Hello everyone! I was lucky to attend the 2023 Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) National Conference in Washington, D.C. This year's conference theme was Stronger Together: Uniting to Advance Change. Presenters highlighted strategies that bring together child welfare advocates, education liaisons, and families to support children. Topics shared focused on child well-being, housing, education, strengthening families, and insights from those with lived experience in the child welfare system.
Below, I've included resources from four sessions discussing ways we can support foster care students. For information and resources for all sessions at the conference, please look through CWLA Conference 2023 Resources.
Foster Care Done Differently: Shifting from Support to Supervision within an Indigenous Framework
This presentation will expound on the program development and implementation of a new and unique trauma-informed wraparound Therapeutic Foster Care program in Alberta, Canada, for youth aged 13-17. The program's foundation is an Indigenous practice framework developed with Elders in ceremony. Indigenous stages of child development (the Turtle Lodge teachings) create the basis for caregivers' understanding of the youth in their care. Through innovative recruitment, treating caregivers as practitioners (the primary change agent), and providing them with robust onboarding, training, and clinical supervision, we can dramatically change the experiences of youth living in foster care and their families.
Presenters: Natalie Crawford Cox, The Family Centre of Northern Alberta, Edmonton, AB; Meredith Greig, The Family Centre of Northern Alberta, Edmonton, AB
Collaborating to Support Early Childhood Education Participation for Children in Foster Care
Early childhood education (ECE) participation significantly benefits children and families. Unfortunately, ECE has low participation rates for children in foster care despite federal efforts to prioritize enrollment. This workshop will present key learnings from the University of Minnesota research, centering the voices and experiences of families (foster and biological), child welfare workers, ECE providers, and state agency staff. This workshop will teach attendees about potential barriers and facilitators to ECE participation for children in foster care and the benefits and challenges of cross-system collaboration, using Minnesota as a case study. Attendees will be encouraged to apply workshop learnings to their work and policy environments.
Presenters: Kristine Piescher & Traci LaLiberte & Amy Dorman, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
School-Based Mental Health: The Why, The How, and The Best Practices
This presentation will present data surrounding the importance of making school-based mental health services more readily available to academic communities. We will explore how organizations can secure funding from various entities, create a diversified partnership landscape, utilize best practices for service delivery, and implement trauma-informed training into the school-based mental health model. We will seek to understand what school-based mental health can and should look like, explicitly addressing the effects of post-pandemic on children. Attendees can expect to learn about best practices around service delivery in non-traditional settings and how implementing training and support opportunities for school staff can help create more trauma-informed school environments.
Presenter: Brittney Walters, CHRIS 180, Atlanta, GA
Promising Practices to Strengthen Engagement with Youth with Lived Experience
Respecting youth with lived experience and regarding them as experts is a critical step toward improved child and family outcomes. This workshop will present results from a qualitative study in which 18 youth with lived expertise were asked about the best methods for recruiting, engaging, supporting, and retaining youth in child welfare monitoring efforts, such as the Child and Family Services Reviews. In addition, discussion includes engaging youth so attendees may apply lessons learned in their work.