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2018 Texas CASA Child Welfare Primer

The 2018 Child Welfare Primer – Moving Toward a Child, Youth & Family-Centered System: Opportunities in Court & Service Planning will take place on July 26, 2018, from approximately 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., at the Norris Conference Center in Austin. Programming and discussion will be in depth and collaborative, and focused on child and family engagement in the court and legal process, as well as the service planning process. Follow the button below to register! Registration will close on July 11 or when we reach capacity.


Event Details

Thank you to our sponsor!

AGENDA


(subject to change closer to event):

Check-in with coffee & light breakfast provided
Welcome & Introductions
Featuring remarks by DFPS Commissioner Hank Whitman and Texas CASA CEO Vicki Spriggs.

Panel Presentation: Service Planning & the Single Child’s Plan of Service: What is it & how will it work to improve child & family involvement?

The panel will discuss recent DFPS initiatives to update how service plans are created, with the goal of increasing collaboration between CPS, parents, caregivers, and contracted placements. Following the panel, attendees will have small group guided discussions on the merits of this new model.

Panelists: Verlyn Johnson, State of Texas Parent Representative for Waco, Texas; Randy Spencer, Senior Vice President of Organizational Impact, Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services; Montoya Thomas, Former Foster Youth; Donna Wiebelhaus, Kinship Caregiver

Moderator: Carol Self, Director of Permanency, DFPS

Break
Facilitated Table Discussion & Reporting Out
Lunch & Networking

Panel Presentation: Family & Youth Court Involvement: How can we elevate their voices?

The panel will discuss the importance of family and youth advocacy in court and in the legal process. Following the panel, attendees will have small group guided discussions about how child and family voice can be better incorporated into the process.

Panelists: Mercedes Bristol, Kinship Caregiver; Isaac Delacerda, Foster Youth; Lori K. Duke, J.D., Clinical Professor, Children’s Rights Clinic; Michelle Hansford, Parent Coach Navigator, Santa Maria Hostel; Judge Aurora Martinez Jones, Associate Judge, Travis County

Moderator: Judge Darlene Bryne, 126th Judicial Court, Travis County

Break
Facilitated Table Discussion & Reporting Out
Wrap Up & Next Steps

Panels


Panel 1: Service Planning & the Single Child’s Plan of Service: What is it & how will it work to improve child & family involvement?

The panel will discuss recent DFPS initiatives to update how service plans are created, with the goal of increasing collaboration between CPS, parents, caregivers, and contracted placements. Following the panel, attendees will have small group guided discussions on the merits of this new model.

Panelists:

  • Verlyn Johnson, State of Texas Parent Representative for Waco, Texas

Verlyn Johnson currently serves as the State of Texas Parent Representative for Waco, Texas. In this role, she engages with parents who are involved in Children Protective Services (CPS) and provides support as a guide in helping parents to successfully navigate through the child welfare process. She also participates and facilitates a monthly parent support group for the parents that have open cases within CPS.

Johnson serves as the chair person on the statewide Parent Collaboration Group, a forum designed to give voice, discuss and implement policy changes within CPS in order to help families achieve better outcomes and improved services. Additionally she has served on the Statewide Disproportionality Taskforce, and is a member of the Disproportionality Advisory Committee and the National Association of Social Workers. She received her bachelor of arts degree in Social Work and graduated Cum Laude, and acquired her master’s degree in social work at the University of Southern California. Johnson is currently a Doctoral Candidate pursuing her Doctorate of Social work degree.

  • Randy Spencer, Senior Vice President of Organizational Impact, Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services

Randy Spencer is the Senior Vice President of Organizational Impact at Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services, a faith-based provider with locations in Texas, Louisiana and Missouri. Spencer holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Baylor University and a MSW from the University of Texas at Arlington. He has served in various roles in child welfare organizations for 30 years and is more passionate than ever about creating excellent care for children and their families.

  • Montoya Thomas, Former Foster Youth 

Montoya Thomas entered foster care at age 5 due to a history of abuse. During her time in care, she lived in 12 foster homes and 2 residential treatment centers (RTCs). Thomas completed the Cosmetology Program at Huntsville High School. She has successfully moved into her own place and is attending Lone Star College where she is working on her associate’s degree in Physical Therapy. Thomas was the 2017 All-Star Intern with Foster Club where she received leadership training to help improve outcomes for foster youth transitioning out of care, educate peers and industry professionals, and change public perceptions about foster youth across the nation at conferences and events all summer long.

  • Donna Wiebelhaus, Kinship Caregiver

Donna Wiebelhaus the owner of SpiritHorse Liberty, a therapeutic riding center for children and adults. Through her work with SpiritHorse, she made a connection with one of her students and opened her heart and her home to their first foster child.

She attended Baptist University with a degree in Elementary Education and worked in the public school system for twenty years. She worked for the prison system in the Re-entry program through the Education Department, and has operated a daycare in her home. She was an active member of the Mounted Patrol for ten years in Tennessee and the Everglades, and has been the captain of the Liberty County Mounted Sheriff’s Posse since 2007.

  • Moderator: Carol Self, Director of Permanency, DFPS

Carol Self began working for Child Protective Services in 1994. She began her career as a Conservatorship worker and a Legal Liaison working in both Region 6 and Region 7. In 2000, she moved into management as a Conservatorship supervisor in Travis County. Self left the agency in 2004 and began contracting with CPS to provide home assessments and adoption readiness studies. She returned to Travis County CPS as the Program Director for Conservatorship in 2008, where she worked until moving to the state office in 2012. Self currently serves as the DFPS Director of Permanency. She earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Houston and her Master of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin.

