Workshop and Event Schedule

AFFCNY's 30 annual foster care and adoption conference

 The Coalition’s 30th Annual New York State Foster Care and Adoption Conference will be held on Thursday, May 30 – Saturday, June 1, 2019  at the Hilton Albany in Albany, New York


Schedule at a Glance


Thursday, May 30 

Friday, May 31

Saturday, June 1

12 pm Lunchtime Learning with    7:45 am   Morning Yoga  7:45 am Breakfast Keynote
    Nim Tottenham, PhD. 8 am  Registration/Exhibits 9:05 am Workshop Period 4
  2:30 pm Parent Leadership Gathering 9:30 am   Opening Session  10:20 am Break for hotel check out
4 pm  Break 10:30 am  Workshop Period 1 10:50 am Workshop Period 5
5:30 pm  RPRC Dinner Meeting 11:45 pm  Lunch break (on your own) 12:20 pm Workshop Period 6
8 pm Gathering in Sessions Lounge 1 pm Keynote Plenary Address 2 pm Wrap Party – This Is Us: 
  1:55 pm Workshop Period 2   Adoption in the Real World
  3:10 pm Beverage Break   (includes box lunch)
    3:30 pm Workshop Period 3    
    5 pm Dinner break (on your own)    
    5:30 pm BOD/ Advisory Meeting    
    8 pm  Evening Event     

Pre-Conference · Thursday, May 30

Lunchtime Learning with Nim Tottenham, PhD.: 12:00 – 2:00 pm

Development of Emotion Regulation Systems

Grab your lunch and join us for this intensive focus the principles of human brain development.

Topics will include sensitive periods, brain plasticity, the importance of both early and later experiences on brain development. Following a description of these principles, Dr. Tottenham will discuss current understanding of brain development underlying emotional and cognitive development.

This event is free and open to the public as well as being included in Conference Registration.

Parent Leadership Gathering:  2:30 – 4:00 pm

The power of our Coalition is in our parents and families.

Join Coalition Executive Director Richard Heyl de Ortiz and others for an open discussion about legislative and public education priorities for the year ahead. This is an opportunity for parents, families and parent group leaders throughout the state to let the Coalition know what issues or trends they see in their regions and how we can all can work together to improve services for our families.

Open to all foster, adoptive and kinship parents. Refreshments provided.  Additional fee of $15.00 is required upon registration  for refreshments.

Regional Permanency Resource Center Provider Dinner: 5:30 – 7:00 pm

In-person, private meeting of New York State’s Regional Permanency Resource Centers providers.

Gathering in Sessions Lounge: 8:00 pm

Take a break and relax while getting to know those in our Conference community in an informal gathering. We’ll be meeting in Sessions Lounge, in the hotel lobby, to make new friends and reconnect with old. Come join us when you wish. Stay as long as you like. Cash bar.

Conference Day One · Friday, May 31

Morning Yoga:  7:45 – 8:45 am

Prep for a day of learning with an open heart, clear mind and calmed soul. Start the day off right with self-care: Morning Yoga with Lisa Maynard. For all skill levels. Some mats provided, but feel free to bring your own!

Opening Session:  9:30 – 10:15 am

Welcome to the official Conference kick off! Join Executive Director, Richard Heyl de Ortiz, for the “State of the Coalition” address featuring Office of Children and Family Services’s Acting Commissioner, Sheila J. Poole. Opening session also serves as the Coalition’s annual meeting.

Workshop Period 1: 10:30 am – 11:45 pm

1.  From Placement Through Adoption: Attachment Bonds, Loyalty Binds, and Questions of Identity (SW CEUs Part 1)  –This workshop will present an approach to working with families involved in various stages of the foster care system and adoption, highlighting strategies to help foster parents, adoptive parents, birth parents, and caseworkers relieve children of relational dilemmas and the behavior problems that result from such binds.  An overview of the paradoxes of the foster care system will provide the context for sequencing conversations that help children and adults move out of emotional chaos. Video will be used to demonstrate conversations that help all family members talk about and name the complexity of their lives including understanding that children can love more than one adult, children can have multiple families, and adults can communicate with other caregivers even when they don’t like one another. Participants will develop interviewing skills that will enable them to name complicated dynamics in order to help children develop positive identity Catherine Lewis and Melba J. Nicholson Sullivan

All are welcome at this workshop. For Social Workers seeking CEU credit: This is a two-part workshop with CEU credits. You MUST attend both sessions to receive the 2.5 CEUs. Additional fee applies.

