Please note these sessions were at the 2017 NACAC conference and are posted below to give you a general idea of the type of sessions that will be offered at the 2018 conference.


The 2018 conference will be held from Wednesday to Friday with the pre-conference session on Tuesday. These are different days of the week than the conference has been scheduled in the past.


General Sessions

July 20, 2017 — Heather Forbes, LCSW, “Helping Children Love Themselves: Overcoming Their Negative Belief Systems”

In Thursday’s general session on July 20, Heather Forbes, LCSW, will talk about how many children whose histories include chronic and prolonged abuse, abandonment, or neglect can develop negative belief systems that drive them to self-sabotage, reject love, and create chaos. Ms. Forbes will discuss how to help children change negative beliefs into positive ones of self-love, self-acceptance, and self-confidence.

Heather Forbes is founder of the Beyond Consequences Institute, and has worked in the field of trauma and healing since 1999. Heather is an internationally published author on the topics of raising children with difficult and severe behaviors, the impact of trauma on the developing child, adoptive parenthood, and self-development. Much of her experience and insight on understanding trauma, disruptive behaviors, and adoption-related issues comes from her direct experience as an adoptive mother.

July 21, 2017 — Young Adult Panel, “Unpacking the ‘No’ to Adoption”

Friday’s keynote session, “Unpacking the ‘No’ to Adoption,” moderated by Michael Sanders, features young adults who will share their expertise about why some young people say no to adoption and how workers and caregivers can help them understand the value of having a permanent family.

Michael Sanders is a consultant with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and a nationally recognized speaker and trainer.

July 22, 2017 — Awards Luncheon and Closing Session by Barry Chaffkin, LCSW

At Saturday’s awards luncheon, NACAC will honor outstanding individuals and organizations making a difference in adoption. (See list of award winners.)

Preceding the awards ceremony, Barry Chaffkin, LCSW, will give the closing session.

Barry Chaffkin, LCSW, is the chief executive officer of Fostering Change for Children.

Pre-Conference Session

On July 19, 2017, Heather Forbes, LCSW, will present “Beyond Consequences: Helping Children Heal.”

This full-day session for parents and professionals will examine how stress and trauma affect a child’s ability to regulate their behaviors and how a history of trauma compromises a child’s ability to respond to and develop reciprocal relationships.

The presenter will explain brain development from conception on, accompanied by a look at how the nervous system is affected by trauma. This session offers effective options and strategies for children and families that go beyond traditional cognitive behavioral techniques to create healing homes for families with wounded children.

Heather Forbes is founder of the Beyond Consequences Institute, and has worked in the field of trauma and healing since 1999. Heather is an internationally published author on the topics of raising children with difficult and severe behaviors, the impact of trauma on the developing child, adoptive parenthood, and self-development. Much of her experience and insight on understanding trauma, disruptive behaviors, and adoption-related issues comes from her direct experience as an adoptive mother.

  • Date: July 19, 2017
    Time: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
    Audience: Parents and Professionals
    Registration fee: $115 U.S./$150 Cdn.
    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/.6 CEUs) can be purchased at the end of the session.



Workshop Period 1
July 20, 2017
10:30 am – 12:30 pm


1A — Developmental Trauma

This workshop will take a close look at how trauma, attachment, and development intertwine for children who have faced extensive foster care, orphanage life, neglect, or abuse. The presenter will identify how early trauma affects the developing brain and hormone system, the sense of self, and attachment relationships and will provide practical interventions.
John Sobraske, adoption therapist, New York

1B — Building an Adoption-Competent Child Welfare and Mental Health Workforce

Children in adoption often have diverse unmet mental health needs. Adoptive parents cite competent mental health care as one of their greatest unmet needs. Social workers and therapists too often have limited understanding of trauma, grief, loss, identity, and other issues that complicate mental health problems. This presentation will highlight the need for adoption-competency training and present two state-of-the-art initiatives—the classroom-based Training for Adoption Competency and the web-based National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative.
Debbie Riley & Dawn Wilson, Center for Adoption Support and Education, Maryland • Liz Gallaspy, Georgia State University School of Social Work • Anne J. Atkinson, PhD, PolicyWorks, Ltd., Virginia

1C — Hurt Kids, Healing Parents

This training will discuss the latest research and techniques related to assessing, treating, and parenting children affected by trauma. The presenters will address the neurological, developmental, and biological differences of individuals who have experienced trauma, and how parents and professionals can help these children in their healing. Upon completion of this workshop, participants will have a toolkit of trauma-informed interventions.
Kelly Ryan-Schmidt & Meghan Nagle, Three Rivers Adoption Council, Pennsylvania

1D — 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

1E — Lying, Stealing, and Manipulating: What to Do About Challenging Behaviors

Children who have experienced trauma, neglect, and disruptions have typically learned defensive strategies to avoid (not connect), to defend (not cooperate), and to harm (not heal). Often these defensive strategies manifest in behaviors like lying, stealing, and manipulating. Unfortunately, traditional parenting interventions are often ineffective. Learn effective strategies to improve your child’s negative internal working model and disarm these defense strategies.
Allison Maxon, LMFT, National Center on Adoption and Permanency, California

1F — Child Welfare Policy Changes at the Federal Level: What You Need to Know

In 2017, there are many changes happening in child welfare at the federal level. Join us for a lively, two-hour, discussion-style workshop on what has happened to date and what might be expected in the coming days.
Melissa Carter, Barton Child Law & Policy Center, Georgia • Michelle Barclay, Supreme Court of Georgia’s Committee on Justice for Children

