CEU Sessions

Direct Care


Session 1

Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome: What Everyone Serving Child Victims Needs to Know

April Lott, LCSW, MSW, CEO, Directions for Living


In this important session for all child welfare professionals, the audience will gain a deeper understanding of Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome. The session will positively shape their reactions to, and develop their ability to better support and advocate for, children who disclose sexual abuse. Statistically, child victims of sexual abuse routinely face secondary trauma (including disbelief, blame, and rejection) from adults in the course of disclosing their experience. Such abandonment by the very adults most crucial to a child’s protection drives them deeper into self-blame and alienation. In an attempt to prevent such re-victimization within our own system of care, this session will introduce evidence that shows children exposed to sexual assault often react very differently than expected, and will educate attendees by breaking down the syndrome into its five categories, and improve understanding of the child’s position in the complex dynamics of sexual victimization.


Session 2

The Psychological Impact Of Kinship Care On The Family System

William Nunnally, Chief Quality and Performance Officer, Heartland for Children and John Van Horn, Florida Certified Child Welfare Trainer, Heartland for Children


The success of placements, safety plans, and treatment plans is highly dependent on an understanding of the complex dynamics of kinship scenarios. Professionals must understand at the core level the family’s fear response and dysregulation resultant from the genogram shifts and role movement that come from both children’s replacement and system intrusion. Without that understanding, success rates for relative placements are subject to more difficulties over time. This session is designed to walk the audience through seeing the relative placement through the eyes of the family. Using a highly interactive approach, participants have the opportunity to self-teach as they walk through the family’s experience as children are moved in and out of relative placements and the system moves in and out of their lives. They learn about the real effects of home studies, room sharing with biological children, marital disruption, resource depletion, and a myriad of other effects on kin families that professionals often overlook in our haste to find a bed for a sheltered child. Using this new understanding, participants are then given tools and strategies to implement that will help with understanding the viability of a relative placement. They will learn how to identify a family’s needs and how to respond to those needs in a way that is meaningful and adds to the long term wellbeing of both the family and the children. Additionally, the tools acquired in this session can help to ensure that families are better equipped to participate with us as partners in both safety planning and ensuring placement stability.


Session 3

The role of the Faith Based community in Recovery. How can you help bridge the gap between faith leaders/providers and those in recovery, needing support?

Missy Lee, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Director, Florida Department of Children and Families and Renata Chambers, MS, Behavioral Health Consultant, Florida Department of Children and Families


This session will primarily focus on the importance of the faith based community being a part of a recovery oriented system of care (ROSC). We will share what efforts are being done in NW Florida through the assistance of Southeast Addiction Treatment Technology Center (ATTC) and Morehouse School of Medicine to bridge the gap between those in recovery and faith based leaders and providers. The session will provide an overview of the opioid crisis in the state of Florida through the eyes of a Behavioral Health Consultant who is working in our system to bridge the gap between treatment providers and child welfare. We will include how the state is building a recovery oriented system of care (ROSC) to assist those in recovery. A discussion will be held as to why it is important to know the culture of the families in our communities to meet their support needs. We will also talk about the importance of having families and youth participate in the recovery efforts of our system of care by giving them a voice to share their experiences. One of the goals of our work is to have families collaborate with providers as well as city, county and state policy makers in our communities to determine what improvements can be made to our existing system. A true system of care will allow for a family to share their story and provide hope for others. The faith based community is at times the most trusted support for a family or individual and we are working to assist these faith based leaders and providers with the tools they need to serve their community.


Session 4

Revisit, Rethink, Renew: The Art of Resiliency in Times of Change

Robin Hart, Senior Trainer, Healthy Families Florida and Nancy Peck, Senior Trainer, Healthy Families Florida


Direct service providers deal with families on the best and worst days, helping them find their inner strength and capacity for change. If not properly managed, the stress and vicarious trauma staff experience can be physically and emotionally damaging to them, their families, and their co-workers and can alter their ability to effectively serve families. The “3 R’s” session provides information and skill building in areas to support supervisors and their staff as they revisit, rethink and renew their commitment to each other and families. Team building exercises make this training a fun event!




Session 1

A Transformational Journey: From Traditional Leadership to Change Leadership

Naomi McGowan, Chief Financial Officer, Family Support Services of North Florida and Robert Miller, Chief Executive Officer, Family Support Services of North Florida


The pace of change is moving more quickly than ever before and can pose challenges for the child well-being sector in our distinctively uncertain and ambiguous environment. Navigating rapid change and being prepared for the future is difficult, and different skill sets are required to become an adaptive organization. In this session, the executive management team at Family Support Services of North Florida will share insights learned from beginning a journey to transform their leadership team from a traditional leadership to a change leadership approach. The team was able to identify strategies and approaches to better navigate change in our complex and ever-evolving system of care, through a process facilitated by Tom Woll of the Strategic Change Initiative. The Revolutionary Change Leadership Model developed by the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities was used to explore the various dimensions of change leadership. We all want to be better leaders, and this session will explore a new approach to building change leadership capacities.