2.  Promises Made, Promises Kept; The Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, the Commission on Parental Legal Representation, and the Child Welfare Court Improvement Project The New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children was established in 1988 to improve the lives and life chances of children involved with New York courts. The Commission is chaired by former Presiding Judge of the Appellate Division Third Department Karen K. Peters, and its members include judges, lawyers, advocates, physicians, legislators, and state and local officials. Join the Honorable Karen Peters and Executive Director, Kristen Anne Conklin, to learn about the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice For Children and what it is that they do. They will also present information regarding the Commission on Parental Legal Representation and the New York State Child Welfare Court Improvement Project (CWCIP), a federally funded grant to support implementation of reforms in child welfare court practices that promote the safety, permanence, and well-being of abused and neglected children. Kristen Anne Conklin and Karen Peters

3.  Beneath the Mask: Adoption Through the Eyes of Adolescents – Adolescence is a time when adoptees struggle with an extra layer of challenges related to their identity, their future and their past. Participants will explore how the “normal” or typical developmental tasks of the teen years are intensified by adoption, particularly if teens are being raised by parents of a different race or culture. Participants will gain an understanding of how adoption influences separation from parents, identity formation and decisions related to sexuality. Using her book, Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens, Debbie Riley highlights “the six spots where teens get stuck” as key vulnerabilities around the adoption experience in adolescence. This workshop will address those stuck spots in detail, including recordings of excerpts from the newly published companion book, Beneath the Mask: For Teen Adoptees/Teens and Young Adults Share Their Stories. Potential mild and serious emotional and behavioral issues at home and at school will be addressed.  Debbie Riley

4.  Openness: Encouraging Connections to the People Your Child Loves –  This workshop will explore the concepts that form the foundation for promoting openness and provide practical recommendations for how foster, kinship and adoptive parents can encourage connection with birth family and other supports. The presenter will share what Spence-Chapin has learned through case examples and how it has informed organizational practice. Participants will learn about the benefits and challenges of maintaining connections particularly with older youth, how to guide discussions with children in developmentally appropriate ways about openness and how professionals can support families/adoptees around creating and maintaining relationships. Special considerations for kinship families will also be addressed.  Christine Tangel

5.  Guilt, Blame, and Responsibility: Essential Information for Families and Caseworkers – This workshop will provide attendees with an overview of the long history of blaming parents – particularly mothers – for the mental health challenges their children experience.  It will discuss findings from two research studies that highlight the continued pattern of blaming parents, especially from professionals from whom those parents sought help.  Theoretical content and research findings will be illuminated with examples from the presenter’s clinical and parenting experiences.  Similarities and differences in the experiences of guilt, blame, shame, and responsibility by birth families and foster and adoptive families will also be examined.  Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss their experiences of guilt, blame, and shame in relation to parenting.  Foster/adoptive families and caseworkers will leave the workshop with concrete actions that can take to minimize the disruptive role of these experiences in working with all members of the foster and adoptive constellation. Katherine Cohen-Filipic

Lunch Break: 11:45 am – 12:45 pm

Our new downtown location offers a variety of dining options within walking distance of the Hilton Albany.

Keynote Plenary: 1:00 – 1:40 pm

Two Years and 100 Reunion Connections Later

Featuring Keynote Speaker Shawn Kittelsen Adoptee and Advocate, featured on TLC’s Long Lost Family

Shawn is a father, a writer, an adoptee, and an advocate for adoptee rights whose search and reunion story was featured on TLC’s Long Lost Family earlier this season!  Shawn was born and adopted in New York. Like many adoptees, he had a desire to know more about his origins after the birth of his first child and so he began to search. Since New York has yet to pass new legislation restoring access to original birth certificates to adoptees like Shawn, he turned to DNA. This is where Shawn’s story gets really interesting!

