About the Event

We are excited to invite you to be a part of our first presentation of the Alaska Child Welfare Conference where the theme is “Safe, Thriving, and Connected.”

This conference seeks to improve our knowledge and skill in providing child welfare services in Alaska. Our audience is focused on four important groups: OCS employees, resource families (foster, adoptive, and kinship care families), tribal members (ICWA workers, tribal social services, tribal court personnel), and child advocates (GALs and CASAs). We all hold a piece in our State’s response to keeping children safe and have crafted the conference to hear those different voices and look at child welfare through different lenses.

Virtual Event Structure

Each day will start with an all-conference plenary, followed by a choice of three concurrent workshops in the morning, and three concurrent workshops in the afternoon. For the concurrent workshops, you do not need to pre-select which one to attend. You may freely select which one to attend live on the day of the conference and watch the other two recorded workshops at your own convenience. We will end each day with a thought-provoking panel, grappling with a challenging question and offering a chance to look at these challenges through the different lenses of our participants. 

This conference is presented virtually, so wherever you are in Alaska, we invite you to participate. There are the themes for each day:

November 4 - Safe
November 5 - Thriving
November 6 - Connected

 All sessions will be recorded and available for you to watch on this site until December 6, 2021.

Agenda

9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

PLENARY

A Look at Tribal Child Welfare in Alaska “Where We’ve Been, How We Have Travelled, and How We Hope to Transform Child Welfare in Alaska"
Hear from the voices of a parent and a youth, key leaders in the history of the Tribal State Collaboration Group and the Movement towards the historic Alaska Tribal Child Welfare Compact, and the importance of public-private partnerships.

Francine Eddy-Jones, Casey Family Programs

Miriam Titus, Tanana Chiefs Conference - Opening Prayer

10:30 AM – 10:45 AM

BREAK

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM

CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS

Workshop 1: Supporting Safety and Success: Helping Child Welfare-Involved Parents and Children Affected by Opioid Misuse

Participants will increase their understanding about the many pathways that lead to parental misuse of opioids and other substances. The impact of opioid misuse on the parent’s ability to provide safe and responsive care will be explored along with strategies to increase safety and success with these parents and their children. Lastly, the case will be made to ensure common sense, barrier reduction, and reasonable efforts are applied in our helping responses to give these families the best opportunities to thrive.

Pamela Baston, JBS International

Workshop 2: Demystifying the 1115 Waiver

The 1115 Waiver can be confusing--the changes and opportunities it presents for obtaining services. Join us for this 1115 Waiver 101 session to get your questions answered.

Kristina Weltzin, Division of Behavioral Health

Bunti Reed, Division of Behavioral Health

Workshop 3: When the headwaters are a glacier: Moving upstream for maltreatment prevention requires addressing big challenges

When taking an intergenerational life-course perspective, intervention and prevention become interconnected. From prevention to response and treatment, our collective efforts matter. Whether our work focuses on the child, parent, teen, or system, we all need to understand our role in preventing or mitigating the impact of adverse childhood experiences. Anchored in data, this session will describe the connection between household challenges and adverse childhood experiences, explore the risk behind the challenge, protections, and linking strategies. We truly can make a difference by shifting the life-course trajectory of one individual/family at a time, but we have to be coordinated and focused on the headwater (root causes).

Jared Parrish, Alaska Division of Public Health

Pat Sidmore, Alaska Division of Public Health

Matt Hirschfeld, MD/PhD, Alaska Native Medical Center

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

LUNCH

1:00 PM – 2:15 PM

CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS

Workshop 4: CINA Court Proceedings 101

Overview of the Child in Need of Aid legal process in Alaska. The presentation will include how and when other stakeholders, such as law enforcement and CAC members may interact with the process.

Carla Erickson, Alaska Department of Law

Workshop 5: How Child Advocacy Centers Work and Intersect with ICWA

This session will explain what a Child Advocacy Center is and how tribal child welfare workers can be involved. The use of a Multidisciplinary Team will be explained including the members and their different roles in a child abuse case.

Traci McGarry, Kawerak

Workshop 6: Safe At Home: How do we keep kids from coming into foster care?

We will look at national and local prevention strategies for keeping children safe and with their families. How do we implement best practices for prevention in Alaska?

Charity Carmody, Alaska Impact Alliance

2:15 PM – 2:30 PM

BREAK

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM

PANEL

What are the Best Interests of the Child?

