Child Development in the Colorado Child Welfare System

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Child Development in the Colorado Child Welfare System

Tuesday All Day

We all know that each stage of human development is built upon the stages that came before. This means that, when a baby/child/youth comes into the child welfare system, chances are their behavior will be symptomatic of underlying traumatic events – such as weakening of parental bonds, impact of substance abuse, domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse, and neglect – that have caused developmental issues. During this day of training, you will develop a fundamental understanding of human developmental stages that is sufficient to make decisions that will promote lifelong healthy development for children and youth involved in the Colorado child welfare system. We

Presenter Bio

Diane Baird: Diane is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 30 years of experience in Child Welfare. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education and earned her MSW from Tulane University Graduate School of Social Work in 1981. Diane’s first training as a young caseworker in Dallas County, Texas was a 3 day workshop offered by the Kempe Center. Among the handouts was a booklet entitled “Working with Abusive Parents from a Psychiatric Point of View,” by Dr. Brandt Steele, which has been the foundation of her clinical work. Fast forward 10 years, and Diane was in Denver and working at the Kempe Center, and in weekly supervision with Drs. Brandt Steele and Ruth Kempe. Diane was employed at Kempe from 1986 – 1998; during that time she worked on the Family Evaluation Team, did a little training, and eventually worked for Dr. David Olds as a program manager for Home Visitation 2000. She left that position for private practice, but continued to work with colleagues at the Center. She returned to full time employment in the Training, Education, and Consultation Program at the Kempe Center in 2008; Diane writes curricula, provides training for CDHS and the State Judicial Office, and collaborates with other states in the region to develop and offer training to child welfare staff. At the Kempe Center Diane is also involved in various clinical activities.


Education Advocacy in Child Welfare

All day Tuesday

Children in the child welfare system, particularly those who experience foster care, face tremendous barriers to accessing educational opportunities. Compared to their peers, they experience more school moves, less participation in extracurricular and pro-social activities, lower grades and test scores, increased suspension and expulsion, and are more likely to have disabilities. It is no surprise that poor educational outcomes lead to poor life outcomes, such as incarceration, addiction, and homelessness.

This all-day session addresses the state and federal laws that can support youth having improved access to education and, in turn, better long-term outcomes. We will address the Individuals with Disabilities Act, focusing on issues that more frequently confront youth in the child welfare system. We will also cover state and federal school stability protections, school discipline, and fee waivers. The session aims to provide real-world skills though incorporation of activities and discussion.

Presenter Bio

Kristin Melton, Esq.: Kristin Melton is the Education Program Director at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center in Denver, Colorado. She joined the Law Center as an Equal Justice Works Fellow in 2011, when she started the education law program to address the intersection of education and child welfare law.

Kristin's practice focuses on school stability, special education, and prevention of school push out through both policy advocacy and direct representation. In some cases, Kristin represents children's best interests as their court-appointed guardian ad litem; she also represents children and families privately in education-only cases.

Kristin graduated in May 2011 from the University of Virginia School of Law, where she was honored with the Claire Corcoran Award and the Herbert L. Kramer/Herbert Bangel Community Service Award. While in law school, Kristin represented children and families through the Child Advocacy Clinic, the Family Resource Clinic, and the Legal Aid Justices Center's JustChildren Pro Bono Program. She interned with the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program and Advocates for Children’s Services.

Prior to law school, Kristin earned her bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science in 2006 from Warren Wilson College, which has a unique triad of work, service, and academics. Kristin earned a Senior Service Award for her dedication to tutoring and mentoring youth.


Information in the Colorado Child Welfare System

All day Tuesday

As a professional involved in a Child Welfare/Dependency & Neglect case, do you wonder about what types of information are gathered and the laws that govern sharing the information within the child welfare system? If you are interested in understanding the broad array of records, reports, instruments and assessments that are prepared, and want to access and use this information to maximize the effectiveness of their advocacy or decision making role, this training is for you!

Presenter Bios

Kelley R. Southerland, Esq: Kelley is a graduate of Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, the Iliff School of Theology, and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Kelley has dedicated her career to serving children and families. As a domestic relations practitioner, Kelley's focus was Child and Family Investigator and GAL work. Kelley is a founding member of Radley & Southerland, LLC, a law firm established to provide best interests representation to dependent and neglected children in Division 2F of Denver Juvenile Court. Kelley is passionate about working for children and serving their best interests. Kelley chaired the Evidence Practicum for Family Lawyers in 2011 and 2013, and she is pleased to serve on the planning committee for the 2013 Family Law Institute. Kelley is a past President of the Thompson G. Marsh American Inn of Court, a member of the Family Law Section of the Colorado Bar Association, a member of the Colorado Judicial Institute, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Legal Community Credit Union of Colorado.

