The 2021 NACAC conference is a four-day event from July 20 to 23, with a number of workshops to be offered each day. Attendees will be able to register for two, three, or four days depending on their interests.
There are five keynotes—one each on Tuesday to Thursday, and two on Friday. For all other periods, there are two workshops to choose from. If you are attending live, you’ll choose one session to attend but will receive a recording of both.
All times below are in central daylight time.
9:15 – 10:30 am
1A — Building Organizational Capacity for LGBTQ Inclusive Practice
LGBTQ+ young people and Black & Brown youth are overrepresented in foster care and, unfortunately, face bias and discrimination while in care. When providing services to gender and sexual minority youth, it is important to consider how navigating multiple marginalized identities can create unique challenges for them. This workshop will discuss the barriers faced by LGBTQ+ youth, the additional challenges of LGBTQ+ youth of color, how to use an intersectional lens to inform your work, organizational policies to reduce these barriers, and model and tools from HRC’s All Children—All Families for practice improvement.
Nia Desiré Clark, BSW, Human Rights Campaign Foundation, District of Columbia
1B — Looking Forward for Recruitment
This session will explore four common challenges when recruiting foster and adoptive families: recruiting families who are truly motivated to parent teens; finding families who are committed to supporting birth parents; seeking families who will parent sibling groups; and lessons learned from recruiting during COVID. Join us for this fast-paced, provocative session!
Denise Goodman, PhD, ACSW, trainer/consultant, Ohio
11:00 – 12:30 pm
Keynote: I Want a Family, But I Want it My Way
This fun-filled, engaging keynote addresses the critically important work of ensuring all youth are engaged in their permanency process! Teens are more likely to participate with a plan they agree with and are more likely to agree with a plan they helped to develop. You can make the difference for young people not just by engaging them, but doing it their way.
Michael Sanders, MSW, LISW, 220 Experience, Georgia • Jamole Callahan, 220 Experience, Ohio • Adrian McLemore, 220 Experience, Maryland
12:30 – 1:30 pm: Lunch Break
Grab your lunch and explore the Exhibit Hall!
1:30 – 2:45 pm
3A — Rethinking Adoption Recruitment in the Black Community: Examining Engagement Along the Continuum
This workshop will explore techniques and messaging used to recruit adoptive families in the Black community. The presenters will guide you through an examination of techniques used in the past and ways to adjust engagement while upholding cultural competence.
Deborah Burrus & Evangel D. Wicks, Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, Georgia
3B — Preparing Families for Success: Focusing on the Child’s Experiences and Needs
The preparation a foster or adoptive family receives before a child is placed in their home can have a lasting impact on the long-term outcomes for both the child and the family as a whole. Effective pre-service and ongoing training and education must be timely, responsive to and inclusive of new research, and steeped in trauma and attachment guidance. In this session, we will discuss both the content and the delivery of kinship/foster/adoptive parent training.
Kim Stevens, MEd, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Vermont
3:15 – 4:30 pm
4A — Helping Older Youth in Care Transition to Adulthood
This workshop explores how agencies can support young adults who have aged out or are at risk of aging out of care. The presenter will discuss services young people most need, how to implement a strengths-based approach that allows young adults to thrive, and what to consider when bringing services to your community.
Nathan Ross, adopted person/consultant/trainer, Missouri
4B — Making Your Support Services for Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Families More Effective
Support services for foster, adoptive, and kinship families are crucial for promoting and sustaining child and family well-being. No matter what services you provide, you can take steps to make them more effective. Come learn about assessing the needs of your resource families and your service array, incorporating peer support, the importance of getting feedback from youth and parents, and evaluating outcomes. Presenters will also share tools you can use or adapt to improve the effectiveness of your support services. Participants will have the opportunity to share what is working in their own jurisdiction and learn from their peers’ experiences.
Britt Cloudsdale, MSW, AdoptUSKids, North Carolina • Alicia Groh, MPP, AdoptUSKids, Minnesota
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
8:45 – 10:00 am (note different start time from other days!)
5A — Identity and Belonging for Adoptees
Adopted children and adults often live in a dual inner world as a result of a dual outer world. They move from an original family to other forms of family or permanence and their inner journey to find a sense of identity and belonging can feel and be very different. This workshop explores how a sense of belonging and identity is formed for adopted children and adults and offers practical approaches to support them.
Dianne Mathes, RSW, Adoption Council of Ontario
5B — Lessons from the Toughest Cases: Working With Attachment Issues and Complex Trauma
This session for parents or professionals provides effective, practical, real world strategies to use working with and parenting children and adolescents facing challenges. A seasoned therapist and a veteran adoptive parent/therapist, the presenters will share lessons gleaned from their work in residential treatment as well as parenting experiences, and will distill concepts from many clinical models including Theraplay®, Trust-Based Relational intervention (TBRI®), and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy.
