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Summit on Children Agenda

THURSDAY, MARCH 16
10 - 10:15 a.m. Welcome
10:15 - 11:45 a.m. Plenary Session: Finding a Pathway to Hope for All Our Children - William Bell, Casey Family Programs
11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Lunch
12:45 - 1:45 p.m. Breakout Sessions (Details below)
1:45 - 2 p.m. Break
2 - 3 p.m. Team Planning Time
3:15 - 4:30 p.m. Finding Allies: The Importance of Co-Conspirators in Advancing Child Welfare, Jessica Chandler

10:15 - 11:45 a.m. Plenary Session

Finding a Pathway to Hope for All Our Children

William Bell, Ph.D., Casey Family Programs

Courts play an integral role in the child welfare system. Child welfare agencies must seek court approval for some of the most impactful and significant decisions that they make, such as separating children from their parents. Together, courts and child welfare agencies are pivotal in supporting families and building stronger communities. As we move forward, it is imperative that we examine the origins and evolution of today’s child welfare system, how that history has driven the outcomes we see, and why it is imperative for us to act now to create a new story for history.

We must begin creating a history of a response system that considers the entire child worldview – the child, the child’s family, and the community they live in – not just the child in isolation. If communities are under-resourced and neglected, the families living in those communities most likely are not doing well, or only marginally so, and the children in those families suffer the consequences. Sustainable, systemic solutions for children and families in Ohio, and across the nation, require us to broaden our perspective, change our way of thinking, and shift the paradigm from child welfare to child, family, and community well-being. That, in part, means relying less on child removal as a solution to keeping children safe, and relying more on family support and family strengthening as a means to achieve safe and stable families. It means building stronger, healthier communities in order to secure the well-being of families and children. We must ask ourselves, how can Ohio’s courts, in its instrumental role, be part of this transformation, from a child welfare to a child well-being system? What process and practice improvements and action steps can courts make to help this paradigm shift become the daily reality for children and families?

12:45 - 1:45 Breakout Sessions

Nothing About Us Without Us

Jessica Chandler, Los Angeles Department of Children & Family Services

Former foster youth and advocate Jessica Chandler shares her lived experience as a change maker in California’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems. She will dialogue with the audience about common concerns stakeholders have about giving persons with lived experiences a seat at the table.

Keeping Families Together: How Advocates Can Support Relative Caregivers

Susan Abrams, Children’s Law Center of California

Tyler Press Sutherland, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

Understanding that racial disparity and disproportionality are prevalent in today’s child welfare system, this workshop will focus on the importance of relative placement and the need to address barriers that cause racial disparity in relative placements and negatively affect child welfare outcomes for children of color. The discussion will focus on the benefits of relative placement to a child’s education, mental health and permanency, and the roadblocks that many relatives face in getting children placed in their care – especially those with a criminal history. The audience will hear from an individual with lived experience about the barriers they faced. Finally, the session will explore legislation, policy and other strategies used by advocates representing kinship caregivers to provide holistic services to families involved in child welfare cases to improve outcomes and ensure that more children of color are successfully placed with relative caregivers.

Effectively Collaborating with Local Partners

Jeremy Harvey, Capacity Building Center for States

Heather Kestian, American Bar Association

Local panelists

Teamwork makes the dream work. There is no “I” in team. There are a lot of motivational quotes that promote collaboration, cooperation, and teamwork. This session is designed to get first-hand accounts for “how” to build collaborative partnerships across child and family serving systems. Come prepared to learn from two county teams who will share their insights and lessons learned on the journey to building and sustaining successful collaboration and partnerships. The discussion will be co-facilitated by liaisons from the national capacity building collaborative—Center for States and Center for Courts. The co-facilitators and panel will share materials on how to build capacity to create or grow collaborations and partnerships.

Engaging & Building Family Networks: The Key to True Permanency

Kelly Beck, National Institute for Permanent Family Connectedness

Bob Friend, National Institute for Permanent Family Connectedness

This workshop begins with presentation and discussion regarding a more complete understanding about permanency beyond permanency findings and orders. Presenters will share engagement strategies that can be utilized by all professionals to seize upon opportunities to maintain and build a safe, lifetime family support network for each child and family. Presenters will include suggestions for courts to provide oversight and insist/ensure that every child/youth has a network, and that those networks are involved in all planning and decision making about their kin, leading to a sense of belonging and true permanency for children and youth.

Using Data to Tackle Disproportionate Treatment

Lashaun Carter, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina

This workshop is designed to take a data-driven approach at exploring the factors that lead to growing disproportionality among Ohio's most vulnerable children. Discussion will cultivate the collective and individual capacity of all participants to understand the role of the courts, policymakers, advocates, and all other stakeholders in advocating for children in touch with the child welfare system. Additionally, there will be opportunities for dialog between participants that support the development of the practical skills to respond to the complex issues around inequities and the role bias and difference plays in working with youth in the public sector.

