What We Do

BREAKOUT SESSIONS for REFCA 2019

Breakout sessions

Charity Bell, MPA
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!

Hal Grotevant & Jen Dolan, 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.

Karen Zilberstein, A Home Within
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.

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.

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.

Amelia Franck Meyer & Katie Miller, Alia Innovations
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.

Amnoni Myers, Foster Care Advocate
Courageous Conversations 

  • REFCA Champion, Amnoni Myers, hosts a series of engaging conversations with young people who have experienced foster care in California. Amnoni, a foster care alumnae and dedicated youth advocate, speaks with youth about what Re-Envisioning Foster Care in America means to them. Together they explore the ways that young people’s lived experience and wisdom can help the nation move forward to better meet the needs of our children living in foster care.

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!

Barry Chaffkin, 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.

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 an intervention model aimed at family preservation and family reunification for LGBTQ and gender expansive youth. The presentation will also include an overview of how to develop and implement organizational systems to improve competency in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Shalita O'Neal, 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

​​​​​​Jill Bloch, NY Executive Director of iFoster
 iFoster - resources, supports and opportunities for transition-age foster youth

  • ​​​​​​iFoster is a national non-profit that works to ensure that every child growing up outside of their biological home has the resources and opportunities they need to become successful, independent adults. iFoster will present on how they do this and support their members by: 1) building the largest national foster community online that preserves privacy but allows the highly fragmented system to come together as a single supportive community, currently over 46,000 members strong reaching a quarter of all foster youth nationwide and 2) by building bridges to the outside world allowing needed resources to flow in, and creating a supportive pathway for transition-age foster youth to successfully join the greater society.

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.

Daniel Heimpel, Fostering Media Connections
Fostering Media Connections

  • Fostering Media Connections (FMC) is a nonprofit news organization that uses a mix of investigative, accountability and solution-oriented journalism to drive reform within the systems that serve vulnerable children, youth and their families. FMC has three main programs: The Chronicle of Social Change, Fostering Families Today and the Youth Voice Program. THE CHRONICLE OF SOCIAL CHANGE is FMC’s flagship daily news site covering child welfare and juvenile justice news nationally. The Chronicle has run nearly 4,000 articles on issues impacting children, youth and families and won numerous awards. FOSTERING FAMILIES TODAY is an award-winning bi-monthly print and online magazine that ensures caregivers are educated about the latest developments in trauma-informed care, and provides them with an opportunity to earn continuing education credits through reading comprehension. YOUTH VOICE PROGRAM began in 2016 as a journalism training program for young people with lived experience in the foster care or juvenile justice systems. 

Mary Gunn, Gen2Gen/Encore.org
Generation to Generation: Powerful Connections between Youth 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.

Mark Daley, FosterMore
Foster parent recruitment/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.

James Lister, Executive Director of Plummer Youth Promise
Co-presenters: Romare Jenkins (RJ), Young Adult Permanency Advocate; Joshua Metcalfe, Dir. of Residential Services; Christina Brackett, Clinical Dir.
“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'Neal, Fostering Change Network Foundation
Intergenerational Panel Discussion of Foster Care Alumni 

  • Shalita O’Neal 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.