1G — Relative-ly Speaking: Linking Foster Children to their Past, Present, and Future Through Relative Engagement

Come and learn amazing ways that the 30 Days to Family® team is using strong engagement with relatives to improve outcomes for children! Walk away empowered with excellent techniques for locating extended family members and strategies for involving them as supports. A child’s relatives are the experts on the child, and with their help we can create lifetime connections for young people.
Patrick Pisani, Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition, Missouri

1H — Racial Identity at the Intersection of Artist, Academic, and Advocate

This stimulating workshop uses a collaborative style to present the complicated and, at times, emotionally charged issues related to race and culture. Susan—who was in foster care and is a Jewish, tri-racial, transracial adoptee—begins by performing her autobiographical narratives. Next, Ruth shares her research findings and discusses the development of racial identity in transracial adoption. Finally, Kim will engage audience members in exploring their beliefs and values related to race, identity, family membership, and privilege.
Kim Stevens, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Vermont • Ruth G. McRoy, PhD, Boston College, Massachusetts • Susan Harris O’Connor, MSW, author/performance artist, Massachusetts

1I — Always Have a Plan B…. And Other Survival Skills We Need!

Today’s pressures add even more stress to all of us in the child welfare world, whether we are adoptive and foster parents, caseworkers, supervisors and administrators, parent group leaders, therapists, or attorneys. It is more important than ever for us to have the skills necessary to survive, keep moving forward, and not burn out. This workshop offers new perspectives and reexamines some old ideas about this important topic.
Maris H. Blechner, MEd, LCSW, Maris Blechner Consulting LLC, New York

1J — Hitting The Mark! Targeted Recruitment Strategies

This session will help participants gain skills to design recruitment campaigns that educate their communities about the need for foster and adoptive parents. The speaker will pay special attention to designing recruitment strategies focused on teens, children with disabilities and challenges, sibling groups, children of color, and other target communities.
Denise Goodman, PhD, trainer/consultant, Ohio

1K — #NobodyAgesOut: Housing Doesn’t Solve Aging Out, Families Do

Discussions about aging out of care typically focus on providing housing and other services to youth we have failed. You Gotta Believe’s Nobody Ages Out movement seeks permanency solutions that prevent aging out. Through presentation and discussion, this session will share how to develop a movement that attacks the aging out problem on multiple levels, including direct permanency work, capacity building, and advocacy—with alumni and youth voices at the core of the movement.
Susan Grundberg, Brieanna Hayes, & Anni Keane, You Gotta Believe!, New York

1L — Building Skill in Trauma-Focused Parenting: Two New Curricula for Foster, Kin, and Adoptive Parents

The Annie E. Casey Foundation worked with developers of two trauma-focused clinical interventions to create training curricula to build the skills of foster, kinship, and adoptive parents—ARC Reflections and Trauma Systems Therapy for Foster Parents. The session will introduce and sample both new resources and provide tips for implementation based on the pilot sites’ experiences.
Maureen Heffernan, Nina Marino, & Laura Neal, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Maryland

Workshop Period 2
July 20, 2017
2:00 – 3:30 pm


2A — Mind, Body, and Spirit: A Sensorimotor Approach to Healing Trauma

Trauma is experienced in the mind, body, and spirit, affecting the ability to self-regulate, and to process thoughts and feelings. Yoga, dance, music, art, spiritual practices, and other ways of connecting to the body help individuals heal. We will demonstrate breathing techniques, gentle movement, mindfulness, nonverbal expression, and meditation to help facilitate healing. Come prepared to learn but be ready to get up, move around, stretch, paint, and be creative!
Sue Badeau, child welfare speaker/consultant, Pennsylvania • Lisa Maynard, LMSW, Center for Adoption Support and Education, New York • Chelsea Chris, artist, Pennsylvania

2B — Embedding Adoption/Permanency Clinical Competence Across Communities

Come learn about a model of adoption/permanency clinical competence built for public and private sector professionals, as well as a mirror curriculum developed to support adoptive, foster, and relative parents through all aspects of parenting children with primary loss, attachment disruptions, and complex trauma. Pathways to Permanence 2 is a permanency focused, trauma-informed, psycho-educational model designed to support families through the normative crisis stages that occur when parenting children who have experienced complex trauma.
Allison Maxon, LMFT & Carol Biddle, MSW, National Center on Adoption and Permanency, California • Debbie Schugg, Kinship Center, California

2C — Inducement: Understanding the Acting-Out Behavior of Your Adopted Children

This workshop offers a positive approach for workers and families to make sense of (and deal with) some of the anger and frustration adopted children can make their parents feel. Understanding this dynamic, as well as other key parent/child interactions unique to new adoptive families, can help turn a crisis in an adoptive family into an opportunity for true communication and strengthened commitment.
Maris H. Blechner, MEd, LCSW, Maris Blechner Consulting LLC, New York

2D — Post-Adoption Services in Georgia

Adoptions do not end after the court hearing. Families often need post-adoption services to assist with their needs long after an adoption has finalized. This workshop will explore the post-adoption services offered through the Adoption Assistance program for Georgia families and cover effective strategies for advocating for adoptive families.
Adrian Owens, Frank Twitty, & Leah Waters, Georgia Division of Family & Children Services