Foster Care Placement Stability

Carrie Mason, Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Across a child’s life, placement stability plays a foundational role in the path to safety and resilience. For children and youth in foster care, the importance of stability is not well understood, at a cost to vulnerable young people. In this session, the presenter will review research identifying predictors of instability in care, discuss outcomes, and highlight promising practices. Placement instability rates across the US and in Ohio will be discussed. The session will also consider the effect of race, age, and disability on placement stability. Attendees will hear from a foster care alumnus describing the effect of instability on their lives to contextualize the issue.

FRIDAY, MARCH 17
9 - 10:15 a.m. Childhood Flies By. Time is of the essence, Chief Justice Darlene Byrne, Third Court of Appeals of Texas
10:15 - 10:30 Break
10:30 - 11:30 a.m. Breakout Sessions (Details below)
11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Lunch and Team Planning Time
1 - 2 p.m. Breakout Sessions (Details below)
2 - 2:15 p.m. Break
2:15 - 3 p.m. Closing Session: I Want a Family, But I Want It My Way, Adrian McLemore

10:30 - 11:30 a.m. Breakout Sessions

Creating a Culturally Responsive Dependency Court

Chief Justice Darlene Byrne, Third Court of Appeals, Texas

During this session, you will learn concrete steps that your court and collaborative stakeholders can take together and independently to develop a more culturally competent and responsive court and system of care for the children and families you serve.

Defining High-Quality Legal Representation

Allison Green

What if children and youth had a say in what their legal representation should look like? This session will introduce attendees to the concept of co-design partnership and the National Association of Counsel for Children’s (NACC) Recommendations for Legal Representation of Children and Youth. Two years in the making, the 2021 Recommendations represent a milestone moment in the future of children’s legal representation. This presentation will explain the user-centered design protocol that guided this work, share the updated Recommendations which establish 10 primary duties for children’s attorneys, and explain the lived experience perspectives that shaped each one. Special focus will be given to areas that pose the greatest potential areas of challenge for the field. Finally, the session will encourage attendees to use the Recommendations and user-centered design methodology as a starting point for revamping practices, training, and supervision in their own communities.

Social Services & Judicial Partnerships to Achieve Change

Prudence Beidler Carr, ABA Center on Children & the Law

Judge Peter B Jones, Sussex County Family Court, Delaware

Vicky Kelly, Connect Parent Group Network

Child welfare is both a social services and legal system. This facilitated discussion will address legal system engagement as a key component of lasting child welfare reform efforts. In particular, the session will focus on the role of judges both as agents of law – with the responsibility of interpreting and applying statutes and rules in individual cases – and as agents of change – with a responsibility to support and facilitate reforms in the larger field. The presenters will highlight partnership examples between judicial and child welfare agency leaders where successful practice change required coordination and commitment of both partners.

Reasonable Efforts and Kin-First Culture: What's the Connection?

Kelly Beck, National Institute for Permanent Family Connectedness

This workshop will provide a historical overview of the legislative intent of the Reasonable Efforts Finding, it’s under-utilization and how Child Welfare & Court Systems can utilize this required, crucial judicial finding coupled with a Kin-first philosophy to prevent unnecessary removals, safely return children/youth to family at the earliest possible opportunity and mitigate unnecessary disruptions of familial connections. Using a streamlined, intentional approach in meeting the Reasonable Efforts and other “family focused” front-end mandates, systems can help children and youth safely retain a sense of belonging, while establishing an expeditious process to permanency and preventing long-term stays in care.  Implementation strategies will be provided for Judges, Lawyers, Social Workers, GALs, CASA and others.

Addressing Economic Hardships Key to Preventing Child Welfare System Involvement

Krista Thomas, University of Chicago

A growing body of evidence supports a rethinking of prevention services to include the use of economic and concrete supports with families. An overview of the science of economic and concrete supports and the associations with reductions in child welfare system involvement will be provided. Redesigning child welfare, and the long-held separation of economic and concrete supports from services in child protective services and foster care, requires new mindsets, partnerships, and policies. This is also a consideration as it relates to race equity as families of color experience disproportionate economic hardship and disproportionate involvement with children’s services. Federal and state policy considerations and examples will be presented for exploration.

OhioRISE Update

Marisa Weisel, Ohio Department of Medicaid

Kelly Smith, Ohio Department of Medicaid

The Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) launched a new program, OhioRISE (Resilience through Integrated Systems and Excellence), Ohio’s first-ever highly specialized behavioral health program for children and youth with the most complex behavioral health needs who are served by Medicaid. Since launching on July 1, 2022, OhioRISE has enrolled over 12,000 children and youth into the program.

