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The 2018 Texas CASA Conference will feature nationally and internationally recognized speakers and industry leaders shaping the child welfare system and advocacy for children and youth.

To continue to ensure the best possible conference experience for attendees, we will be asking attendees to select their conference schedule during the online registration process. This means you will register for each session, and the ones you select will be the ones you attend onsite. Registration will be required to enter a session. Be sure to review the sessions below prior to registration opening.

Sessions and presenters will utilize fictional case studies in order for attendees to apply the knowledge and skills they are learning directly to their work as a CASA. Download the case studies.

Thursday, Oct. 18 | 1:00 – 4:30 P.m.


Daniel Keating, Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Pediatrics, University of Michigan School of Education

Download the PowerPoint

Room: Pioneer

Over the past decade or so, we have come to understand the ways in which adversity, stress and trauma early in life can have a major impact throughout one’s life. We know that it makes changes to the brain and even to the ways that genes function. This affects how we react to stress, how we feel, think and interact with others, as well as how healthy we will be and even how long we will live.

At the same time, closely related work has shown the critical pathways to resiliency, the processes through which early adversity and trauma can be overcome, restoring the potential for health and well-being. These pathways to resilience draw on everyday patterns and interactions, for which Ann Masten has coined the term “ordinary magic.” These healing pathways, especially the close connections with others in safe environments, can be difficult to attain for children experiencing significant disruptions, such as out-of-home care. But it is possible! In this session, we will examine the processes of trauma, and its flip side, resilience, to provide a sound framework for supporting the healthy development of children who face these challenges.

room: ARABIAN & Palomino

In this two-part session, attendees will gain new tools and resources to uncover the complete picture of the children they serve.

First in Getting It Right for Kids, learn how to “recast” child and youth behavior in terms of trauma, grief, mourning and development as well as how to help them self-advocate by setting the record straight and telling their own story. This interactive session will provide tips and tools to ensure the child you represent doesn’t get labeled and end up with a “story” that reads like a medical journal or juvenile delinquency record.

Bob Lewis, M.Ed., M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W., Executive Director, Special Adoption Family Services

Next dive into Guiding Family-Centered Services through Parent-Child Relationship Assessments. This session will provide an overview of parent-child relationship assessments and how they can be used to enhance and guide family-centered services. This approach’s premise is that the increased focus on the parent-child relationship will lead to increased services centered on parent-child bonding and relationships and attention to the needs of children in the context of this relationship

Connie Almeida, PhD, LSSP, Director of Behavioral Health Services, Fort Bend County

Download the handouts

Together We Can! Family Engagement that Helps Children & Their Families Heal & Thrive | CEUs: 3
Room: Eagles

Dr. Jill Stoddart, Director of Research, Development and Outcomes for Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region; Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Canada; Diane Randall, Clinical Manager, Psychotherapist and author of Trusting Loving Connections – A Trauma Informed Parenting Intervention; Kevin Campbell, Family Finding Model Author and Youth Permanency Expert

Yes, we do want to improve outcomes for children. Yes, we believe every person and child has infinite worth. This session will build upon foundations of trauma and attachment and focus on the “why” and “how” of family engagement and how CASA has a critical role to play. Research will be shared that supports this healing approach and improved outcomes. Building upon interventions that address complex developmental trauma, Diane and Jill will share their passion and experiences in fostering caregiver-child attachment interactions that lead to success, and Kevin will share information and strategies for holistic family engagement.  Participants will walk away with “What They Can Do Now” tips and practices built upon values and beliefs that vulnerable families and children with supportive engagement and services can heal and thrive.

Download the PowerPoint 

Why Must We “See” Color? Moving Toward a Radicalized Understanding of Children & Their Families | CEUs: 3
Room: Quarter & Appaloosa

Shari Johnson, LMSW, ACSW, The Traveling Diversity Professor

This session will challenge you to examine blind spots, colorblindness, implicit blindness and understandings of ethical and anti-oppression practices especially around marginalized communities. Attendees will develop ways in which they can bring it all together when working with children and families and become more effective in their advocacy as it relates to the racialized lived experiences of children and their families.

Friday, Oct. 19 | 11:00 A.m. – 12:00 P.m.

Room: Pioneer

Jamie Bernstein, Assistant Director, Supreme Court of Texas Children’s Commission; Cheri Leutz, Staff Attorney & CASA Supervisor, Dallas CASA; Diane Sumoski, Associate Clinical Professor, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law

It’s no secret that the odds are stacked against children in foster care in many ways, especially when it comes to educational success. CASA volunteers, like you, can help ensure that your CASA child defeats those odds and receives the right services to meet their individual needs and, ultimately, their educational goals. This session will provide you with the most up-to-date information and tools to help you make a difference in the school setting. From baseline knowledge and current laws to tools and resources available for different education-related challenges, you can expect to take away new ways to effectively advocate for your CASA child. You already have the passion – now you just need the information that will enable you to provide caring support and the right advocacy.

Download the PowerPoint 

room: ARABIAN & Palomino

Charlotte Caples, Chief Equity Officer, Charlotte Caples Consulting, LLC

Did she really say White? Yes, whiteness is a thing. How are our organizations functioning in whiteness that says to communities of color, including potential volunteers, donors, families and even the children we serve, you are not welcome here!