The DNA testing did connect him with a rather extensive biological family based in Syracuse, however, his birth mother was not known to them at all!  It turns out that Shawn’s birth mother was also adopted out of the family, so when he found the rest of his maternal side no one knew where she was. Little did he know, but his quest to find his beginnings led him towards a multi-generational reunion – his search resulted in finding his biological mother and reconnecting her with the rest of their shared newly found family.  Since 2017, he has reunited with over 50 family members! You can watch Shawn’s story, “A Mysterious Disappearance”, on TLC.

During his keynote address, Shawn will share his thoughts and feelings as he transitioned from a person who had zero knowledge of his past to a person with multiple connections to his many relatives.

Workshop Period 2: 1:55 – 3:10 pm

6.  Ecological Approaches to Trauma and Wellness (SW CEUs Part 2)  – As human beings we are shaped by the following contexts: time and space, values and beliefs, social policy, communities and organizations, interpersonal relationships, and our individual embodied experience. What does this mean with regard to trauma and well-being? What resources become available when we acknowledge and look beyond the individual and interpersonal experience?  In this interactive presentation, dialogue, mindfulness, embodied, visual and performing arts practices will illustrate concepts, and invite participants to explore ways to identify and address traumatic stressors and healing resources. Learning objectives of this workshop include an understanding of ecological orientation to trauma. Participants will be able to highlight two to three stressors and opportunities to grow in contexts beyond the individual and interpersonal and learn to develop and practice responsive, sustainable, ecologically valid healing strategies at and beyond the individual. Catherine Lewis and Melba J. Nicholson Sullivan

All are welcome at this workshop. For Social Workers seeking CEU credit: This is a two-part workshop with CEU credits. You MUST attend both sessions to receive the 2.5 CEUs. Additional fee applies.

7.  Becoming a Transracial Family – Considering openness to transracial adoption is a critical part of the discovery process in adoption. The goal of this workshop is to help prospective families explore transracial adoption and become aware of the community resources available to support them through the transition to becoming a transracial family.  Additionally, the workshop aims to help parents already part of a transracial family to identify some of the areas where they could strengthen their support and awareness. Zach and Megan will discuss the tools that can aid parents in successfully enhancing their child’s pride in his/her heritage. Zachary Fried and Megan Montgomery

8.  Born in June, Raised in April: Adoption, Identity, and Family Throughout the Year! Part 1  Through a rich and very personal lens of adoption and foster care and with the calendar as a guide, nationally recognized thought leader and transracially-adopted person, April Dinwoodie, will candidly explore the beauty and complexity of our closest, most powerful relationships with our families and ourselves and how those relationships impact our identity and place in the world. This is part 1 of a two-part workshop; all are welcome to attend either or bothApril Dinwoodie

9.  NTI: Storyboarding as a Tool to Support Transitions and Create Connections  – This highly interactive workshop will provide participants with an overview of the National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative (NTI), along with a sample Storyboard activity to demonstrate the value of adoption competent strategies for supporting kids and families. Participants will learn to use a storyboarding tool for use with adopted youth. When we know a child’s unique story we are in the best position to help by making sure all of the people that work with, interact with and care for that child understand and can address his or her needs.  The child needs to know their story too and our role as caretakers in helping children understand their life journey is essential to their ability to make sense of what is happening in their lives. Participants will create a personal Storyboard, telling their story in images and words to practice this skill. Paper and writing materials will be available, a web link will also be available to an electronic storyboard for those who prefer that medium! Lisa Maynard and Kimberly Paglino

10. The Gut Connection: Maternal Separation and Caregiving-Related Adversities – Gastrointestinal and emotional health are tightly connected and both are affected by experiences of adversity. In a series of studies (first in rats, then in human children) it has been shown that a history of caregiving disruptions can alter emotional development as well as the brain circuits that support such development. Moreover, these experiences are also related to what sort of bacteria live in the gut (the microbiome).  In a promising lead towards improving gastrointestinal distress and anxiety in children, Bridget Callaghan, a post-doctoral researcher at Columbia University’s Developmental Affective Neuroscience Laboratory has been examining the gut bacteria in preschoolers, children, and adolescents who experienced caregiving-related adversities and will discuss these important findings as well as the results of maternal separation research in rats.    Bridget Callaghan