OhioRISE was created with the goal of developing a child- and family-centric system of care that works to increase accessibility to in-home and community-based services to keep families together. These services include Intensive and Moderate Care Coordination, Intensive Home-Based Treatment (IHBT), Behavioral Health Respite, Primary Flex Funds and Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (MRSS). In 2023, ODM will incorporate Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTFs) into OhioRISE, which is presently a service only provided outside of Ohio.

Attendees will learn about the ongoing implementation work to build the system of care and how local community partners can support children, youth, and families in their communities with OhioRISE.

1 - 2 p.m. Breakout Sessions

Recognizing the Need for a Trauma-Informed Courtroom: What Judges Can Do

Judge Peter B Jones, Sussex County Family Court, Delaware

Vicky Kelly, Connect Parent Group Network

Words have meaning. They may have even more meaning to litigants and children who have experienced trauma. This session is intended to discuss how persons who visit our courtrooms may have been exposed to trauma, and what that means to judges and the other participants in a hearing. Judges have enormous power in deciding how hearings are conducted and how individuals interact with one another in the courtroom. Something as basic as choosing language that is used may impact how participants react to their experience in court, and ultimately on the outcome of a case. The session will offer suggestions as to what might work in various hearings in order to lessen the impact of the court process on all participants, including those who have experienced trauma.

Advocating with Not for Youth

Jordyn Gendel, Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center

Lauren Langan, Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center

This session will discuss the importance of incorporating young adults in their own legal advocacy. Attendees will leave with tools to help them think holistically about a young adult experiencing a legal need and be able to advocate with a young person in order to set them up for success long after their time working with them is over. Together, we will walk through what multidisciplinary legal advocacy looks like with young people who have experienced instability.

Relational Advocacy: Harnessing the Child Welfare System to Relentlessly Pursue Connection

Rick Barinbaum, University of Michigan School of Social Work

This session will focus on the primacy of relationships in child welfare cases, specifically focus on achieving relational permanency through a lens that joins efforts in and outside of the courtroom. The presentation will frame the goals of child advocacy in the context of relationships, routines to foster connection for children and parents, examine helpful practices for family visitation, service planning, and advocacy, and explore specific strategies to build resilience amongst families and practitioners.

Eliminating the Unnecessary Use of Institutions in Foster Care

David Reed, MSW, LCSW, CSYAC, Indiana Department of Child Services

This session will discuss Indiana’s efforts to reduce its usage of non-family-based settings for kids in out-of-home care, and how a focus “upstream” on better serving families and preventing unnecessary removals is having “downstream” effects on residential usage across the state. The state’s implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act, as well as very intentional collaboration and conversation with all child-welfare stakeholders has resulted in the state’s utilization of residential treatment dropping by more than 50% in just five years.

Promoting Educational Resilience Among Youth & Young Adults with Foster Care Experience

Mauriell Amechi, Ph.D., Foster Youth Empowered, LLC

Academic preparation in high school is one of the strongest predictors of college enrollment and choice, but access to high-quality schooling experiences remains elusive for young people experiencing foster care. Although youth in care typically aspire to attain a college education, it is well-documented that they face severe systemic barriers, including absenteeism, disproportionate placement in special education, and school instability driven by unstable placements, to name a few. During this interactive breakout session, participants will: (a) learn about the current educational status of foster youth, (b) discuss common barriers to student success, and (c) explore strategies for promoting educational resilience.

Ohio’s Response to Child Welfare Reform

Karen McGormley, Project Manager, Office of Families & Children, Ohio Department of Job & Family Services

Jeffery Van Deusen, Deputy Director, Office of Families & Children, Ohio Department of Job & Family Services

This session will discuss ways in which the State of Ohio has implemented child welfare reform practices at the state level, highlighting various initiatives and programs aimed at preventing unnecessary entry into the system, provided necessary resources to families, and improving outcomes to permanency.

2:15 - 3 p.m. Closing Session

I Want a Family, But I Want It My Way

Adrian McLemore, FosterStrong

This fast-paced, fun-filled, engaging presentation addresses the critically important work of ensuring ALL youth are engaged in their permanency process! Youth are more likely to participate with a plan they agree with AND more likely to agree with a plan they helped to develop. YOU can make the difference for young people not just by ENGAGING them, but by doing it THEIR way.

Contact Information

Summit on Children
Children & Families Section
Supreme Court of Ohio
65 South Front Street
Columbus, OH 43215-3431

OhioSummitonChildren@sc.ohio.gov

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