2E — Keeping the Hardest Kids Out of Residential: An In-Home Intervention

This session presents an innovative in-home therapeutic program that keeps children with very challenging behaviors at home and out of treatment centers. Through the behavioral interventionist (BI) program, foster/adoptive families engage with highly trained behavioral specialists who implement a treatment plan in the child’s home and community. Using neural developmental strategies, specialists work one-on-one with the child to improve emotional regulation and de-escalate crises, while the child is cared for at home.
Lori Ross, FosterAdopt Connect, Missouri • Susan Peach, Lifeworks Family Treatment Group of Kansas City, Kansas

2F — In the Best Interests of Children and Families: New Indian Child Welfare Act Regulations and Guidelines

In December 2016, new comprehensive Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) regulations and guidelines went into effect. The regulations and guidelines provide additional clarity and new requirements for implementation of ICWA that address several areas of services for American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, including both voluntary and involuntary adoption proceedings. This workshop will provide an overview of the new regulations and guidelines plus practice tips for child welfare practitioners.
David Simmons, MSW, National Indian Child Welfare Association, Oregon

2G — An Open Adoption Journey: Birth and Adoptive Mothers Aren’t Natural Enemies

Three African American women will take you on a journey that spans almost three decades using video and personal stories. They will stress the importance of openness while dispelling persistent myths and fears. This workshop explores the importance of birth family and sibling connections, parenting the adopted child, pre- and post-adoption services, and how all connect to make an open adoption successful. Attendees will gain insights and an appreciation for why living, laughing, and love should prevail in all adoptions.
Laveda Moore Doxey, LCSW, adoption social worker, Georgia • Andrea Berry, adoptive parent, Georgia • Latonya Russell, birth mother, Georgia

2H — 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 presenter will offer practical and humorous advice on how LGBT families nurture self-acceptance and resilience.
John Ireland, RaiseAChild.US, California

2I — Back in the Saddle: An Agency Executive Returns to Direct Line Work

After directing agencies to recruit permanent families for youth on the verge of aging out of foster care for over a quarter of a century, this former executive took a sabbatical to recruit parents for teens as a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter. Come hear how this front-line journey has changed every aspect of the presenter’s future work and how you might make important changes too.
Pat O’Brien, LMSW, LTMN, founder, You Gotta Believe!, New York

2J — Effective Photolisting: Systems Approaches to Implementation and Sustainability

This workshop will present new AdoptUSKids guidance on how to write high-quality child narratives for photolistings. Developed in consultation with experts around the country, the guidance is based on best practices in states and our national photolisting. We will provide strategies for writing narratives that highlight a child’s individual strengths while protecting privacy and dignity. We will also discuss ways to build agency capacity and reform culture and infrastructure to ensure the best possible practices and outcomes.
Jill Marshall May & Tracy Serdjenian, National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids, Colorado • Mary Boo, AdoptUSKids, Minnesota

2K — Former Youth in Care as Adoption Recruiters for Youth at Risk of Aging Out

Operation Forever Family uses a three-pronged recruitment approach, including employing young people who had been in care (called “Been There, Done That’s”) as lead adoption recruiters along with supporting families and providing specialized trauma support. The program helped almost all of the youth in the original study group to step down from residential treatment into adoptive or foster families. Come learn how these teams implemented strength-based recruitment planning and how you can replicate the program in your community.
Sara Blomeling DeRoo, Kimberly Offutt, Amber Clingman, & Jean-Claude Lambert, Operation Forever Family, Michigan

2L — Creating Permanency After a Disrupted Adoption

Disruption breeds disruption. Children who have been displaced need to be placed with well-prepared, well-supported adults who can understand how trauma—including the trauma of a disruption—affects a child’s sense of well-being. Parents likely also need help managing challenging behaviors and breaking the cycle of loss. Come learn strategies to manage the many emotions (including yours) involved as you help parents create a family with a child who has learned not to trust.
Janice Goldwater, LCSW-C & Pamela Hoehler, LCSW-C, Adoptions Together, Maryland

Workshop Period 3

July 20, 2017
3:45 – 5:00 pm


3B — Theraplay® Parenting for Adoptive Parents

Theraplay®, modeled on the early interactions between parents and their children, has been used extensively to assist parents in forming an attachment with their adopted child. The four dimensions of Theraplay® have great therapeutic value and far reaching applicability to everyday parenting. This workshop will put trauma principles and attachment theory into practical application by teaching parents the basics of the Theraplay model.
Karen Doyle Buckwalter, MSW, LCSW, Chaddock, South Carolina

3C — Sensing Your Child’s Attachment Needs

Sensory processing is how we experience the world and take in information through our internal and external senses. Adverse experiences in early childhood can make taking in information through our bodies more difficult. Attendees will learn to view sensory processing deficits and preferences through an attachment and trauma-based lens. Presenters will provide hands-on experiential attachment-based interventions to address sensory needs.
Meghan Nagle & Kelly Ryan-Schmidt, Three Rivers Adoption Council, Pennsylvania

3D — Understanding EPSDT’s Role in Securing Services for Child and Youth

In this session, participants will receive a broad overview of the mandatory Medicaid service of Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT). The presentation will include an overview of Medicaid State Plans, optional and mandatory services, and a basic understanding of EPSDT. The presenter will explain how parents of Medicaid-eligible children can use EPSDT to access and pay for covered services and how they can appeal a denial of services through the fair hearing process.
Sharon McCartney, JD, Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance, District of Columbia

