What We Do


Morning Breakout Session Options:

Barry Chaffkin & Gabrielle Aiosa-Perrin, Fostering Change for Children
Children's Corps - Innovation in Workforce Retention

  • Children's Corps, a program of Fostering Change for Children, is a workforce retention model that a) improves outcomes for children and families, b) increases the retention of frontline child welfare professionals, and c) infuses the child welfare and human service systems with future leaders. Children's Corps utilizes a three-pronged approach to achieve its success: 1) Strategic Recruitment & Selection, 2) Pre-service Training, and 3) Ongoing Support & Professional Development.

Mark Daley, Daley Solutions
Foster Parent Recruitment and Retention 

  • FosterMore is a coalition of not for profit organizations and foundations working to raise awareness of the youth in America’s foster care system. FosterMore shines a light on the amazing potential of kids and families in the foster care system, and empowers all foster kids to reach their dreams through education. FosterMore encourages all of us to play a part in ensuring that foster youth receive the support, nurturing, and guidance they need to succeed in life.

​​​​Ana Dolan, Jenny Muten, Jen Dolan and Hal Grotevant, Rudd Adoption Research Center - UMass Amherst
Creating an Adoption- and Foster Care-Friendly Campus

  • Learn about examples of initiatives at UMass Amherst like the mentoring program, Adopted Student Advisory Panel, Foster Care Advisory Group, Support groups for adoptive parents (staff & faculty), work with Dean of Students office to support students who have experienced foster care, in-person and online undergraduate courses, research opportunities, etc.

Amelia Franck Meyer & Katie Miller, Alia
Evidence for a New Way of Work in Child Welfare

  • Hear the findings from the research brief we commissioned (published summer ’19!) aggregating the current data on outcomes related to foster care. We’ll also highlight the social return on investment report of foster care completed by Ecotone Analytics (which we also commissioned), demonstrating the negative financial return of foster care. Last, we’d like to share the insights and the emerging story of how the UnSystem Innovation Cohort are shifting course in their respective agencies toward primary prevention. Data are currently being transcribed and coded and we’ll join you in Boston with freshly-published case studies in hand offering a lessons-learned and how-to guide for agency leaders. We haven’t achieved all that we set out (yet!), but are eager to share what we DO already know that demonstrates how child welfare can move from punishing and disconnecting to supporting and healing.

Mary Gunn, Gen2Gen/Encore.org
Panelists: Ken Blake, Foster/Adoptive Parent; Kali Geddes, Advocate Supervisor at Boston CASA; and Christina Haines, Dir. Strategic Initiatives at Silver Lining Mentoring
Generation to Generation: Powerful Connections Between Foster Children and Adults Age 50+

  • Gen2Gen is Encore.org's campaign to mobilize 1 million adults 50+ to stand up for — and with — young people today. By bringing the generations together, we’re working to realize the potential of longer lives, the potential of every child, and the power of older and younger generations working side by side for change. Gen2Gen is powered by Encore.org, an innovation hub tapping the talent of people 50+ as a force for good.

Kerry Homstead, Treehouse Staff and community members
Treehouse- Intergenerational Community Living

  • Since 2006, the award winning intergenerational Treehouse Community has been home to over 100 people, ranging in age from newborns to 95. Come learn about this innovative intentional neighboring community model where families adopting children from foster care live next door to kind and generous older adults who support them. Treehouse is creating a new housing option where one generation helps another and everyone thrives.

Jill Jacobs, Family Builders
No Place Like Home-- improving outcomes for LGBTQ and gender expansive youth within the child welfare system

  • Jill Jacobs will present a two-pronged approach for improving outcomes for LGBTQ and gender expansive youth within the child welfare system. The presentation will include an overview of a family engagement intervention model aimed at family preservation and family reunification for LGBTQ and gender expansive youth. The presentation will also include an overview  on becoming a welcoming and affirming organization, including the development and implementation of organizational systems to improve competency and capacity in serving LGBTQ and gender expansive youth.

Shalita O'Neale, Fostering Change Network Foundation
Engaging Alumni Perspectives and Creating a Peer to Peer Network

  • In this session, attendees will explore: A). What Meaningful Alumni Engagement looks like, B). Reasons why Alumni Engagement is not as common as it should be, and C). How to overcome barriers to develop a strong Peer to Peer Network for transitioning foster youth and Alumni

Lynn Price, Camp To Belong
Sibling Connection

  • Siblings, often taken for granted, however most often times our longest relationships in life. Learn why brothers and sisters may be separated when placed in out-of-home care. Understand the lifetime impact. Be motivated to ensure the connection through their childhood journey to secure a fulfilling adult sibling relationship.

