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.

We do not have a 2021 schedule to post yet. Below are the 2020 sessions to give you an idea of the type of workshops that might be offered.


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

8:30 – 9:45 am

It’s All About the Presentation

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, 220 Experience, Georgia; Jamole Callahan, 220 Experience, Ohio; & Adrian McLemore, 220 Experience, Maryland

10:15 – 11:45 am

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

Noon – 12:45 pm     

Brownbag Discussion: Talking to Children About Tough Stuff

Grab your lunch and join this interactive conversation.

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

1:00 – 2:15 pm

Adoption and Other Options for Teens

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. The presenters will discuss key issues in permanency for LGBTQ+ youth as well. Options include reassessing birth parents, relatives, and past connections as well as other recruitment activities.

  • Barry Chaffkin, LCSW, & Bryan Hill, LMSW, Fostering Change for Children, New York

2:45 – 4:00 pm

Keeping Children Connected through Adoption or Guardianship with Kin

The presenters, who have personal and professional experience in kinship care and kinship adoption, will present the advantages of kinship adoption and guardianship and will explore how the two permanency options differ. Presenters will also address issues and challenges faced by kinship caregivers. Participants will learn specific ways they can support kinship connections for children in care.

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

4:30 – 5:45 pm

The Depth and Power of an Adoption Belief System

In this session, the director of an experienced adoption agency will guide participants through the development of an adoption belief system that leads to successful adoptive placement of children who are more difficult to place. You’ll learn about how to create such a belief system at all levels of your agency, as well as how the belief system will shape your services, including preparation of children and families, transition, adoption covenants, support, and more.

  • Jack Brennan, Family Focus Adoption Services, New York


Thursday, August 27, 2020

8:30 – 9:45 am

Top 10 Things We Need to Know about Permanency

Come learn the top 10 things we need to know about permanency, including that behavior is communication and self care is essential. Whether you are a parent, a parent-to-be, or a professional, this workshop will offer concrete strategies for success for all on the permanency journey!

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

10:15 – 11:45 am

Helping Children Heal from Trauma

Dr. Perry will explore the impact of abuse, neglect, and chaos on children’s brain development, and how the recent pandemic make exacerbate issues. He will discuss how caregivers and professionals can understand and address behaviors, help children heal, and create a therapeutic web that surrounds the children.

  • Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD, Senior Fellow, ChildTrauma Academy, Texas

Noon – 12:45 pm  

Brownbag Discussion 1: Stress Reduction

Grab your lunch and join this interactive conversation.

  • Lisa D. Maynard, LMSW, RYT, Center for Adoption Support and Education, New York

Brownbag Discussion 2: Developmental Trauma Action Alliance

Grab your lunch and join this interactive conversation.

  • Kathy Soden, Adoption Council of Ontario & Leticia Gracia, MSW, RSW, George Hull Centre for Children & Families, Ontario

1:00 – 2:15 pm

The Correcting Strategies of Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®)

Children who have experienced relational trauma often need foundational nurturing, sensitive parenting, and physical and emotional security to provide the support necessary to develop self-regulatory behaviors. The TBRI® Correcting Principles help children learn behavioral and social competence so that they can better navigate the social world they live in. The TBRI® Correcting Principles include proactive strategies such as verbal reminders and role play, and responsive strategies that provide guiding steps for managing challenging  behaviors.

  • Daren Jones, LMSW, Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development, Texas

2:45 – 4:00 pm

Joy and Sorrow in the Same Cup: Addressing Grief and Loss in Adoption/Permanency

For members of the adoption/permanency constellation there are lifelong, intergenerational losses that need to be acknowledged and grieved. Trauma, neglect, and multiple attachment disruptions have a significant negative impact on a child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physiological development. This session will cover how to minimize losses for children, how to recognize the impact of grief and loss, and offer tools that empower families to identify triggers and find ways to strengthen the family system through shared grieving rituals.

  • Allison Davis Maxon, LMFT, National Center on Adoption and Permanency, California

4:30 – 5:45 pm

Listening to Those with Lived Experience

In this workshop, four adults who experienced foster care and adoption offer their advice to parents and professionals on key issues in child welfare. Topics covered include helping children and youth develop a strong identity, including racial/cultural identity, honoring sibling connections, working with kinship placements, and supporting permanency for teens.

