Over the course of two days from March 7-8, Texas CASA brought together more than 150 CASA and CPS representatives, as well as child welfare partners, to take a deeper look at the Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) initiative.
The Inaugural CFE Symposium: Our Community was open to counties and programs currently participating in CFE. The symposium featured presentations from Family Finding Creator Kevin Campbell and Dr. Gina Samuels, Associate Professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. Attendees also had several opportunities to network with other regions on challenges, successes and the future of CFE as it continues to roll out across the state.
Day 1 kicked off with a keynote address by Campbell that explored what it means to be a change agent and how the work of CFE is creating generational changes for families.
“We’re not changing a system. We’re changing people. Human beings. You’re changing the lives of volunteers, of staff, as leaders,” said Campbell.
Campbell went on to challenge attendees’ perspective and remind them that “The kids you say you love… their parents were those kids. As change agents, the big change is growth and healing around the adults.”
Campbell’s address was followed by a panel discussion, Voices from the Field, featuring CASA and CPS representatives sharing about CFE implementation, successes and challenges. The rest of the afternoon was focused on table discussions on challenges and ways to overcome them.
Dr. Samuels opened day 2 with a keynote address that introduced the concept of ambiguous loss and homelessness for children and youth in care.
“So what does ambiguous loss of home look like for children? It feels lonely, distancing and isolating. It can be confusing and frightening. It can feel shaming and marginalizing. There’s no real closure or process for healing.” – Dr. Gina Samuels
“So what does ambiguous loss of home look like for children?” said Dr. Samuels. “It feels lonely, distancing and isolating. It can be confusing and frightening. It can feel shaming and marginalizing. There’s no real closure or process for healing.”
Campbell later joined Dr. Samuels for an in-depth discussion on engaging older youth and their networks.
Overall, the CFE Symposium: Our Community was a transformative, motivational, momentum building learning event.
“This was an amazing symposium! I was surprised how much was covered including deep dives into specific topics. The speakers were engaging and the information was well presented,” said one attendee.
Thank you to everyone who joined us and helped make the inaugural CFE Symposium a success! Check out more highlights from the event below.