Maryellen Santiago, HEROES Youth Leadership Director
HEROES Youth Leadership Project

  • How do we lift up youth wisdom, youth voice and youth perspective as we re-envision foster care in America? At Treehouse, we invest in year-round youth leadership programming that promotes relationship and skill building. Come find out how the HEROES Youth Leadership Project’s experiential learning approach is inspiring youth leadership across the Commonwealth!

Michael Semel, Ph.D., Vice President of Clinical Quality and Outcomes, The Home for Little Wanderers and Felicia Heywood, LICSW, Vice President of Behavioral Health, Home for Little Wanderers
Intensive Permanency Focused Intervention and The Massachusetts Permanency Practice Alliance (MPPA) Model

  • This workshop will describe an innovative cross agency collaboration to help achieve positive permanency outcomes for youth in out of home placement.  The Home for Little Wanderers is a founding member of the MPPA and has worked to implement the MPPA practice model in all of our out of home placement settings.  The three core components of the MPPA intervention model will be reviewed and the Alliance wide evaluation strategy described.  Data from a cohort of Home for Little Wanderers clients will be shared.  The Home’s newly developed community based permanency model will also be discussed.

Karen Zilberstein, Author and Clinical Director at A Home Within and a panel including Darlene Allen, Executive Director of Adoption Rhode Island; Judi Alperin King, Executive Director at the Wily Network; and Colby Swettberg, LCSW | Chief Executive Officer at Silver Lining Mentoring
The Art of Innovation

  • Meeting the needs of youth who have experienced foster care requires new ventures and ways of thinking. Through a panel discussion with change-makers, this workshop delves into the nature of innovation and how programs can employ its principles.

Afternoon Breakout Session Options:

Charity Bell, MPA, Department of Mental Health
Using Compassion for Self and Others to Reframe Challenging Interactions

  • Using humor and warmth, Charity Bell has supported literally 1000s of participants in reshaping their interactions in their professional and personal worlds. Brain science, compassion research, and a dose of reality mix to build an implementable framework that decreases vicarious trauma, increases partnership, and helps us all understand ourselves and one another differently, and more hopefully!

Jill Bloch, NY Director of iFoster
iFoster - Bridging the investment gap in the Child Welfare system

  • Government invests less than 50% of what the average American family spends on raising their child to the age of 17. iFoster is a national non-profit that is bridging this investment gap by ensuring that every child growing up outside of their biological home has the resources, supports and opportunities they need to become successful, independent adults. In this session, iFoster will present on how they provide these resources to their 48,000 members and reach a quarter of all foster youth nationwide.

Nina Bryce at Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme) and Wade Sulzman (Rise Above)
Be Here Now: Coming Home to Ourselves through Mindfulness 

  • Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with kindness and curiosity. In this session, we will learn sitting meditation, mindful movement, focus and attention games, relaxation exercises, and compassion practices that can develop our capacity to be present with whatever is happening in our lives. Through mindfulness, we will explore ways of coming home to ourselves wherever we are, develop tools for managing stress, and cultivate kindness for ourselves and others. This session's focus audience is youth, but all are welcome.

Sheila Graham, Senior Youth Development Manager and April Hooper, New Business Manager at More Than Words
More Than Words

  • More Than Words is a job training and youth development program that empowers nearly 350 youth each year to take charge of their lives by taking charge of our $4M bookselling business. We work with the most vulnerable young adults in Greater Boston: those who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school. At More Than Words they earn a paying job, working approximately 20 hours per week in our businesses learning critical customer service, technology, inventory management, and leadership skills. They also work a second paying “YOU” job, attending workshops and site visits and receiving focused support to ensure they persist in school and map plans for their future work, education and life. Our youth are showing up, giving and receiving feedback, and leading their peers.

Susan Harris O’Connor, LICSW, author, national speaker, transracial adoptee &
Kim Stevens, M.Ed, Program Manager at North American Council for Adoptable Children, national speaker, transracial adoptive parent
Racial Identity at the Intersection of Artist and Advocate

  • This session vividly illustrates how the intersection of two perspectives (artist and advocate) can provide a more powerful understanding of the complexities in the development of racial identities in transracially adopted  children. Emphasis is placed on how professionals can assist adoptive, foster and first parents in advocating and providing the necessary supports to develop a strong, positive identity. There will be a Q & A period for further dialogue on both the subject matter and style of teaching and collaboration.