Session 2

Research to Practice: A Case Study of Using Findings from the Florida Study of Professionals for Safe Families for Quality Enhancement Strategies

Dina Wilke, PhD, MSW, Associate Professor, Florida State University and Nicola Smith, MSW, Director of Organizational Development and Learning, Devereux Community Based Care of Okeechobee and the Treasure Coast


The purpose of this session will be to provide practical examples of applying research to practice in support of new case managers transitioning from pre-service training to independent casework. The session will pair a university researcher with a CBC administrator to highlight practical uses of research to inform agency practice. A case study will be presented on how data from the Florida Study of Professionals for Safe Families, a statewide study of newly hired workers, were used to review and modify an agency-level mentoring and coaching program. Findings from the study suggested that transition experiences of workers moving from pre-service training to independent casework were important predictors of turnover within the first 6-months of employment. Specific examples of agency-level responses to these findings will be provided that illustrate translating research findings to quality enhancement strategies addressing relevant training and transition policies and procedures.


Session 3

Re-Imagine Adoption Matching

Elizabeth Wynter, LMHC, EdD, Executive Director, Selfless Love Foundation and Thea Ramirez, MSW, Founder & Chief Sharer, Adoption-Share


Imagine being able to match children available for adoption with families on markers of compatibility? Imagine being able to access a statewide pool of prospective families? Imagine using data analytics to inform decision-making? It is time to re-imagine adoption matching in Florida! Learn about the statewide pilot of Family-Match, a data driven application designed to promote permanency and stability for children in foster care. Learn about the children and families’ compatibility assessment developed by the former lead researcher with eHarmony. Learn how you can use this innovative solution to better engage families, reduce the time to adoption placement, and build better quality matches.


Session 4





Session 1

Effective Supervision: Creating a culture of teamwork with mutual trust and respect

LaToya Davenport, MPA, Director of Program Support Services, Boys Town South Florida Inc. and Shari Hanglan, MPA, Director of Professional Development and Training, Nonprofits First of Palm Beach County


Most professionals agree that a positive and productive relationship between supervisor and employee is essential if supervision is to be effective. Supervision can be effective even if the supervisory relationship is not ideal, but both the supervisor and the employee may need to work harder to ensure that the goals of supervision are accomplished. This happens when both parties have taken the time to get to know and trust each other. The quality of the supervisory relationship is just as important as the methods a supervisor chooses. And in order to establish that healthy and productive relationship with employees, one must work at developing a spirit of mutual respect, trust and collaboration. By the end of this session, supervisors will know themselves, know their employees and know the tools needed to provide effective supervision and create a happier and healthier working relationship with their employees and colleagues.


Session 2

The Art and Science of Recruiting Families: A Case for Broad and Narrow Strategies

Jenn Petion, Director of Administration and External Affairs, FamiliesFirst Network of Lakeview


The world is evolving, but are our recruitment strategies? Social service providers often fall back on utilizing the same tactics that have been employed for decades in recruiting foster and adoptive parents. This session will discuss the value of an aligned recruitment plan that involves both broad-based recruitment for foster and adoptive homes as well as targeted recruitment for higher need and specialty populations. Aligning resources and maximizing impact while reducing the burden on staff will be a key theme. Utilizing data to inform and influence creative tactics will also be explored.


Session 3

Facilitate and Engage Using Learning Styles

Lana Swartzwelder, M.Ed., Chief Executive Officer, The Libertore Fund for Children, Inc.

Learn to facilitate productive and purposeful trainings and meetings in this interactive workshop. Walk away with ideas and strategies that you can use to get your participants engaged. Your staff is required to spend important time in trainings and meetings and you spend a great deal of time preparing the information and expect results. Not only do you want results, you want to make the meetings productive and meaningful. Adults come with various learning preferences and in order to reach each of them, it is important for you to recognize how learning styles affect learning, attention, processing, and actions. You will not only understand how adults learn best, you and the participants will also be more tolerant of those that learn differently.


Session 4



Clinical and Mental Health


Session 1

Serving Vulnerable Populations: LGBTQ+ and Sexually Exploited Youth

Erin Wirsing, MSW, DELTA Program Manager, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health and Heather Wilkie, Executive Director, Zebra Coalition


This session will review risk factors and current data on human trafficking and sexual exploitation of LGBTQ youth. Presenters will take participants through the steps of being trauma informed when assessing needs, providing supportive services and working with youth and families with unique and challenging needs. Participants will increase cultural competency and discuss how to best support the needs of this niche population.