Often times within child welfare we hear the term best interests of children. This concept frequently drives services, decisions, and court orders that greatly affect the lives of children and youth in care. Hear from a panel of child welfare professionals as they discuss the questions, considerations, and determinations for what is in the best interests of children.

This panel discussion will include representatives from foster care, OCS, tribes, and child advocates to discuss these topics from their role and their point of view.

9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

PLENARY

Family Finding
Kevin Campbell is an international expert on Family Finding and Connectedness for children and families involved in child welfare. Kevin will explore the critical importance of parents, relatives, and other caring people within the context of culture and as agents of change in children’s lives. Kevin will capture the importance of not just family finding, but “Family Seeing,” to create opportunities for families to heal: past, present, and future.

Kevin Campbell, Center for Family Finding and Youth Connectedness

10:30 AM – 10:45 AM

BREAK

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM

CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS

Workshop 1: Promoting Lived-Experience to Build Resilience Among Foster Youth and Alumni

What do older youth in foster care need to Thrive? Protective and Promotive factors are key to building the success of older youth in care. Panelists from Facing Foster Care in Alaska will share personal stories of resilience, resources available to older youth, the importance of relationships, and how to draw on lived experiences to improve direct practice and systems improvements.

Amanda Metivier, UAA Child Welfare Academy Office of Youth Empowerment

Workshop 2: Cultural Resource Guide: Connecting Parents & Honoring Community Supports

We will discuss the implementation of the Cultural Resource Guide and coordination of Cultural Support Services. Workshop attendees will learn how Cultural Support Service Providers are identified through collaboration between the Tribe, parent, and OCS, and are compensated through the Request for Funds process at OCS. Join us as we have a conversation about ways to link parents to Cultural Support Services in their community!

Melanie Fredericks, AVCP

Casey Groat, Office of Children’s Services

Dee Pearson, Office of Children’s Services

Tisha Simmons, Office of Children’s Services

Workshop 3: Promising Practices for Recruiting and Supporting Families

Alaska tribal organizations are developing innovative and culturally responsive approaches to supporting families, instituting wellness, recruiting and supporting resource families, and providing prevention services to the people they serve. Learn about some of the promising practices that are happening around the state developed by tribal organizations to respond to the unique needs of their communities.

Cyndi Smith, Knik Tribal Council

Charlene Naulty, Aleut Community of St Paul Island

Amalia Monreal, Central Council of Tlingit-Haida

Lisa Wade, Chickaloon Village Traditional Council

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

LUNCH

1:00 PM – 2:15 PM

CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS

Workshop 4: Tribal Wellness Programming & the Benefits of Connecting with Child Welfare

Information on the Wellness Program at Tlingit & Haida in Juneau, Alaska, and how the program can assist in identifying youth and families that may need support to prevent or assist with involvement in child welfare. The program focuses on the well-being of the family through culturally-based programs that occur inside and outside of the school setting. Within the Wellness Program, Elders are involved to pass on culture, show support, and to give others a way to honor Elders. The Wellness Program connections between youth, family and Elders have helped our children on their journey to wellness.

Mary Johnson, Central Council of Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska

Kyle Worl, Central Council of Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska

Workshop 5: Promoting Health and Well-Being of Children and Families through Help Me Grow Alaska

Learn more about Help Me Grow Alaska, a program dedicated to promoting healthy child development statewide by providing support and information to individuals and organizations who care for and about children and young adults. The vision at Help Me Grow Alaska is to ensure that every Alaskan child reaches their full potential by building a system where every kid has what they need to grow and succeed.

Elizabeth Schultz, Help Me Grow Alaska

Workshop 6: Using an Indigenous Framework in Child Welfare

Overview of research focused on Indigenous child wellbeing. There were 25 self-identified Alaska Native foster care alumni, relative caregivers and foster parents who provided their knowledge, stories, and experiences of what child well-being is and should be in order to improve outcomes for Alaska Native children within child welfare. An Indigenous Connectedness Framework was updated as a result of this study and information will be shared about how the use of this framework could inform policy, practice and systemic change.

Dr. Jessica Saniguq Ullrich, University of Alaska Anchorage

2:15 PM – 2:30 PM

BREAK

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM

PANEL

The Importance of Family Engagement–How do we successfully connect with families?

Research shows that when families are engaged in their child welfare intervention, safety, permanency, and well-bring are achieved more successfully. When families are a part of the process and their voices are heard, they are more motivated to make necessary changes. How is that done despite the typically adverse working relationship families encounter in the child welfare system?