Colleen Holmes, 18 Degrees - Family Services for Western MA
Co-presenters: Courtney Clark and Johan Serrano, 18 Degrees - Family Services for Western MA
Social Justice in A Minor

  • For too many children, life is no symphony. Discover how 18 Degrees (formerly Berkshire Children and Families) is innovating its intensive classical music program to overcome trauma and isolation in ways that shift the paradigm for children, strengthen families, and build community equity and access in the process. 

Vicky Kelly/Mary LeBeau, Teen Connect
The Connect Parent Group Program

  • ​​​​​​Connect Parent Group is an exciting intervention being implemented in the U.S.A. with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Connect is an attachment-based, trauma-informed skill-building program for caregivers of children ages 8 - 18. It can be used with birth parents to prevent placement, with foster parents to stabilize placements, and with parents and other caregivers at reunification or other transition to permanency. This evidence-based program helps build, strengthen and repair relationships between parents/caregivers and their older children.

Cheryl Yaffe Kiser, Executive Director, The Lewis Institute & Babson Social Innovation Lab
Entrepreneurial Leadership and Social Design

  • The Lewis Institute is the GPS for students, faculty, staff, foundations, and corporate partners seeking social innovation solutions. We employ Babson’s methodology of Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® as an accelerator for change. We create unexpected and fruitful collaborations between those who believe that business is a force for good and that societal dilemmas can lead to powerful market opportunities. This 90 minute interactive session will provide participants with Babson College’s methodology of Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® as a powerful way to lead change and reframe possibilities.

Nicole McLaughlin, Acting Executive Director
Co-presenters: Christina Brackett, Residential Services Clinical Director; Jonathan Flores, Young Adult Permanency Advocate; and Joshua Metcalfe, Residential Program Director 
“What Will it Take”? Permanency Strategies and Solutions for Older Youth in Residential

  • Tried-and-true best practices plus innovative youth-guided, family-driven strategies and tools are presented in this workshop – advancing permanency progress and outcomes for older youth receiving residential intervention at Plummer Youth Promise! A young adult with lived experience in congregate care, executive director, milieu director supervising residential staff and clinical director co-present this workshop, combining their unique perspectives on “what works” and “what it will take” to increase youth and family permanency opportunities.

Shalita O'Neale, Fostering Change Network Foundation
Panelists:  Jacinth Cooke, Serial Entrepreneur; Wanda Jacobs - Foster Youth Advocate and Program Coordinator; Cynthia McGuigan, Financial Associate, Harvard University; and Ed Shoemaker - President, Foster Care Alumni of America, MA Chapter
Intergenerational Panel Discussion of Foster Care Alumni 

  • Shalita O’Neale is the President and CEO of The Fostering Change Network Foundation which unites and empowers alumni of foster care while helping them build capacity in business and child welfare. Shalita will facilitate an intergenerational panel discussion of foster care alumni as they explore what Re-Envisioning Foster Care in America means to them and how they are helping inspire change that enhances the foster care narrative in their communities.

Nikki Quinn and Jenica Fineman, One Simple Wish
Daring to Dream: Why Wishes Matter

  • In this inspiring session, One Simple Wish staff will talk about the incredible power of making simple wishes come true for humans impacted by the trauma of foster care. Since 2008, One Simple Wish has helped make dreams come true for over 65,000 young people all over the country and has built a powerful and collaborative network of over 750 Community Partner agencies in nearly every state. They will share the how and why of making wishes for those impacted by the system as well as tell stories of the impact wishes have had. This session is a must for anyone who ever had a wish or knows someone who could use one! More about One Simple Wish at onesimplewish.org.

Emily Saul, Lead Playmaker Guide with Life is Good Playmakers
​​​​​​An Introduction to Playmaking

  • Through a thoughtful blend of fun, experiential activities and discussions, participants will walk away with a deeper understanding of the power of optimism and how it can help all people – especially children – heal, learn and reach their full potential. In this workshop, Life is Good Playmakers will introduce its core philosophy and approach to building optimal environments where children who have been impacted by trauma can grow to see the good in themselves, others and the world around them.