Session 2

Teen and Foster Parent Support Initiatives for Enhanced Well Being and Relationship Building

Brandy Leo, Licensing and Resource Manager, FSSNF and Michelle Weisheit, Director of Independent Living and Adoptions, FSSNF


This session highlights several innovative programs designed to provide intensive family strengthening services and support to foster parents caring for crossover and at risk teens. The goal is to provide stabilization of the placement in a family foster home, while reducing barriers for child well-being and permanency. These programs take the unique approach of providing trauma-informed, in-home services combined with teen enrichment activities to foster personal growth and development, increase life skills, reduce recidivism, and promote positive behavior change. This session will address the value of communication and collaboration with community service providers as well as avenues to maximize funding for enhanced service provision.


Session 3

Developing a Mental Health Enhancement for Home Visiting Programs

Caitlin Murphy, MSW/MPA, Senior Program Coordinator, Healthy Families Florida and Paige Mitchell, Mental Health Program Coordinator, Healthy Families Florida


This presentation will cover Healthy Families Florida’s (HFF) experience with launching a dual model mental health/substance abuse enhancement to address the needs of high risk families. The enhanced services are part of a three year pilot program that adds either a licensed clinician to provide in-home treatment services to participants, or a navigator staff member to assist participants with access to treatment services that already exist in the community. Presenters will detail the process of policy development, evaluation planning, integrating enhanced service staff with core HFF staff, and engaging participants in enhanced services. Implementation barriers, challenges and initial successes will also be shared to help inform strategies of other programs hoping to add enhanced services.


Session 4

Refocusing the Modern Family (RMF): An Innovative Approach to Restoring Protective Capacities

Karin Torsiello, President, Behavior Basics and Paula Leonardo, Director of Programs, Behavior Basics


The RMF program has been in operation in Circuit 19 since 2010 and was designed to target positive and proactive behavior change in perpetrators of abuse/neglect. RMF was designed by and is overseen by a team of Board Certified Behavior Analysts who have expertise in child welfare over the course of 2 decades. The purpose of this workshop is for participants to become familiar with the rationale of development and implementation of the program, the teaching methodology and reasoning, the outcome measures and data that this program generates. We will explore the statistical significance of the data measures and the impact that this program has had locally to the child welfare system of care. The effect of this program on participants protective capacity restoration will be discussed and examined. The relationships between community stakeholders and the tremendous partnership with the Lead Agency, Devereux Community Based Care, and the Department of Children and Families will be highlighted as paramount to the success of the model. The presentation format will include lecture (with guided power point), group discussion Q/A, role play presentation by presenters, Active Audience Participation. We promise an exciting, fun presentation that you will walk away from inspired, rejuvenated and eager to take back to your regions!


Child Welfare Policy


Session 1

Innovating Child Welfare: Family Finding and Kinship Navigation

Larry Cooper, MSW, LCSW, Chief of Prevention and Intervention Services, Children’s Home Network and Irene Rickus, MS, LMHC, CEO, Children’s Home Network


This exciting session offers innovative practices that include Family Finding and Kinship Navigation services. As the Federal Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law and significant pending legislation in Florida focuses on supports to kin caregivers to promote family preservation the landscape in child welfare systems may change significantly in Florida and around the U.S. This informative session will facilitate discussion on practice models and implementation, research results, and updates on new child welfare trends and these latest policies as well as impact of the opioid crisis on Florida’s children and Families.


Session 2

Why Recovery Oriented Concepts Matter in Child Welfare

Wesley Evans, Statewide Coordinator of Integration and Recovery Services, Department of Children and Families and Emily Pritchard, Statewide Family and Youth Coordinator, System of Care, Department of Children and Families


A high number of individuals served by the child welfare system experience mental health or substance use disorders. Learn how key stakeholders across Florida are working diligently to establish innovative practices and incorporate Recovery Oriented System of Care principles such as a strength-based approach, person driven care, and peer support services into everyday practice in order to improve outcomes for individuals experiencing behavioral health conditions. This paradigm shift in service delivery and policy practice change requires strong, collaborative cross system partnership which includes partnering with individuals who have experienced behavioral health conditions. Hear directly from biological parents, foster/adoptive parents, and youth about how ROSC principles were or were not incorporated into their services, and how it influenced their journey through the child welfare system. Learn how you can help set individuals up for success by incorporating ROSC principles into your everyday practice of serving youth and families.


Session 3

Head Start and Foster Care Partnership

LaTanya Wynn-Hall, Regional Executive Director, Lutheran Services Florida Head Start/ Early Head Start and Cynthia Harpman, Manager, Contract Grants Department, Family Support Services of North Florida


A high quality early education experience provides child welfare involved children a solid foundation for learning and optimal development that is essential for long-term success. Lutheran Services Florida (LSF) offers a comprehensive services to enrolled children and their families, which include education, health, mental health, nutrition, social, and family support services. This session will educate participants on the efficacy of collaboration between child welfare, Head Start/Early Head Start and other early childhood systems to maximize the identification, enrollment, attendance, and supports of infants and young children, age birth to five years, in foster care or under the supervision of child welfare services, into comprehensive, high-quality early care and education services. Participants will leave with a commitment to ensuring greater access to high quality child care for child welfare involved children, and with the tools and ideas necessary to effectuate change in their communities.


Session 4