3E — Using the 3-5-7 Model(TM) in Resource Parenting

Resource parents are integral in supporting youth in grieving losses and rebuilding relationships. Come learn how one county is implementing the 3-5-7 Model as a foundation that empowers families to promote child well-being, placement stability, and readiness for permanency. The presenters will discuss how tools such as the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths and Family Advocacy and Support Tool and evidenced-based therapeutic components are used to guide healing through a lens of trauma, grief, and loss.
Darla L. Henry, PhD, MSW & Stephanie Wolfe, Darla L. Henry and Associates, Pennsylvania • Kirsten Johnson, Hempfield Behavioral Health, Pennsylvania

3F — Segregating Students with Disabilities: Georgia’s Network for Educational and Therapeutic Supports

Join this straightforward panel discussion about the current Georgia lawsuit alleging students with behavioral-related disabilities are being discriminated against in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The workshop will address the legal issues, the practical impacts, and how trauma-informed care may be affected by the outcome.
Craig Goodmark, Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Georgia • Leslie Lipson, Georgia Advocacy Office • Julie Beem, MBA, Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc., Maryland

3H — The Impact of Attachment and Identity in Interracial Adoption

This presentation will focus on the many clinical implications of interracial adoption with emphasis on attachment and identity. The presenter will recommend how both parents and clinicians can best support interracial and international adoptees as they navigate the racial, cultural, and ethnic diversities that directly or indirectly impact development and attachment; will explore autobiographical and clinical examples; and will identify the conscious and unconscious processes that often arise in interracial adoption.
Elizabeth Studwell, PsyD, Spence-Chapin Services, New York

3I — The Wild, Wild Web: Internet’s Impact on Adoption

The internet, including social media, is greatly changing adoption. It creates challenges and opportunities for child-placement, counseling, outreach, and other professional practices (including post-placement services); facilitates search and reunion to an extent never before imagined; complicates the ability of courts, agencies, and parents to determine the nature of contact between minor children and families of origin. In short, the rules are being rewritten. Now what do we do?
Adam Pertman, National Center on Adoption & Permanency, Massachusetts

3J — CORE Characteristics and Competencies for Parents of Youth with Challenges

Come hear what the Critical Ongoing Resource family Education (CORE) partnership has learned about developing a state-of-the-art training program to better equip resource parents to meet the needs of older youth who have moderate to serious emotional and behavior health challenges. The project will share data obtained from families, youth, and other stakeholders about the critical characteristics and competencies of successful resource families and describe this new training resource that will be available in 2019.
Kris Henneman, Spaulding for Children, Michigan • Kim Stevens, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Vermont

3K — Digital Storytelling for Be[longing]: Youth Messages About Permanency and Growing Up in Care

We are all storytellers. Digital storytellers make short films using accessible technology to tell stories that resonate. This workshop will discuss digital stories that youth have created to illustrate messages about their need to belong, the importance of permanency, and what it’s like to grow up in foster care. Learn how to facilitate a digital storytelling workshop and how to use personal stories to explore identity and social inclusion, and as advocacy and knowledge-sharing tools.
Tabitha McDonald, Laura Eggertson & Alisha Bowie, Adoption Council of Canada, Ontario

3L — There Is a Superhero in All of Us—Discover the Hero in You!

In this interactive session, participants will learn ten characteristics of superheroes that can help support and build resilience in children who have been traumatized. The presenter will discuss key protective factors that every person will need to know to thrive as an adoption advocate and an all-around caretaker. This workshop will help participants see that there is a superhero in all of us as we support and protect children who have been maltreated.
Debra Ross, MSW, Georgia State University, School of Professional Excellence

Workshop Period 4

July 21, 2017
10:30 am – 12:00 pm

4A — Providing Post-Permanency Services Before a Crisis

Interventions for adoptive/guardianship families sometimes come too late to prevent placement discontinuity. The National Quality Improvement Center for Adoption/Guard-ianship Support and Preservation (QIC-AG) developed a framework for post-permanency support services, including some that target key populations for early intervention. This session will explore efforts that proactively engage pre-teens and their families—a group at higher risk for discontinuity—and will discuss support interventions that focus on preparing families for the teenage years.
Stephanie Wolfe, National Quality Improvement Center for Adoption/Guardianship Support and Preservation, Pennsylvania • Dondieneita Fleary-Simmons, National Quality Improvement Center for Adoption/Guardianship Support and Preservation, Wisconsin

4B — Grief and Loss in the Adoption Triad

This presentation will address the three major types of grief and loss: uncomplicated, complicated, and ambiguous. The speaker will explore how each affects the adoption triad in different ways and can lead to significant stress for those who are experiencing them. Participants will also learn about treatment techniques that help older children adjust in their adoptive families.
Mark LaCava, Spence-Chapin Services, New York

4C — Parenting from the Trenches

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, trainer/consultant, Ohio

4D — Partnering Parent Groups to Create Statewide Post-Placement Support

Two successful parent-led nonprofit organizations will share insight and information on how to set aside egos and build collaboration from the ground up. The speakers will discuss how they worked together to create, sustain, and fund their own organizations in order to expand services and supports that benefit children and families across the state.
Lori Ross, FosterAdopt Connect, Missouri • DeAnna Alonso, Central Missouri Foster Care & Adoption Association