The Power of Networks | CEUs: 1
Room: Quarter & Appaloosa

Kevin Campbell, Family Finding Model Author and Youth Permanency Expert

Together we can ensure that every child and youth served by CASA has a group of caring and positive adults committed to them long-term. Kevin Campbell will share about the power of networks – what they are and what role they can play in promoting safety and avenues to relational and legal permanence.

Understanding Trauma Based Clinical Treatment & Best Practices for Children in Foster Care & Their Families | CEUs: 1
Room: Eagles

Katie Compton, M.A., LPC, RPT, CFLE, IMH-E (II), Licensed Professional Counselor

Learn about different types of therapy and treatment for children in foster care and their families from a licensed clinician in this interactive session. A high-level overview of treatment modalities like Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) and Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) will be provided and best practices for each will be discussed. Attendees will also take away the skills needed to identify the right licensed therapist to meet the needs of the children they serve.

Download the presentation slides

Friday, Oct. 19 | 1:30 – 5:00 P.m.

Room: Eagles

Colleen Horton, MPAff, Policy Program Officer, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, and Megan Mooney, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

Gain a better understanding of trauma-informed approaches and best practices to better support and meet the differing needs of children and youth who are LGBTQ or have an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD). Research shows that LGBTQ youth and children with an IDD are more likely to experience traumas and are over-represented in the foster care system. By taking a tailored trauma-informed care approach to working and advocating for these children, advocates can improve outcomes for these vulnerable groups.

Download Colleen’s PowerPoint 

Download Megan’s PowerPoint 

The New A.I. (Appreciative Inquiry) – What Works & Why | CEUs: 3
Room: Quarter & Appaloosa

Dr. Jill Stoddart, Director of Research, Development and Outcomes for Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region, and Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Canada; Diane Randall, Clinical Manager, Psychotherapist and author of Trusting Loving Connections – A Trauma Informed Parenting Intervention; Kevin Campbell, Family Finding Model Author and Youth Permanency Expert

Appreciative Inquiry is about appreciating the best of ‘what is.’ Facilitators will lead participants through a process of discovery to understand ‘what works,’ building on success, strengths and periods of excellence in family engagement. Together we will use this process of discovery to find solutions to systemic barriers and provide participants with tools to strengthen and enhance their family engagement work.

Download the PowerPoint 

room: ARABIAN & Palomino

Martha Ramos Duffer, Psy.D., Founder, Quantum Possibilities

Neurobiological research has given us insights into the ways humans make sense of the world and ourselves, what happens when we become aware of our privileges, how we—consciously and subconsciously—collude with and foment systemic oppressions, and what we need in order to be open to learning about and committing to creating a world of equity and inclusion. Towards Us & Us is an opportunity for participants to understand how racial power inequities play out and how systems and policies that reflect dominant cultural norms create barriers to inclusion. In this session, we explore the underpinnings of racial tensions, the latest research on the formation and effects of unconscious bias and prejudice, and ways the deficit thinking we learn keeps us from recognizing the deficits we perceive are actually cultural assets and sources of joy.

Well-Being Starts With Me | CEUs: 3
Room: Pioneer

Debi Grebenik, Ph.D., LCSW, Chief Knowledge Officer, Alia

Child and family well-being is THE goal! Right? But you can’t give what you don’t have. This session addresses the culture of scarcity and how we get caught up in thinking we don’t have enough certainty, time, money, safety, etc. When we believe we don’t have enough we begin to feel we aren’t enough. This can put us on the “shame, blame and trauma train.” Learn how to get off the train through an understanding of well-being practices. And gain practical and tangible action steps to apply to your advocacy. Our best work with families is that we walk with them, showing up as ourselves in a safe way that promotes healing and well-being. Be ready to learn, laugh and live your best self!

Download the PowerPoint 

Saturday, Oct. 20 | 9:00 A.m. – 11:30 A.m.

Transforming Traumatic Stress into Posttraumatic Growth

Martha Ramos Duffer, Psy.D., Founder, Quantum Possibilities

Have you heard about Posttraumatic Stress? Most of us have. Those of us in service, health, and caring professions balance a myriad of roles and daunting demands in our work. Research and experience have proven that this breadth and depth of demands in the face of human suffering and tragedy can lead to burn-out, secondary trauma, and other forms of traumatic stress responses, whether we are providing direct services or working in an administrative capacity. But have you heard about Posttraumatic Growth? Most of us haven’t. Fortunately, researchers have identified practices that can contribute to transforming the challenges, demands, and traumatic stress we experience into growth-promoting and life-enriching experiences—posttraumatic growth.

Together, we identify barriers and challenges to implementing self-care practices and learn about new research from the fields of neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics, which reveal how human motivation, choice, and willpower work. We end by using these findings to equip ourselves with proven strategies to build the skills and habits that can help us consistently and successfully make choices that are aligned with our intentions and goals, to create lives that we love.

Presentation & Closing Remarks

Featuring the National Schoolhouse of Theatre Arts and Texas CASA CEO Vicki Spriggs