Workshop Period 3: 3:30 – 4:45 pm

11.  Post-Adoption Issues: Knowing When You Need Help  –  When (and whether) to seek outside help for our children is such a universal dilemma for parents. Adoption, like parenting, is a life-long process and adoptive families have to keep in mind their commitment to finding the support they need long term.  This workshop will discuss the ways in which families can build a strong foundation, as well as tackle tough questions such as, Is this behavior adoption related or typical kid stuff?, When should a family utilize post-adoption resources? and What are the available resources to help the post-adoptive family? Megan Montgomery

12.  Siblinghood in Adoption: Its Complexity and Importance –  This workshop will explore the wide range of experience and challenge of siblings in adoptive families (including the experiences of birth children of adoptive parents, children adopted in a group of siblings, children joining established sibling groups (whether adopted, birth, or mixed), those who have “impermanent” foster siblings and those who have siblings in other adoptive homes, with birth parents and in other countries).  The aim is to bring the complexity and richness of these varied experiences to light, to question our assumptions. Nancy and Maya will address these experiences and how they affect identity formation, the process of grief and healing, family dynamics and the establishment of stability in family and self.  They will look at how siblings can be a resource for life and how to cultivate healthy sibling relationships. There will be a brainstorming session on variations of sibling status, an experiential exercise on loss and a viewing of the Adoption Journeys film, Siblinghood in Adoption: Things We Don’t Often Talk AboutNancy Solow and Maya Rege-Colt

13. Born in June, Raised in April: Adoption, Identity, and Family Throughout the Year! Part 2  Through a rich and very personal lens of adoption and foster care and with the calendar as a guide, nationally recognized thought leader and transracially-adopted person, April Dinwoodie, will candidly explore the beauty and complexity of our closest, most powerful relationships with our families and ourselves and how those relationships impact our identity and place in the world.  April Dinwoodie

14.  Managing Microtransitions  – One of the hardest parts about transitions, even if they are positive, is that with every change, some form of loss occurs. This is true even for what we perceive as positive changes. Something is given up when a change happens and many children report transitional experiences as the most stressful encounters aside from other traumas. For children who have experienced loss and trauma, particularly those with executive function challenges, even small transitions can lead to upset and instability. This workshop goes inside the child’s world to understand what is occurring in those moments and how to better manage them day to dayJohn Sobraske and Lisa Maynard

15.   Creating Connections through Reframing Parenting  – Relearning how to parent children who have trauma or difficult past histories is key to making vital emotional attachments. Learn about building connections with your child before correcting their misbehavior, supporting your child through their sometimes difficult behavior and how to figure out where your relationship with your child is blocked and how to deepen connections with them. Coalition Staff

Friday Evening

Dinner on Your Own: Enjoy dinner on your own.

Meeting of the Board of Directors and Advisory Committee: 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Members of the Coalition’s Board of Directors and Advisory Committee from around the state hold an in-person meeting.

Friday Evening Event! Film Screening: Foster Parents Speak Again:  8:00 – 10:00 pm

For the last decade, “Foster Parent Speak: Crossing Bridges and Fostering Change”, the award winning video produced by the Coalition & PhotoSynthesis Productions (PSP) has been used around the world as a training and recruitment tool. In the past year, we have been working with PSP on a follow up video that takes the conversations even further.

Please join us as we screen, for the first time, the final video and stay for the discussion panel afterwards.

Conference Day Two · Saturday,  June 1

Breakfast and Keynote Plenary:  7:45 – 8:45 am

Emotional, Behavioral and Brain Development Through Transitions   

Featuring Keynote Speaker Nim Tottenham, PhD.

We know that many things happen in the mental, emotional, and neurological development of children who have been subjected to harm during the beginning phases of life. Dramatic alterations in their basic brain chemistry affect how their stress system reacts, the way they think, the way they trust, and the way they connect with other people.