4E — Sexual Acting Out: What to Look for and When to Get Help

Few things alarm a parent more than finding out that their child is acting out sexually. Even suspecting that something is happening sexually can be devastating. This presentation will briefly describe how a child’s trauma can produce inappropriate sexual behavior and then will describe how to spot signs of sexual trauma and hidden acting out. The speaker will also outline specific concepts informing treatment of these issues.
Ken Huey, PhD, Kokua Recovery, Missouri

4F — Prudent Parenting Standards

This session addresses bringing normalcy to children in foster care. The presenter will explore how a recent law sought to increase children’s access to normal, age-appropriate experiences and discuss ways foster parents can help their state and local foster care group ensure the law is implemented as intended.
June Bond, Adoption Advocacy, South Carolina

4G — Connection Protection: Embracing Birth Family and Sibling Connections After Adoption
In recent years, many states have passed laws to mandate post-adoption contact through post-adoption contact agreements. To make these work, we must first address our values around birth family and sibling connections and ask ourselves: “How do child welfare professionals help adoptive families embrace and understand the value of ongoing birth family and sibling contact?” This workshop will help adoptive families and child welfare professionals discuss ways connections can be supported and fostered to have the most positive impact.
Deborah Burrus & Karla Wells, Georgia Division of Family and Children Services

4H — Tangled: Hair, Race, and Identity
For traumatized children, a sense of normalcy in their new placement can be comforting in the midst of chaos. One way that caregivers can promote healing and build a strong racial identity is through hair care. Participants in this session will gain confidence in taking care of their African American child’s hair. A hands-on demonstration will provide participants a chance to see the importance of appropriate hair care for African American children in foster care.
Naijean Bernard-Onwere, PhD & Easter Spates, LPC, Cenpatico, Texas

4I — We Can’t Be Too Careful! Revamping Home Studies and Post-Placement Assessments
Typically home studies and post-placement assessments are the subjective self-reports of adult applicants rather than an assessment of family dynamics. This workshop will explore assessment approaches that use a framework that bridges systemic and behavioral perspectives. The presenter will argue for multilevel/multisystem assessment procedures that fit the family and are based more on how people behave than what they say.
Wayne Duehn, PhD, professor emeritus, University of Texas at Arlington

4J — Adoption Readiness = Hope
At Family Focus, we give children a “future worker,” allowing for a relationship to develop with someone whose sole purpose is to stick by the child until their future is settled. Together, they work on skills needed for the child to live in a family. We also give prospective families forty hours of adoption readiness training and a family transition worker, providing the support they must have throughout the adoption process. Come hear the encouraging results of our program.
Jack Brennan, Joanne Ferrante, & Richard Buley-Neumar, Family Focus Adoption Services, New York

4K — Youth Voices Matter: What Our Experiences Have Taught Us
Parenting can be an absolute roller coaster— filled with joys, heartaches, successes, and challenges—and understanding children can feel impossible at times. In adoption and foster care, it can be even more difficult to understand the struggles children may face. In this session designed for both parents and workers, a panel of young adults who have experienced foster care or adoption will discuss some of the core issues including the fears that children may have, challenges in teen years, and ways to support children in adoption and foster care.
Kayla VanDyke & Christina Romo, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota • young adult panel

4L — The Trauma-Informed Classroom
This workshop will outline the principles of a trauma-sensitive paradigm (Emotional Regulatory Healing or ERH) and explore how to incorporate more regulation for everyone in a classroom setting. After a review of the internal stress response system, the presenter will discuss what interventions have been found successful for all students and educators, and will share tips that can be offered as additional support for the education system.
Denise C. Rice, LCSW, LAC, HOPEful Healing Training and Consultation, Colorado

Workshop Period 5

July 21, 2017
1:30 – 3:00 pm

5A — Parenting Through the ACEs: Improving Family Dynamics for Children of Trauma
Children who have experienced trauma require help to reshape their brains and behaviors. They need caregivers to teach
them how to connect with others. This workshop will offer practical activities and methods for mentoring the child’s brain to help them on their path toward resilience. Participants will gain knowledge on brain development, practical tools for building safe, trusting relationships, and methods for teaching brains new skills such as self-regulation and social competence.
Laura Ash-Brackley, LCSW & Lauren Weidner, MSW, Children’s Home Society of Virginia

5B — Understanding and Healing Trauma: An Introduction to TBRI®
This workshop will introduce participants to Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®), an evidence-based parenting and intervention model rooted in neuropsychological research, tempered by humanitarian principles. TBRI® is designed for children who have experienced relationship-based traumas such as institutionalization, multiple placements, and maltreatment. Participants will learn how trauma affects brain development, brain chemistry, behavior, and attachment, and discuss evidence-based parenting techniques and tools to address behaviors, support attachment, and help children heal.
Jill Crewes, MSW & Amanda Purvis, BSW, The Adoption Exchange, Colorado

5C — Becoming a Regulated Parent: Creating Sanctuary Amid the Chaos
As parents of children with trauma histories, we give and give. But how can we truly be the conduit to healing for our children if we’re always running on empty? You are the key to your child’s healing. Healing children who have been hurt in relationships requires a regulated, responsive, and intentional parent. This session will focus on you, the caregiver, the healer, and will enhance your journey to becoming a regulated parent!
Denise C. Rice, LCSW, LAC, HOPEful Healing Training and Consultation, Colorado