This panel discussion will include representatives from foster care, OCS, tribes, and child advocates to discuss why family engagement is critical to achieving good outcomes and will include strategies for making those connections.

9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

PLENARY

Building Resilience in Helping Professionals

Participants will learn ways to practice wellness and incorporate these personal practices into the workday. The discussion will also focus on the importance of making the mental health of our workforce a foundational priority in our policies and practice.

Renee Rafferty, Behavioral Health Department, Providence Health System

10:30 AM – 10:45 AM

BREAK

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM

CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS

Workshop 1: The Multigenerational Context of FASD & Trauma

This session will explore the historical context of inequities in the child protection system and how that influences our current biases about birth parents. We will also discuss the current conditions that are driving increased alcohol use among women/birthing people and review the basics about how FASD may manifest in both children and adults. Finally, strategies and resources that may be helpful to improve your success with adults with FASD on your caseload will be shared.

Marilyn Pierce-Bulger, Alaska Center for FASD

Workshop 2: Best Practices in Guardianships

Overview of how families work with OCS in establishing a guardianship, when guardianship is an appropriate goal as opposed to Adoption, and ongoing supports once guardianship finalizes.

Jack Eddy, Office of Children’s Services

Workshop 3: Tribal Courts and Tribal Jurisdiction

Overview for both state and tribal workers and best practices to allow for a transfer to tribal court in a way that reduces the trauma/stress to the children involved.

Mishal Gaede, Tanana Chiefs Conference

Brittany Madros, Tribal Government & Justice Division

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

LUNCH

1:00 PM – 2:15 PM

CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS

Workshop 4: Thriving Through Transitions: 3 Keys to Prepare A Child for Permanency.

Drawing from the work of Darla Henry’s 3-5-7 Model, this session will teach three key principles for preparing children for permanency. Participants will learn best practices for transitioning children in a manner to promotes safety and stability in within the new family.

Brenda Ursel, Alaska Center for Resource Families

Workshop 5: Improving Family Contact

ROCK Mat-Su and Beacon Hill share the importance of family contact and the innovative approach currently being piloted in the Mat-Su. What is best practice of family contact? How can everyone involved support family contact that is meaningful, healthy, culturally centered and best for the child?

Dawn Paulson, Beacon Hill

Lindsey Prunella, ROCK Mat-Su

Workshop 6: Recommended Practice for Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ+ Youth

LGBTQ+ youth are over-represented in foster care compared to their LGBTQ+ peers and have worse experiences and outcomes as discrimination, psychiatric hospitalization, criminalization, placement in congregate care and exiting care to homelessness. Participants will discuss how to have proactive conversations with youth about identity and ensure youth are safe and supported with family, in care, in school, and in the community.

Currey Cook, Lambda Legal

2:15 PM – 2:30 PM

BREAK

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM

PANEL

How do we disagree with each other but still respect each other? Developing and Maintaining Respectful Relationships

The work to protect children from maltreatment is filled with great passion and commitment from people who each play different and very specific roles. How do we bring our different perspectives to the work and be heard, while still respecting each other? This panel brings those different perspectives together to address the question, “How do we disagree about the best interests of the child while still respecting each other's role in the process?”

Kim Swisher, Office of Children’s Services

Carla Erickson, Alaska Department of Law

Sponsors

This conference is sponsored by the UAA Alaska Child Welfare Academy, the Alaska Center for Resource Families, and the Alaska CASA Program with support from the State of Alaska Office of Children's Services, the Court Improvement Program, Friend of Alaska's Children in Care, the Office of Youth Empowerment, and Facing Foster Care in Alaska. Click on each logo to be directed to the sponsor's site.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you will need to register for this virtual event.
No. You do not need to download or install any software to participate. You only need to have access to the internet.
Yes, you will be able to login by 8 am on the first day of the conference to test your system and get familiar with the site. The conference starts at 9 am each day.
You will be able to login with the email address you noted at registration. No password is needed. Login details will be emailed to you before the start date.
The event will remain open 24/7 for 30 days. Therefore, you can attend whenever it is convenient for you during this period of time. We understand your schedule may not allow you to attend all of the live sessions of the event.
Chrome and Firefox are recommended.
Good internet connectivity will ensure high quality video streaming.
Yes. Like any physical event, there will have a swag bag for you. You can add all of the documents available to the online swag bag in your account and then email them to yourself