenting. Roll up your sleeves and be ready to take home realistic ideas to help regulate your child.

Mary M. McGowan, ATTACh, Minnesota

8C — Promising Practices in Adoption: Identity Formation and Search and Reunion

1.5 CE hours

Presented by two seasoned, international transracial/ethnic/cultural Vietnamese Amerasian adoptees, this engaging session will explore how to advance culturally responsive work in identity formation and search and reunion. Focused on building and fortifying healthy relationships with birth and social kin, the interactive workshop will highlight promising practices, helpful tools, and supports that honor adoptees, families, and communities.

Tara Linh Leaman, JD, Westchester County Department of Social Services, New York • Trista Goldberg, Operation Reunite, New Jersey

8E — Beyond Recruitment — Streamlining the Approval Process

1.5 CE hours

What happened to all those prospective foster and adoptive parents that looked like ideal prospects? Once potential families are interested, we must guide them through the approval and training process. This session will discuss the first phone call, orientation, training, and smoothing out the licensing process to increase your number of approved families.

Denise Goodman, PhD, trainer/consultant, Ohio

8F — Making a Trauma-Informed Decision Based on Readiness for Relationship Permanency

1.5 CE hours

How does trauma affect the attachment process and what implications does trauma have for developing relationships of permanence? Participants will be introduced to a readiness continuum tool—based on 3-5-7 Model® concepts—that they can use to assess in-depth indicators of children and families’ readiness for permanency. The model considers all relationships (including birth parents and all resource parents) in defining permanency.

Darla L. Henry, PhD, MSW, Darla L. Henry and Associates, Pennsylvania

8J — The Impact of Worker and Caregiver Bias on Children’s Identity Formation

1.5 CE hours

Primarily for child welfare workers, this workshop starts with a powerful narrative that explores the impact of bias on identity; presents research and guidance for workers and parents about good practices for working with children of color and making decisions about placement and permanency options; and explores how to advocate for best practices to support positive identity for children of color in care.

Susan Harris O’Connor, MSW • Ruth G. McRoy, PhD, Boston College, Massachusetts • Kim Stevens, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Vermont

8K — Developing and Implementing a Youth Mentoring Program

1.5 CE hours

Aging UP is a mentoring program that provides vital supports to older youth with foster care experience to help them grow into happy, healthy, successful adults. Using one-to-one mentoring, the program ensures youth have a positive adult role model in their lives. This presentation will describe the recruitment and training efforts that go into creating a positive match between youth and mentor and how the program incorporates positive recreation and independent living skill education.

Kecia Sakazaki & April Johnson, Aging UP, California • Sandra Sertyn, LCSW, Sierra Forever Families, California

8L — Talking to Kids about Tough Stuff

1.5 CE hours

Children do best when they know the truth about their lives. Sharing difficult information with children is not easy. This workshop will give you the tools to discuss the most challenging situations (such as abuse, parental incarceration, death, HIV, incest, termination of parental rights) to children of all ages. Please bring your challenging questions to the session. No topic is off limits!

Barry Chaffkin, Fostering Change for Children, New York


Workshop Period 9
Saturday, July 20, 2019
1:30 – 3:00 pm

9A — Disenfranchised Grief in Adoption

1.5 CE hours

Disenfranchised grief is a loss that cannot be openly acknowledged, publicly mourned, or socially supported. Many in the adoption constellation experience a myriad of emotions at various stages in their lives regarding their part in the adoption process, and all can experience this type of grief that is difficult to explain, confusing, and for some, overwhelming. This workshop will provide support, hope, and practical ideas to help those who experience disenfranchised grief.

Janet Nordine, MS, LMFT, RPT, Experience Courage Therapy and Consultation and Adoptees Connect, Nevada

9B — 10 Parenting Skills an Adoptee Wants Every Parent to Know

1.5 CE hours

This workshop presents parents with new ways to see, hear, and understand their children and key skills they can use in daily practice. At the core is developing a mindset focused on growth rather than fear. The presenter will review brain functioning, tools for parents to respond without reactivity, and ways to enhance child, youth, and parental regulation with resilience.

Jeanette Yoffe, MFT, Yoffe Therapy, California

9D — Emotional Regulatory Healing

1.5 CE hours

Trauma and loss change everything; change us; change the way we see and live in the world; change the way we relate to others; change how we act and feel, how we think and learn, and, if left unattended, trauma and loss change the way our brain functions. Come learn about Emotional Regulatory Healing (ERH). Taught in simple yet profound ways, ERH integrates core principles of neurodevelopment with mindful healing practice to mitigate the negative impact of trauma and loss.

Jules Alvarado, MA, LPC, Alvarado Consulting and Treatment Group, Colorado • Liz Clark, MA, LPC

9F — Adoption and Other Options for Teens

1.5 CE hours

This workshop provides a model for teen permanence that includes dealing with teen ambivalence toward a permanent family, locating families, making the strongest placements, and supporting the placement. Reassessing birth parents, relatives, and past connections is the focus, even when a TPR has taken place. Other recruitment activities will be discussed as well. This is an interactive workshop—bring your most challenging cases for discussion.

Barry Chaffkin, Fostering Change for Children, New York

9G — Foster Care To Adoption: Eliminating The “Drift” And Saving Adoptions

1.5 CE hours

Is there a special recognition needed when foster parents decide to adopt their long-time foster children to help keep those placements solid? Here is a fresh look, from a long term adoption advocate and practitioner, at how to plan and celebrate the transition from foster care to adoption. Discussion includes some reasons why foster families need rituals and support as much as “new” adoptive families.

Maris H. Blechner, MEd, LCSW, Maris Blechner Consulting, New York

9J — Helping White Families Consider, Understand, and Prepare for Transracial Adoption

1.5 CE hours

White transracially adopting parents (parents adopting across racial lines) are better prepared to be successful if they are educated in advance about race, racism, white privilege, and how these issues will play out in the context of their family when children and parents do not share the same racial identity. This workshop will use Pact’s federally funded self-assessment tool that helps families determine where they stand by calculating their own transracial adoption suitability index.

Katie Wynen, MSW, Pact, An Adoption Alliance, California

9L — Who’s Talking to Your Child: What You Need to Know about Internet Safety

1.5 CE hours

The internet has changed the way children interact with the world. They have ready access to in-depth knowledge, tools to express their creativity, and people from all over. With that access, children—particularly vulnerable children—are at increased risk of victimization. This workshop will discuss the risks children face online and on mobile devices, warning signs, practical strategies to monitor your child’s internet safety, and how to talk to your child about safe activities.

Paula Lupton & Kim Purinton, Centene, Florida

9M — Openness and Technology

This presentation explores the impact of technology on post-adoptive openness. With an adoptee-centered focus, we’ll explore how technology can help or hamper relationships of the adoption triad. Parents and caregivers will leave with strategies to proactively support children and youth in exploring and maintaining healthy relationships, no matter what level of openness their adoptions currently include.

Sarah Reid & Taryn Danford, Adoptive Families Association of British Columbia



Back to Top

Our Mission

The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) supports, educates, inspires, and advocates so adoptive families thrive and every child in foster care has a permanent, safe, loving family.


What We Do
Core Beliefs and Values
Board of Directors
Our Partners
Sponsorship Opportunities


North American Council
on Adoptable Children
970 Raymond Avenue
Suite 106
St. Paul, MN 55114


Staff Contact Info

The North American Council on Adoptable Children