5D — Peer-to-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—including through support groups, a peer-to-peer support network, private Facebook groups, and other programs.
Barb Clark, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota • Phyllis Stevens, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Pennsylvania

5E — Adoption, Addiction, and the Trauma Connection
Trauma in some form is at the clinical base of most addictive behaviors. This session will cover how trauma creates fertile soil for addiction and how drug and alcohol addiction are particularly connected to trauma. The presenter will discuss warning signs and when to get help, as well as the most recent research that explains what treatment should look like if it is to heal trauma and reduce recidivism.
Ken Huey, PhD, Kokua Recovery, Missouri

5F — Speak Up and Be Heard! Legislative Advocacy for Children, Youth, and Families
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.
Schylar Baber, Voice for Adoption, District of Columbia • Sue Badeau, child welfare speaker/consultant, Pennsylvania • Kim Stevens, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Vermont

5G — Family Group Decision Making and Child Welfare Outcomes about Kinship Caregivers
Widely used by child welfare systems, family group decision making has been found to help children adjust to kinship placements and encourage kinship caregivers decisions about children’s short and long-term safety plans. The session will include translation research on family group decision making conferences and their impact on children’s placement and adaptation to kinship or relative placements.
Catherine LaBrenz & Rowena Fong, University of Texas at Austin

5H — 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, Donaldson Adoption Institute, New York

5I — Educate, Engage, and Empower: Innovative Strategies for Social Work Advocacy
Designed to help social workers become more involved in socio-political practice, this workshop will: (1) educate professionals on how advocacy is part of ethical social work practice; (2) engage professionals in discussion on how to become better advocates; and (3) empower professionals in their role as advocates. This session will examine emerging issues in social action and discuss strategies for addressing these issues.
Deja Thomas, University of Georgia

5J — Breaking the Ice: Georgia’s Cold Case Project to Improve Foster Children’s Permanency Outcomes
Come learn about Georgia’s Cold Case Project, which uses legal experts, case reviews, and enhanced permanency roundtables (PRTplus) to find families for children who are most likely to age out of care. The PRTplus focuses joint legal and social work expertise on achieving permanency, but also on increasing visitation; creating better relative connections; providing opportunities for children in group homes to be in the community; reassessing use of psychotropic medications; brainstorming ideas to overcome barriers; revisiting legal issues such as reinstatement of parental rights; and strengthening services to meet the needs of children.
Michelle Barclay, JD & Gerald Bruce, JD, Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children, Georgia • Ashley Willcott, JD, CWLS, Office of the Child Advocate, Georgia • Mary Hermann, Diana Johnson, & Karlise Grier, JD, Cold Case Fellows, Georgia • Brooke Silverthorn, JD, National Association of Counsel for Children, Georgia

5K — Unpacking the “No” to Adoption
(A follow up to the general session.) 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

5L — Refresh-Renew-Reframe: Supporting Training, and Empowering Parents of Children Impacted by Trauma
Refresh-Renew-Reframe (RRR) is an innovative weekend retreat that combines peer support, parenting education, and self- care activities for parents, led by experienced therapeutic parents and trauma-informed therapists. This workshop will explore the RRR program goals, strategies, and outcomes, and will cover critical elements of trauma-informed parenting education, peer support, and planned self-care.
Julie Beem, MBA, Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc., Maryland • Karen Doyle Buckwalter, MSW, LCSW, Chaddock, South Carolina

Workshop Period 6

July 21, 2017
3:30 – 5:00 pm

6A — The Ethics of Trauma-Informed Care
This session will focus on working with families and children that have experienced trauma, will look at the varied definitions and iterations of trauma-informed care, and investigate how the principles of trauma-informed care fit into the social work code of ethics and guide our practice. We will discuss how we as practitioners can be triggered by our clients challenging behaviors and how to stay in relationship with our clients.
Alisha Wolf & Janice Goldwater, Adoptions Together, Maryland

6B — Four Essential Elements of Affect Synchrony: Healing Communication
Parents, you can build relational bridges with your child through co-regulation. Healthy co-regulatory experiences between parent and child increase attachment and empathy, improve emotional resonance and self-regulation, and reduce behavioral problems. Foster and adoptive parents need help in learning how to co-regulate a dysregulated child. Come to this session to learn how to use the four essential elements of affect synchrony to restructure the parent/child relationship.
Jeff L. Merkert & Faye L. Hall, Connections Resources, Pennsylvania

6C — Whole Brain Parenting
Brain-based science offers insight into nurturing healthier, more connected children. In light of how traumatic experiences alter brain development, this is particularly critical for foster and adoptive parents. Based on The Whole Brain Child by Siegel and Bryson, this session will help parents understand basic brain functions and how trauma derails brain development. Caregivers will also learn attachment techniques and techniques for integrating left and right brain and upstairs and downstairs brain.
Allison Cooke Douglas, Harmony Family Center, Tennessee

6D — Post-Adoption Support: A Success Story from Los Angeles
Research and experience has demonstrated that adoption has lifelong effects on those in the adoption constellation. This training will discuss the need for post-adoption programs and explore program components that can help agencies support families moving toward adoption and after adoption. Services include case management, therapy, support groups, mentoring, training, and an innovative project helping youth tell their adoption story.
Jessica Valdez, MSW, Yadira Renteria, & Jennifer Penner, LCSW, Olive Crest, California