Karen Buckwalter, MSW, LCSW, Chaddock, South Carolina • Lori Thomas, Emmaus Family Counseling Center, Virginia
10:30 – 12:00 pm
Keynote: Collaborative and Proactive Solutions: Moving From Power and Control to Collaboration and Problem Solving
In this session, Dr. Ross Greene will explain the evidence-based model he describes in his influential books The Explosive Child, Lost at School, Lost & Found, and Raising Human Beings. The Collaborative Problem Solving model has transformed thinking and practices in countless families and institutional settings, and has been associated with dramatic reductions in conflict and challenging behaviors. The session will highlight how to use the model to focus on solving problems rather than modifying behavior, emphasize collaborative rather than unilateral solutions, encourage intervention, and provide practical, research-based tools that parents and professionals can use to help children thrive.
Ross Greene, PhD, clinical psychologist/author, Maine
12:00 – 1:30 pm: Lunch Break
During this longer lunch break, be sure to explore the resources in the Exhibit Hall!
1:30 – 3:30 pm
7A — Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders from a Trauma Lens
In child welfare, we see high rates of children who have been prenatally exposed to alcohol and drugs along with high levels of in-utero stress, which can have a significant impact on a child’s brain development. Although fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are twice as common as autism, this disorder often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Children and adolescents with an FASD have invisible brain injuries and typical parenting strategies can create more problems than they solve. Professionals and parents will learn the reasons behind children’s learning and behavioral challenges and trauma-informed caregiving strategies that focus on relationship, connection, and reducing the child’s anxiety.
Barb Clark, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota
7B — Virtual Family Finding Strategies: Locating Kin through Databases, Social Media, and Great First Impressions
We all know (or should know) the benefits of engaging relatives to support children who need families, and the laws that support relative involvement. In this session, we will introduce practical family finding practices that may be used by any member of the child’s professional team. We will review case mining, internet and database searches, interviewing children and their relatives/kin, genograms, and recommendations for family engagement.
Jennifer Townsend & Lori Ross, FosterAdopt Connect, Missouri
4:00 – 5:15 pm
8A — Straight Talk for Kids: Dealing With The Toughest Topics
Successful adoption work and parenting includes telling some difficult truths to children. Both parents and professionals need to understand how to talk with children at different developmental stages, in ways that ensure the children hear and understand even the most difficult information. Attendees will learn the reasoning and practical techniques of the “straight talk” method to communicate effectively with children.
Maris H. Blechner, MEd, LCSW, Maris Blechner Consulting, New York
8B — Ambiguous Loss and Adoption
Ambiguous loss and disenfranchised grief are concepts that can help us better understand the experiences of adopted and fostered people and birth/first families. This presentation will introduce the audience to ambiguous loss and disenfranchised grief, identify the ways in which these concepts affect adopted and foster children and adults, and how child welfare professionals, adoptive and foster parents, and communities can be sensitive to those experiencing ambiguous loss.
JaeRan Kim, PhD, MSW, University of Washington Tacoma, Social Work and Criminal Justice program
Thursday, July 22, 2021
9:15 – 10:30 am
9A — Their Story Isn’t Over: Parenting Children or Adolescents Who Act Out with Sexual Behaviors
In this session, a seasoned adoptive mother will discuss which sexual behaviors require a simple redirection and what is out- right dangerous. She’ll also discuss how parents can work on their own feelings, keeping everyone safe, and keeping attachment growing.
Monica Cohu, Family Restoration Services, Missouri
9B — The Blanket of Permanency: Understanding the Journey
In this workshop, we will explore the concept of the blanket of permanency and how it can be used to understand the lifelong journey. Each component of a person’s permanency journey includes intergenerational and prenatal elements. By the end of this session, participants will be able to use the blanket of permanency concept to assess, explore, and explain the various issues along the permanency journey and strategies to address the challenges encountered along the way.
Karen Moore, RSW, Open Doors for Lanark Children and Youth, Ontario
11:00 – 12:30 pm
Keynote: Attachment, Attuned Parenting, and Reasoning: The Power of Showing Up
The science of attachment reveals that the best predictor of a child’s developing resilience and well-being is the caregiver’s mental presence—how they show up for a child. When parents are present for who their child is, the outcome is secure attachment. The presenter will highlight for parents and professionals how to build the kinds of relational connections that foster growth and the child’s own capacity to be fully present for life, even when they have experienced loss and trauma in their early lives. You’ll leave this session with practical strategies to help the children in your care.
Dan Siegel, MD, Mindsight Institute, California
2:30 – 1:30 pm: Lunch Break
Check out the virtual Exhibit Hall
1:30 – 2:45 pm
11A — Historical Trauma: What It Is and How to Move Forward
Join us for a discussion about historical trauma, its effect upon young people’s development, its real impact today, and some suggestions about how to move forward. A member of the Pomo/Coast Miwok tribe, the presenter will offer the session based on his background [including as a state and tribal court judge] and perspective, but with guiding principles that overlap other perspectives.
Judge William Thorne, retired judge, Utah
11B — The Eye of the Storm: Preventing, Responding to, and Recovering from Family Crises
Children who have experienced trauma, survived multiple moves, live with the effects of prenatal alcohol or drug exposure, or cope with a volatile mix of physical, relational, and social challenges often exhibit rages or other escalating behaviors that descend upon them and their family with the force of a hurricane. How can parents be prepared to recognize the early warning signs, respond in the midst of crisis, get help when needed, and recover after the storm? This workshop will provide a framework for understanding the storms and practical tools for managing crises, including when out-of-home placement is necessary. Parents and professionals will leave with strategies, tips, and tools.