In her Saturday keynote Nim Tottenham, PhD., Professor of Psychology at Columbia University and Director of the Developmental Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, will be illustrating some of the results of her research including insight on how early childhood experiences alter or effect the actual physical development of a child’s brain.  As we further begin to understand the effects of adverse childhood experiences on humans, Nim’s ongoing research will assist both parents and professionals in understanding to what extent children’s brains are affected and help everyone understand some of the behavioral challenges we all face. She will provide a real look inside the brains of our children who have been part of the child welfare system and adoption.

Workshop Period 4:  9:05 – 10:20 am

16.  Legal Options for Relative Caregivers and Fictive KinKinship caregivers who are part of the foster care system are likely to have some involvement with the court, this occurs in a family court. This workshop is designed to help kinship caregivers—including grandparents, aunts and uncles, other relatives, and family friends (fictive kin) caring for children whose own parents are unable to care for them. The growing need for kinship families and related support services has led New York to launch kinship initiatives that address the tremendous contribution these caregivers make, the challenges they face and the help they need. This workshop will highlight the legal issues that kinship caregivers may encounter, as well as their legal options.  Margaret Burt

17.  All in the Family – Connecting, Disconnecting, Reconnecting For foster and adoptive families navigating relationships with birth family can be scary, rewarding, daunting, stabilizing, destabilizing and everything in between. Birth families can experience their own version of these feelings. This workshop explores various situations involving birth and foster or adoptive families. John and Lisa will explore such topics as reunification, failed reunification, required and voluntary visitation, moving back to birth family in the late teen years and reunion in adulthood. John and Lisa hope to foster connections and build communities in an effort to help families move forward while minimizing fear and regret.  John Sobraske and Lisa Maynard

18.  Minimizing Harm in Transitions: Part 1 – Part One of Jane and Andrew’s workshop will look at harm, its relationship to systemic violence, and the kinds of harm children transitioning into, and out of, foster care suffer. This workshop (part one of two) also addresses systemic violence and harm as they relate to attachment theory and adverse childhood experiences (ACE). The workshop will include a lecture and group participation component.  Jane and Andrew Fitz-Gibbon

19.   Practical Tools for Preparing and Supporting FamiliesEnhance your trauma-informed practices with the creator of the Riley the Brave (a children’s book utilizing the framework for trauma education and healing). Learn concrete implementation strategies that will benefit agency supports for kinship, foster and adoptive parents. Participants will gain new strategies for engaging parents and caregivers and increasing buy-in from community partners. This engaging workshop will equip participants to put the latest neuroscience into practice with effective and user-friendly tools that can be used by professionals and parents. Jessica Sinarski

20.  Beyond High School: Options and Resources for Youth Transitioning to Adulthood – Alleviate the anxiety of this major life transition and gain the knowledge needed to direct students and youth to realistic options for education and vocational training beyond high school.  This workshop will address specific New York State and Federal resources available for students who are adopted, are in foster care or who are being raised by adults other than their biological parents. Learn more about the information and tools that will assist youth in their pursuit of higher education and beyond.  John Colon and Kylie Regan

Workshop Period 5: 10:50 am – 12:05 pm

21.  Reported! Parents Rights and the SCR Process Foster and adoptive families who care for children who have been separated from their parents because of abuse, neglect or abandonment are especially vulnerable to reports of abuse and neglect. Families often experience increased scrutiny and may be more likely to be the target of maltreatment allegations than other families in their communities which makes adoptive and foster families especially vulnerable to reports of abuse and neglect and susceptible to misjudgments. In this workshop I will address legal issues for foster and adoptive parents in the throes of CPS investigations. I will discuss procedure and process, as well give insight with regard to child protection law.   Margaret Burt

22.  Minimizing Harm in Transitions: Part 2This workshop (part two of two) continues to consider minimizing harm in the transitions children in foster care make in six key areas: 1.  From birth home to foster care, 2.  From foster care to birth home, 3.  From foster care to adoption, 4. From foster care to independent living, 5. From foster care to residential treatment and 6. From residential care to foster care. Jane and Andrew will discuss with participants practical issues and the need for advocacy for the children through teaching and group work.  Jane and Andrew Fitz-Gibbon

