2019 Conference

Purchase tickets for the conference at Eventbrite or mail a check with the conference registration:  2019 Conference Registration


Sheraton Oceanfront Hotel
3501 Atlantic Ave
Virginia Beach, VA 23451


Download the conference agenda here: 2019 Conference Agenda for Participants

If interested in purchasing a vendor table, download the Vendor Packet and purchase a table on Eventbrite.

Keynote Speaker

Using Music as a Vehicle for Change with Daniel Goldschmidt

Regardless of age, gender, culture, or any other aspect of identity almost everyone has a personal connection with music. The arts have been shown to offer a successful medium for intervention – not just in expressing emotions, but also in movement, speech, bonding, and many other goal areas. This presentation will talk about the science behind music perception, as well as how music can be used to help children and families in many different situations.

Breakout Sessions

Monday: Breakout Session #1

Music Based Interventions with Daniel Goldschmidt

Dive deeper into the use of music with specific interventions with children and families in foster care and adoption. This breakout session will be a more interactive and small group-based experience as a follow up to the keynote address. Come away with techniques to use in home visits and sessions!

Mobility Mapping with Jessie Dodson

This workshop will teach participants how to complete mobility mapping with youth with the goal of expanding their support network or potentially identifying permanency options. Mobility Mapping is a tool used for family finding.   A Mobility Map is a child’s memory of his or her life put to paper. The mobility mapping process allows the individual to rediscover the important people and places from his or her past.  Using the semi-structured questions, workers create a comfortable environment where the child is engaged as the expert of their history, and through drawing are able to express themselves freely. Maps reveal a child’s history, significant relationships, as well as distinctive community features, structures etc.  Even when the information revealed does not lead to a placement option or even a natural support, it can provide children with knowledge about where they came from and important emotional connections with their past. Such information contributes to their identity development. Mobility maps can be used by experienced and new practitioners who deal with children involved in the child welfare system. Concrete examples and simple step-by-step instructions will be provided in this workshop.

So I have a kid on my caseload who has problematic sexual behavior. Now What?! by Kellie Evans

This workshop will explore working with children and adolescents who have problematic sexual behavior from the perspective of a TFC/Adoption case worker. Participants will learn about this special population, become familiar practice guidelines to include sibling incest reunification and explore treatment planning and case management strategies.

Monday: Breakout Session #2

Introduction to Collaborative Problem Solving with Carmen Dailey

In this foundational course, participants will be introduced to Collaborative Problem Solving (“CPS”), a trauma-informed approach to problem solving, skill building and relationship building with kids. This intro training focuses on Collaborative Problem Solving’s mind-shift away from conventional wisdom, to a skill, not will lens as a way to understand the problems youth encounter.  Delivered in an interactive and engaging format, the training will offer hope and tools to solve even the hardest problems kids face.

Adoption Committee Meeting

Foster Care Committee Meeting

Tuesday: Breakout Session #1

Unpacking the Baggage: Protecting the Family, Child and Agency by Diane Underwood

Parenting children who were not born into the family often means that the child has experienced trauma prior to joining the family. Traumatized children often bring challenging behaviors to healthy families. To ensure the family remains healthy and the child is not re-traumatized, the home study should explore 9 areas of family dynamics – assessing issues, behaviors, and events which could impact a person’s ability to parent under stress.

“The Talk”: How to Speak with Children about Race and Adoption with Ebony Mack

Race and adoption are challenging subjects to attempt to discuss on their own. When combined they can make matters feel overwhelming and daunting. This session aims to give participants tools to address these big conversations. Participants will learn some “do’s and don’t’s” of speaking with children about race regarding recruitment, adoption placement, and having ongoing conversations about the complexities of these subjects. We will discuss trans-racial adoptions, bi-/multi-racial children, and participants will be given tools they can use to help children and themselves understand how race and adoption affect each other. The session will address how these factors effect children in the foster care system and children adopted from birth.

Why are ADHD, Autism/Aspergers, OCD & ODD Spiking? Causes & Solutions by Tom Shenk

Understanding the root causes of focus, academic, behavioral, emotional, and social challenges like ADHD, learning disabilities, ODD, dyslexia, autism/Asperger’s, OCD, and processing disorders.  Why the dramatic rise?  What can be done?  Practical, Brain-Friendly tips for working with challenging students at school & home.  Creating Brain-Friendly homes to build healthy brains in your kids. The importance of sensory-motor development to optimal brain function.  The reason tutoring, counseling, behavior modification, social skills classes, & medications often aren’t enough.  How Brain Balance rewires the brain so focus, academic, behavioral, emotional, and social challenges like ADHD, learning disabilities, ODD, dyslexia, autism/Asperger’s, OCD, and processing disorders dramatically improve.

Tuesday: Breakout Session #2

Vicarious Trauma Exposure, Secondary Trauma and Compassion Fatigue in Foster and Adoptive Parents by Bronwyn Robertson

Children and youth in foster care and/or who are transitioning into adoption are four times more likely to have trauma-related disorders than other children. Foster and adoptive parents are also at increased risk of developing trauma-related conditions and symptoms due to vicarious exposure to trauma. Studies show that Secondary Trauma and Compassion Fatigue, both associated with vicarious trauma exposure, are prevalent among foster and adoptive parents. This presentation will explore the impact that vicarious trauma exposure can have on foster and adoptive parents, unique risks factors for foster/adoptive parents in developing secondary trauma and compassion fatigue, and ways professionals can support parents who may be at risk.

An Appreciative Approach to Leadership with Wade Puryear

Using Inquiry & Inspiration to Develop Appreciative Leadership Skills: Appreciative Leadership is a model of leadership developed by Diana Whitney and others that focuses on the creative potential and positive power held within individuals, teams, and organizations.  It was born out of David Cooperrider’s Appreciative Inquiry model and seeks to find the root causes of successes rather than the root causes of problems.  Appreciative Leadership promotes five strategies to bring out the best in others.  This presentation will focus on two of those strategies, Inquiry and Inspiration, as well as the overall philosophies of Appreciative Leadership.  Participants will have the opportunity to practice these strategies and reflect upon their own personal experiences with positive leaders and successful adventures in the workplace.

Youth Voice with Melissa Lee and Aaran Kelley

Project LIFE and VDSS are partnering together to offer an interactive workshop focused on youth engagement. Participants will learn the importance of youth voice, how to engage youth in the transition planning process, and how to overcome some of the challenges one might experience when implementing youth engagement. A youth in foster care will be present to co-facilitate the workshop and share his/her experiences related to transition planning and the importance of empowering youth to use their voice.

Understanding Brain Development: The Brain Architecture Game with Lauren Weidner and Sara Buckheit

Our brains are not created by themselves, brain architecture is influenced by experiences, genes and our environment. This workshop is going to dive deeper into seeing how early life experiences can affect brain development. We will discuss different types of stress and how caregiver support can increase resilience after negative life experiences. Participants will get a hands on experience by playing the Brain Architecture Game.