  • April Dinwoodie, June in April LLC, New York; Tia Van Fleet, Alberta; Jarel Skinner-Melendez, New York ; & Zoe Bourgeois, New Brunswick


Friday, August 28, 2020

8:30 – 9:45 am

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders from a Trauma Lens

Parenting a child who has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) can present many challenges. It is vital for foster and adoptive families and the professionals who support them to understand the reasons behind their child’s learning and behavioral challenges so they can “try differently.” In this session, participants will learn more about FASD and related impairments and behaviors, the intersection of trauma and FASD, and how to employ more successful parenting strategies.

  • Barb Clark, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota

10:15 – 11:45 am

Becoming a Behavioral Detective

There is always a reason for the behavior! This presentation will provide an understanding of the integrated neurobiology of sensory processing and emotional/relational problems that result in “challenging behavior”. Participants will be invited to become behavioral detectives, using clinical reasoning, to look deeper than the surface actions we observe. By seeking to understand why people do the things we do, from a myriad of perspectives, we allow compassion into the equation. This alone changes the brain – but this mindset of clinical curiosity supports treatment strategies at home, at school, and in all levels of relationships.

  • Kim Barthel, BMR, OTR, Relationship Matters, British Columbia

Noon – 12:45 pm

Brownbag Discussion: NACAC Program and Services

Grab your lunch and come learn this interactive discussion about what NACAC is doing and can do for you.

  • NACAC staff

1:00 – 2:15 pm

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, Badeau Family Books and Consulting, Pennsylvania

2:45 – 4:00 pm

Emotional Regulatory Healing

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

4:30 – 5:45 pm

Self Care Isn’t Selfish

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, BraveBrains, Delaware


Saturday, August 29, 2020

8:30 – 9:45 am

Rethinking Challenging Behaviors: Strategies for Parenting Success

In this session, we’ll explore the foundations of Collaborative Problem Solving, an evidence-based approach to challenging behavior that is grounded in relationship and skill building. More than 50 years of evidence has proven that kids who have challenges often lack the skill, not the will, to be successful. Participants will learn practical, concrete strategies to use when facing even the toughest challenges.

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

10:15 – 11:45 am

Promoting and Supporting Racial Identity and Racial Justice for Transracial Adopted Persons and Families

In this session, the presenter will lead participants in reflecting, discussing, and strategizing on topics of transracial identity and racial justice. Parents and professionals will leave with a strengthened ability to understand and respond to the racial identity needs of transracial adoptees and to know why racial justice is important for all transracial adoptive families.

  • JaeRan Kim, PhD, University of Washington Tacoma, School of Social Work and Criminal Justice

Noon – 12:45 pm   

Brownbag Discussion 1: Maintaining a Strong Partnership

Grab your lunch and join this interactive conversation.

  • Lori & Randy Ross, adoptive parents, Missouri

Brownbag Discussion 2: Helping Schools be More Trauma Informed

Grab your lunch and join this interactive conversation.

  • Barb Clark, North American Council on Adoptable Children, Minnesota

1:00 – 2:15 pm

Executive Function: The Missing Diagnosis

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, LMHC, LMFT, adoption psychotherapist, New York

2:45 – 4:00 pm

Understanding Openness: From Grief and Loss to Navigating Tough Cases

Learn to support your children as you establish and maintain safe and healthy contact. Explore scenarios where openness is challenging or doesn’t work out as planned. The facilitators include adoptees and adoptive parents, and will cover their experiences from both perspectives.

  • Angie McMullen & Brandi Kennedy, Adoptive Families Association of British Columbia

4:30 – 5:45 pm

Laughing (Together) in the Face of Challenges: Building Attachment Through Trauma-Informed Parenting

This session looks at adoption through a developmental lens, identifying opportunities to build attachment and sustainable reciprocal relationships into adulthood. Through play, shared pleasurable experiences, and a sense of wonder and joy, parents can more effectively connect with their children and help to heal past hurts. Where consequences and punitive discipline have failed, this approach will have a long-lasting, positive impact on your child, your relationship, and even your own well-being.

  • Kim Stevens, M.Ed., North American Council on Adoptable Children, Vermont
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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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