Sue Badeau, Badeau Family Books and Consulting, Pennsylvania
3:15 – 4:30 pm
12A — A Neurodevelopmental Approach to Treating Complex Trauma
Children who have experienced complex trauma need a bottom-up therapeutic approach, engaging the body in movement, rhythm, and sensory-based interventions. Starting here allows therapists and others serving children to move into higher brain approaches to therapy, including symbolic play and cognitive-based therapies. Based on the most up-to-date research in the relational neurosciences, this workshop outlines a neurodevelopmental approach for those working with children who have experienced complex trauma.
Robyn Gobbel, LMSW, private practice, Michigan
12B — Cockpit Conversations, The Couples Check-Up: Keeping Relationships Strong in the Adoption and Fostering Journey
Before the adoption and fostering journey, we are often coached and trained on numerous ways to “prepare for the child.” However, preparing a relationship for the adoption dynamic is rarely discussed. Co-piloting through the multilayered haze of trauma, adoption, and special needs can become exhausting—paralyzing a relationship. The stress and pressure of effective parenting can highlight relational stress fractures. So what can couples do to ensure their partnership remains stable and strong? This session, led by a husband and wife clinical team, who are also adoptive parents, will explore how to cultivate connection and increase relational elasticity, while caring for children from traumatic backgrounds. This is a candid training regarding the turbulence of communication, conflict resolution, intimacy, and relationships and the intersectionality of caring for vulnerable children. Speakers will coach on ways couples can learn how to build on strengths, maximize differences, and work together for the best interests of their relationship, which in turn is the best present we can ever give to a child who so desperately needs a safe environment to heal and grow.
Torrey Carroll, MA, LPC, & Nikki Carroll, MA, LPC, The TNC Psychotherapy Group, PLLC, Texas
Friday, July 23, 2021
9:15 – 10:30 am
13A — The Strategies of Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®)
This presentation will include practical ways to apply some of the TBRI principles and strategies, including Connecting Principles to improve engagement/attachment (through eye contact and play) and mindfulness about your own feelings and history. A focus will be on the Correcting Principles—“Levels of Response™” and the “IDEAL Response©”—which provide guiding steps for managing children’s challenging behavior.
Daren Jones, LMSW, Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development, Texas
13B — Advocating for your Child: Building an Informed Partnership with the School
Childhood trauma is a national health epidemic. As many as half of all of the children in every classroom, every day, have been exposed to some form of adverse childhood experience. And yet, schools are slow to recognize these children and the effect their experiences can have on their school performance. This engaging workshop will provide a roadmap parents can use to work with schools to provide their children with a trauma-informed and culturally competent school experience.
Melissa Sadin, EdD, Ducks & Lions: Trauma Sensitive Resources, New Jersey
11:00 – 12:30 pm
Keynote: Race and Equity Issues in Foster Care and Adoption
On our respective sides of the border we continue to have poor outcomes for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and LGBTQ2S+ children and youth. Child welfare sectors must be committed to addressing anti-Black racism and anti-Indigeneity, while embedding equity into the fabric of their agencies. This commitment includes understanding that the identities of foster and adoptive parents are not neutral and impact the outcomes for children and youth from marginalized communities. The growth and development of foster and adoptive parents must be centered. The default for placements for children and youth must be homes that affirm, support, and celebrate their identities. The presentation will highlight other key issues regarding the disparity and disproportionality experienced by marginalized communities as well as provide strategies for moving forward.
Michelle Young, MSW, RSW, Centre Truth, Ontario
12:30 – 1:30 pm: Lunch Break
Grab your lunch and explore the Exhibit Hall!
1:30 – 2:45 pm
15A — Ten Parenting Skills an Adoptee Wants Every Parent to Know
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
15B — Transition Mountain: A Team Approach
Professionals and caregivers have a distinct and pivotal role in the process of supporting children and youth before, during, and after a move. Successful transitions require a team approach, including resource parents and their families, other children in the home, birth family members with whom the child is in contact, teachers, friends, workers, and other professionals in their life. In this session, you’ll learn how to design and implement a team-based transition plan that sets the child and family up for success.
Heather Richardson, adoptive parent, Ontario • Terra Bovingdon, MSW, RSW, family and child therapist, Ontario
3:15 – 4:45 pm
Keynote: May the Force Be with You: The Power of Love in Healing Trauma
World-renowned expert in adoption and trauma, Bryan Post will close out this year’s conference with an inspiring, uplifting, and enlightening presentation on the power of love in healing. When the world we live in is an upheaval of fear and anxiety, children in adoption and foster care experience a double impact of stress and being overwhelmed. Fear of the unknown can trigger anxiety both in the home and within the brain. Understanding the intricate dance between love and fear is the key to creating peace in your home and in your relationship with your child, but this is only the beginning. Light saber not included!
Bryan Post, Post Institute, Oklahoma