23.  Establishing and Maintaining Connections Using Social Media  – From perfect strangers across the nation and around the world to our closest friends and relatives, social media has changed the way we connect with others.  People can now use social media and the internet to find prospective adoption opportunities, initiate and maintain connections with birth families and find support and resources from others within the adoption triad. Online support groups offer communities for adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents.  In this session, Pamela will discuss various ways to use the internet and social media to find community and establish and maintain connections with birth families. We will also address some of the guidelines for adoptive and birth parents to consider when using social media to communicate about their adoption journey as well as the technical ways to use Facebook while maintaining privacy. Pamela Rothfeld

24.Trusting the Tears: Exploring Grief Across the Developmental Span  – For parents, grief is a theme that emerges at multiple times, both for their children and in themselves. Foster and adoptive parents experience the grief of the children in their care: grief for loss of their parents, siblings, pets, culture and other foster homes. This grief is complex and can look different at across developmental stages. Deborah will help parents understand, recognize cope grief, while also teaching parents how to cope with grief, whether it is their own or the grief of the children in their care. Deborah purports that it is important part of staying healthy and avoiding burnout for both Foster and Adoptive parents. This workshop will review the developmental progression of grief and provide some simple steps to recognize and cope with it on a day-to-day level. This workshop is a must for developing deeper connection, and for encouraging healthy healing in both children and parents. Deborah Bell

25.  Storytelling: Control and Connection for Adoptees and Foster Youth – Even within the most loving families, talking about adoption or foster care can be difficult, talking with adopted and fostered teens about the subject even more so. Author and adoptee Meg Kearney will discuss how poetry and the “mask” of fiction made it possible for her to speak her own emotional truth. She will discuss how her three young-adult novels can be used with teens and adults to create a platform for open discussion and be used to empower adoptees and children in foster care to write and take control of their own stories. Having a safe way to tell stories, as adoptees or children in foster care, makes children feel less alone and opens a path to connecting with everyone around them, from loved ones to professionals who work to make their lives better and richer. This will be a lecture presentation that includes photos and short readings from Meg Kearney’s verse novels followed by a Q&A session. Participants will leave with handouts and strategies to inspire adoptees and children in foster care to try their hand at writing poems and stories. Meg Kearney

Workshop Period 6: 12:20 pm – 1:35 pm

26.  A Deeper Dive: Emotion Regulation, Brain Development, and Caregiving Experiences Join Saturday Keynote Speaker, Nim Tottenham, as we delve deeper into brain research. Nim will discuss how the mature amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) play central roles in mediating emotional behaviors. However, this brain circuitry is slow to develop due to the fact that, as humans, we depend on caregivers for survival and the nature of children’s development is intimately associated with the caregiving component. In this workshop, Nim will present a series of behavioral and functional neuroimaging studies that characterize the development of the human amygdala-prefrontal cortex circuitry and explain the mechanisms by which caregiving regulates its development. Nim characterizes the effects of early-life stress on human brain development using data derived from behavioral, physiological, and functional MRI methods with the aim of identifying sensitive periods during which the human environment has the largest influence on neural phenotypes. Dr. Nim Tottenham PhD.

27.  Supporting Youth Transitioning to and from Residential Care   – The workshop will discuss strategies that will effectively help families support youth moving into their homes from congregate care settings. The needs of youth in transition will be presented by both a parent and a youth. A candid discussion on the best way for parents to support this unique transition into a family setting from group living.  Danielle Skelly and Rosie Williams

28. Understanding Your Child’s Physical and Emotional Health: The Impact of Transitions and Stress  – Adopted children are unique, in that they have experienced, at least, one distinct transition in their life – the loss of a birth family.  Whether they have spent time in an institution or have moved in and out of foster homes, adopted children have experienced disruptions that can affect their physical and emotional health.  As an adopted child grows each developmental stage can be a bit “bumpier” due to early life experiences. During this workshop participants will learn to distinguish between tolerable stress and toxic stress and the impact of having an early, secure attachment.  Using case-based scenarios, participants will understand how transitions and stress can impact a child’s physical and emotional well-being.  We will review common medical and behavioral problems, such as gastrointestinal issues, sleep disruption, feeding disorders, ADHD, learning disorders, encopresis and school refusal that end up in a physician’s office. These issues will be addressed these from the lens of an adopted child who has experienced multiple transitions and participants will leave the workshop with an increased understanding of how transitions impact a child’s overall health. Dr. Elaine Schulte