Panel 2: Parent & Youth Court Involvement: How can we elevate their voices?

The panel will discuss the importance of parent and youth advocacy in court and in the legal process. Following the panel, attendees will have small group guided discussions about how child and family voice can be better incorporated into the process.

Panelists:

  • Mercedes Bristol, Kinship Caregiver

Born in Guadalajara Mexico, Mercedes Bristol migrated to the US at the age of two. She was an Eligibility Worker in Orange County, working thirteen years as a Supervisor for the Public Guardian/Administrators Office before retiring in 2004 and moving to Texas to care for her mother.

Her son’s five children, ages 3 months to 9 years old, were removed by CPS and placed with her for the third time. Given the stress and challenges of her situation, Bristol retired without medical benefits to devote herself to raising her grandchildren. Bristol later joined the YWCA – Abuelos y Nietos Juntos Support Group. In 2016, she organized a Support Group in northwest San Antonio. Bristol and a team of grandparents are now Grandparent Advocates focused on increasing awareness of the lack of rights, resources, and support available to grandparents who are raising grandchildren. Thanks to support of Judges, State Senators/ Representatives and Center for Public Policy Priorities, Bristol is empowering grandparents to advocate for policy changes benefiting grandparents raising grandchildren.

  • Isaac Delacerda, Foster Youth 

Isaac Delacerda was placed into foster care at the age of 14. Since being in foster care he has been in two residential treatment centers (RTCs) and one foster home. Delacerda created I-HELP, a self-help program, and presented on the program at the 2017 Youth in Action Day held at the State Capital. Delacerda actively volunteers with the Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program, and was hired to be a peer leader at PEAKS camp. He graduated high school in May of 2018. After high school he plans to complete his basics in college and join the military.

  • Lori K. Duke, J.D., Clinical Professor, Children’s Rights Clinic 

Lori K. Duke is a Clinical Professor at the Children’s Rights Clinic since June 2008. The Children’s Rights Clinic is appointed to represent abused and neglected children involved in the dependency system. After law school, Duke was in private practice primarily representing parties in child abuse cases. From 2001-2006, Duke continued her private practice representing children and parents on the CPS docket.

Duke is active in national, state and local organizations. She is a member of the Education Committee with the Texas Supreme Court’s Commission on Children, Youth, and Families and currently on the Education Committee’s implementation task force. She served on the state-wide task force to examine the intersection of child abuse/neglect and domestic violence. Duke was a founding member of Court Appointed Family Attorneys (CAFA), a local bar section whose goal is to improve the quality of legal representation for parents and children.

  • Michelle Hansford, Parent Coach Navigator, Santa Maria Hostel

Hansford is a Parent Coach Navigator with Santa Maria Hostel and a Recovery Support Specialist for the Texas Targeted Response Team. Additionally, she volunteers as a parent liaison with the statewide Parent Collaboration Group with DFPS. Hansford provides advocacy trainings and support to two groups, children and parents, that are marginalized in the policy discussions surrounding the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. She is a birth parent who has successfully advocated for herself and her children, as well as for parents in other cases where substance abuse, mental health and trauma are involved.

  • Judge Aurora Martinez Jones, Associate Judge, Travis County

The Honorable Aurora Martinez Jones is an appointed Associate Judge in Travis County and was sworn in on January 2, 2015. Judge Martinez Jones is a Child Welfare Law Specialist, Certified by the National Association of Counsel for Children and has extensive experience working with parents suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Currently, her judicial position is dedicated to the child welfare dockets in Travis County including the Family Drug Treatment Court and Permanent Managing Conservatorship (PMC) docket, reviewing Travis County cases with foster children in the permanent care of CPS.

She is currently the chair-elect for the Children’s Justice Act Task Force, is the past President of the Austin Black Lawyers Association and is the former Chair of the Court Appointed Family Advocates (CAFA). Judge Martinez Jones is active in both the local Austin Bar Association and Texas State Bar through her service on various committees. She is also a Texas Bar Foundation Fellow and a member of the Robert W. Calvert American Inn of Court.

  • Moderator: Judge Darlene Bryne, 126th Judicial Court, Travis County

The Honorable Darlene Byrne has served as presiding judge of the 126th Judicial District Court in Travis County since January 2001. Prior to her election in 2000, she practiced for thirteen years in the areas of employment, commercial and governmental entity litigation. She is the Senior Judicial Advisor for the Texas Children’s Commission and a past President of the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges. She has been named Judge of the Year by National CASA, Texas CASA and CASA of Travis County. She is currently on the Judicial Council for National CASA and is an Advisory Council member for TexProtects, Partnerships for Children and the Seedling Foundation. Judge Byrne is a member of the Travis County Juvenile Justice Board, a founding team member of the Travis County Family Drug Treatment Court and the Travis County Model Court of Children, Youth and Families. She has served on many boards and committees related to law and child welfare as well as community organizations.

Location


Norris Conference Center (located in Northcross Mall)
2525 W. Anderson Lane
Austin, TX 78757

Lodging


A room block has been reserved for the night of Wednesday, July 25, for those who did NOT receive a scholarship1 to attend the Texas CASA Child Welfare Primer, at:

Holiday Inn Express & Suites
17011 Research Blvd
Austin, TX 78759
Map

Room rate: $129 (available until July 4 or when rooms are filled, whichever comes first)

To book: Call (512) 346-5555 or (800) 465-4329 and ask for the Texas CASA Child Welfare Primer Courtesy Block.

1Scholarship recipients have already been contacted by Texas CASA and lodging has been arranged for all recipients. If you have questions about your scholarship or travel arrangements, please email casaprimer@texascasa.org.

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