6E — Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
FASD is all too common in adoption, and many parents and professionals need to increase their FASD competency. In this session, the presenter will briefly discuss FASD basics, and then will dig into strategies parents can use to help their children.
Barb Clark, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota

6F — Funding Post-Adoption Services
Post-adoption services funding sources include state general revenue, federal Title IV-B, the adoption/guardianship incentive program, and mandates for states to reinvest Title IV-E savings in post-adoption services. Come hear how states are funding post-adoption services and learn how your state can access, advocate for, and benefit from these funding streams.
Joe Kroll, consultant, Minnesota

6G — Engaging and Serving Kinship Adoptive Families
One-third of children adopted from foster care are adopted by their relatives. Too often, adoption support programs struggle to engage—or best tailor services to—kinship families. This session will explore strategies to reach and engage kinship adopters (and other caregivers) who may be reluctant to seek support or are unaware support is available, and will cover specific dynamics in relative caregiving that support programs should address to ensure the best outcomes for children and families in kinship adoptions.
Lori Ross & Jennifer Townsend, FosterAdopt Connect, Missouri

6H — How to Get Children and Youth Culturally Prepared for Adoption or Permanency
Are you ready to learn innovative ways of preparing children for permanence that ensures they are culturally connected? The presenters will explore some of the ways Lalum’utul’ Smun’eem Child and Family Services supports children in care with connection to cultural planning with our programs. Topics will include family finder, family meetings, support from elders and the community, and hearing from our children and youth.
Kim Grzybowski & Addie Price, Lalum’utul’ Smun’eem Child and Family Services, British Columbia

6I — Recruiting, Developing, and Supporting Foster and Adoptive Families: A Holistic Approach
Child welfare systems often struggle to recruit and retain enough foster and adoptive families for children in care. Actively meeting a family’s needs increases their ability to address each child’s needs while also strengthening their relationship with your child welfare system. We will present strategies to consider a holistic approach to recruiting, developing, and supporting families, including the use of data, community partnerships, customer service approaches, and involving the voices of youth and resource families.
Mary Boo, AdoptUSKids, Minnesota • Jill Marshall May, National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids, Colorado

6J — Assessing and Preparing Families for Effective Matching
This session will cover ways family social workers can assess, prepare, and present families for effective matching. The presenter will guide participants on how to go beyond the surface to discover a family’s unique skills, experiences, and capacities needed to support healing children in care. The presentation will address family dynamics and skills workers seek for healthy matches and will include an honest discussion on dynamics that lead to mismatches and overshadow successful matching.
Evangel Wicks, Georgia Division of Family and Children Services

6K — Q-TIP (Quit Taking It Personal)
This class, presented by foster care alumni, will give workers and parents skills and tools to understand youth’s behaviors and learn not to take these behaviors personally. This interactive workshop will give participants a deeper insight into youth’s struggles and parents’ struggles and will identify how parents can get some of the supports they need.
Richard Lefebvre & Rosie Williams, You Gotta Believe, New York

6L — Helping Adoptive Families Succeed: A Strength-Based Approach
Professionals often focus on negative aspects of adoption—shame, for example, rather than pride, or lost identity, emotional distance, detachment. This presentation suggests a strengths-based approach, enabling children to progress from resistance toward an adaptive means of self-protection. Participants will learn how to frame questions about identity not as rejection of adoptive family but as a quest to ground oneself. Parents will leave with an enhanced ability to deal with children’s strong emotions with empathy and understanding.
Michael Grand, PhD, University of Guelph, Ontario • Adam Pertman, National Center on Adoption & Permanency, Massachusetts

Workshop Period 7

July 22, 2017
9:00 – 10:30 am

7A — Been There, Done That: A Parent and Adoptee Perspective
Twenty-five years ago Claudia Fletcher was a single, carefree college administrator. Five years later she and her husband began their journey to adopt many children. The children are adults, and Claudia can say “been there, done that” to almost anything you mention. Yolie Neely was adopted 25 years ago at age 11. Now both adoption professionals, Yolie and Claudia will interview each other for a real, authentic description of their respective journeys.
Claudia Fletcher, Patrick Henry Family Services, Virginia • Yolie Neely, MSW, All God’s Children, Inc., Georgia

7B — The Perfect Post-Care Marriage—Mental Health and Post-Care Services
This session will explore an effective model that provides social workers with tools to increase the families’ resilience. For the past six years, Catawba County Social Services has operated a unique partnership to sustain adoptive families that incorporates adoption-competent clinicians and post-adoption success coach services. Come learn how you can create a similar program in your community.
Ligia Cushman, MA, & Tiffany Parlier, LPA, Catawba County Department of Social Services, North Carolina

7C — Intentional Parenting: Getting the Results You Want
As parents of children who struggle, it is important we understand the whys. But it is the hows that we have the most control over. Some examples the presenter will cover include how to handle tantrums, how to deal with lying and stealing, and how to help your child with food issues. Come learn tools and techniques that work and an action plan you can put in place immediately.
Stacy Manning, RN, Hope Connections, Minnesota

7D — Changing the Script: Relationship is the Key; A Model Clinical Post-Adoption Support Group
This workshop will review how to use the Changing the Script model to facilitate an effective clinical post-adoption support group. Through this program, adoptive parents develop deeper insight into their therapeutic work with their children, problem-solve together, set goals, and share in mutual support. The model employs parents’ clinical presentations, peer support group sessions, and clinical support from workers to enhance the capacity of adoptive parents to help the whole adoptive family thrive.
Jean Skelton & Jackie Robertson, Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society, Ontario