29.  Tough Kids, Strong Parents: Fresh Tools for Challenging Behaviors  – Parenting is so much more difficult when you are trying to rebuild basic trust. Kids with tough histories often exhibit some “tough” behaviors, like aggression and defiance. In this interactive workshop we will take a fresh look at this challenging topic through the engaging storybook, Riley the Brave. It’s a playful take on the cutting-edge neuroscience that is bringing new life to stuck relationships. Participants will be able to identify three key roles parents play with their children, discuss the brain’s two main “operating systems, apply user-friendly neuroscience and the power of story-telling to common parenting situations and practice skills for increasing calm and cooperation and reducing challenging behavior. Jessica Sinarski

30.  The Whole Story Counts: Supporting and Honoring Connections  – In foster care and adoption, children and adolescents experience numerous losses, separations, and transitions. While not always able to express the significance of their origins and the people they’ve been connected to along the way, they carry these experiences in their memories and hearts and benefit from continuity in their connections. Children and youth benefit when they are able to embrace and understand all the chapters of their story and when connections with past characters are validated, honored and maintained.  This workshop will provide an in-depth understanding of why and how honoring and supporting efforts to maintain connections in the face of transitions, benefits children and adolescents.  The workshop will address ways in which adoptive, foster and kinship families can help foster and maintain their child’s connections with their families of origin and to those with whom they develop connections while in care and incorporate interactive audience participation via group discussion while exploring the meaning and value in supporting a child’s connections with families of origin. Strategies for communicating and supporting children and adolescents with regard to connection will as be addressed. Elizabeth Emen

Wrap Up:  2:00 – 3:00 pm

This Is Us: Adoption and Foster Care in the Real World

Wrap up the Conference with an encore performance of the Coalition’s This is Us panel discussion.  Season 3 of NBC’s hit television series continues on the themes of identity, loss, love, family relationships and reunions in a family formed by adoption. Grab your box lunch and join us as our final event uses key vignettes from the show as jumping-off points for further discussion with our own panel of “characters.”

Box lunches will be handed out before the panel

 Registration fees include all instructional materials, refreshment breaks, Friday and Saturday breakfast,  Saturday box lunch, hotel parking fees and any other scheduled conference activities for the two-day conference.

Please note that the Coalition has made changes to the membership inclusion policy. In previous years, the Coalition offered a two-tier conference registration fee structure dependent on current membership status. In an effort to be more relevant and inclusive, the Coalition has changed its by-laws and abolished distinct monetary requirements for membership.

The Coalition will continue to offer a discount, as it has in the past, but this discount is based on date of registration. 

Early Bird Registration   Open Registration   Late Registration
April 1 through April 21   April 22 through May 20   May 21 through conference
Two day: $200   Two day: $220   Two day: $250
Friday only: $120    Friday only: $130   Friday only: $140
Saturday only: $120    Saturday only: $130    Saturday only: $140

Other fees may apply to Thursday’s Pre-Conference events and continuing education credits. A limited number of scholarships will be available.
Please see Conference Policy page for more details. 

Accommodations:The conference will be held at the Hilton Albany. Conference attendees receive a special discounted room rate of $113, plus applicable taxes (reservation code 4AFFC). The hotel must receive reservations no later than May 3. Reservations made after this date will be subject to availability. If you are aware of anyone looking for a room after the cutoff date please have them contact Valerie directly at 518-427-3038.  


Or CALL the Hilton Albany In House Reservations Line at 1-866-691-1183 or 518-427-3018 and reference the code, 4AFFC,  in order to book under the agreed-upon group rate.

Hilton Albany | 40 Lodge Street • Albany, NY 12207| 866-691-1183

Disclaimer While every effort has been made to provide accurate and complete information, the Office of Children and Family Services, the State of New York and the Coalition assume no responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided herein and make no representations or warranties about the suitability of the information contained here for any purpose. All information and documents are provided “as is,” without a warranty of any kind.

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