7H — The Making of a Man: Raising African American Youth in Foster Care
These days, racist acts are far too common, which complicates the already difficult task of parenting African American teens, particularly males. Many child welfare professionals and foster/adoptive parents are responsible for preparing young African American males for the stigma and the social perceptions they are likely to encounter, while preserving their sense of self-worth, dignity, and respect. In this session, participants will identify and discuss strategies for raising emotionally healthy African American youth.
Brandi Hill & Lisa Robertson, Prince George’s County Department of Social Services, Maryland

7J — Leveraging Partnerships to Recruit Families for Children in Care
For 35 years, Adoption Exchange Association members have established successful public/private partnerships. Exchanges have partnered to coordinate Wednesday’s Child programs, Heart Galleries, match parties, post-adoption support centers, multilingual family response systems, and interjurisdictional placements. Workshop participants will learn successful ideas directly from our members about how to deepen existing public/private partnerships or establish new ones with their states or private partners.
Kamilah Bunn, Adoption Exchange Association, Maryland • Bridget Chiaruttini, LICSW, Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange • Robert Hunner, Northwest Resource Associates, Washington

7K — Trauma-Informed, Attachment-Focused Older Child Placement
AdoptionWorks is the older child adoption program of Adoptions Together. Through a trauma- and attachment-informed lens, AdoptionWorks staff train, assess, and match families wishing to adopt older children. In this session, participants will gain knowledge about the program’s clinical support services and will leave with ideas to enhance interactions with older children in the child welfare system.
Pamela Hoehler, LCSW-C & Meredith Andrews, Adoptions Together, Maryland

7L — Talking to Kids about Tough Stuff
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, LCSW & Bryan Hill, LMSW, Fostering Change for Children, New York

Workshop Period 8

July 22, 2017
10:45 am – 12:15 pm

8A — Laughter for the (Mental) Health of It: How to Ease the Stresses and Pains of Parenting and Everyday Life
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 both your home life and life in general, while also making the case this 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

8C — Brain Games!
Sometimes in adoption, hidden issues can alter the way a child interacts with the world. Whether these issues are related to cognition, sensory processing, or self-regulation of attachment, the child may demonstrate behaviors that are difficult to understand. In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to learn about brain functions through interactive brain games designed to encourage understanding, create empathy, and explore strategies related to successful interactions with children.
Danna Ormstrup & Pam Henheffer, Foothills Fetal Alcohol Society, Alberta

8D — Faith Communities as a Source of Healing and Connection
Faith communities can be overlooked and underused as sources of safety, healing, and healthy connections. Sometimes, they can unknowingly do more harm than good for our families. This seminar will provide practical ways faith communities can be more intentional in their support of families facing trauma and attachment challenges. Offering small changes to larger modifications, the presenters will explore how to help your faith community to move toward being a trauma-aware congregation.
Sally Ankerfelt, GIFT Family Services, LLC, Minnesota • Gayle Swift, GIFT Family Services, Florida

8E — The Needs of Spirited Children … and Their Parents
Some children have a temperament that is more spirited and challenging than others, presenting special education needs for adoptive parents. Using a combination of brief videos, slides, experiential activity, and lecture, this presentation will help parents and professionals learn how to identify a spirited child and to implement specific parenting strategies they can use to bring out the positive potential of these high-energy children.
Michael Popkin, Active Parenting Publishers, Georgia

8H — Permanency for LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care
This session will explore some of the challenges that lesbian, gay,bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in foster care face in achieving positive permanency, and will identify accepting and affirming solutions. The speakers will demystify assumptions and stigma associated with LGBTQ communities, share experiences of LGBTQ youth and adults who spent time in foster care, and provide potential solutions for LGBTQ youth to achieve positive permanency.
Bryan Hill, LMSW & Barry Chaffkin, LCSW, Fostering Change for Children, New York

8J — Funding Youth Permanency Services
Learn how specialized youth permanency services are being self-funded, expanded, and enriched by documenting, leveraging, and reinvesting savings achieved by moving youth from foster care to adoption and other forms of legal permanency. Sacramento County’s Destination Family Integrated Youth Permanency Mental Health Program provides a replicable case study of best practice, improved permanency outcomes, public/private and interdepartmental collaboration, and long-term sustainable funding.
Gail Johnson Vaughan, Families NOW, California • Don Nottoli, Sacramento Board of Supervisors, California

8K — When Adolescence and Adoption Collide
What happens when the normal developmental expectations of adolescence meet (collide) with the delayed and unmet needs of adoption and attachment security? How is adolescent identity seeking complicated within a transracial placement? Discover the competing and sometimes conflicting messages adopted adolescents struggle with, what is really going on, and how to support their development.
Deb Felio, MA, LPC, Attachment Center of the Rockies, Colorado

8L — Healing and Empowerment Through Storytelling
From minor incidents we hope children will forget to major traumas we do not want to trigger, we often avoid talking about certain events. But by telling our stories, we are often better able to process our experiences, make more sense of the events in our life, and gain a sense of control. The presenter will share how to help kids of all ages tell their stories, process experiences, and find healing, power, and hope.
Brooke Randolph, LMHC, Indiana

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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.


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