Kate Radley Ellis, Esq., MSW: Kate Radley Ellis comes from a multidisciplinary background as the foundation of her strong advocacy for children. She is both an attorney and a trained social worker. She received her B.A. in psychology from Colby College in 1996. After working as a therapist at a Victim Services Center for two years, she entered the dual degree program at the University of Denver. In 1998, as a graduate student in social work, Kate was introduced to the State’s child welfare system as an intern with a guardian ad litem (“GAL”) assigned to Denver Juvenile Court. This experience led her to participate in the Child Advocacy Legal Clinic while completing her law degree. She received her Master’s in Social Work in 2001 and her law degree in 2002.

As a solo practitioner for over eight years, Kate focused exclusively on family and juvenile law as a private attorney, GAL, and Child and Family Investigator. In 2011, she co-founded Radley and Southerland, LLC, a multidisciplinary law office employing both social workers and GALs to advocate for children. Kate has devoted many hours to building strong relationships with the children she serves and has challenged the Department of Human Services when the agency fails to meet their needs. She has also built a curriculum for and supervised social work interns as part of her practice, providing them a rich experience in the fields of social work and law. As a social worker and attorney, Kate has a unique background to handle child welfare matters with both a therapeutic perspective and legal expertise. In January of 2013, Kate was awarded a Certification as a Child Welfare Law Specialist by the National Association of Counsel for Children and accredited by the American Bar Association.


Procedures and Practices in the Colorado Child Welfare System

Tuesday All Day

While it is true that judicial officers and attorneys are well versed in child welfare law and that caseworkers, supervisors, and child welfare directors are professionally familiar with CCR Volume 7, it is not necessarily true that these groups of professionals KNOW ABOUT EACH OTHER’S procedures and practices. What about the other child welfare stakeholders, the foster parents, CASA, and service providers? How familiar are they with the laws and rules that govern and shape the child welfare system in Colorado? Further, how can ALL individuals who are involved in the child welfare system become familiar enough with the procedures and practices to benefit families who find themselves involved with these powerful systems?

Presenter Bios

Honorable Robert Lowenbach: Judge Lowenbach is a Child Trauma Fellow, a Judge in Residence

with the Colorado Judicial Branch, a Senior Judge, and a consultant dedicated to improving court and agency practice for dependent children and their families. Prior to his retirement he was a District Court Judge in Greeley, Colorado. During most of his 27 years as a judicial officer he presided over family matters and served on local and statewide committees to improve the administration of justice for families and children. At the time of his retirement he was the Lead Judge of the Weld County Model Court through the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Victims Act Model Court project.

Korey Elger has been working in the Child Welfare system for years in both the areas of ongoing child

protection as well as intake investigations. Korey Elger has most recently been a Child Protection Intake Supervisor in Denver County since 2006. During that time she has worked as a liaison to the Denver District Attorney’s office regarding child abuse and neglect cases. As well, in 2008 Korey Elger worked with the Denver Drug Endangered Children Alliance and helped to write the Denver Memoriam of Understanding between the Denver District Attorney’s office, Denver Health, Denver Human Services, the Denver Police Department, Denver Probation and Parole. Korey Elger has also presented and worked as a liaison for the Denver Public Schools for Denver Human Services to assist in building better

relationships with the schools and child welfare. In 2013 Ms. Elger presented with Dr. Kathy Wells at the Maternal Wellness Conference to help bring the medical providers and child welfare together for better care for pregnant women and mothers to newborn children. Korey Elger has a Master’s in Social Work from Denver University with an emphasis in Child Welfare and an undergraduate degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Child Welfare from Metropolitan State College of Denver.


Community and Culture in the Colorado Child Welfare System

The Colorado Child Welfare System is a complicated community of diverse stakeholders. Just take a moment to reflect on all of the people involved in a child welfare case: judicial officers, child welfare directors, court staff, supervisors, caseworkers, attorneys, CASA volunteers, foster parents, kin, youth, and birth parents. Chances are you already know that cultural barriers can mean the difference between success and failure, but would like some practical techniques for learning how to recognize and overcome these barriers. If you are interested in strengthening your awareness of how your perception of culture (e.g. race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disabilities) affects communication and decision making and how it may influence your actions regarding removal, service provision and permanency planning, join other child welfare stakeholders for this training.


Michelle Howard: Michelle Howard is currently a Senior Faculty member at the University of Colorado

– Kempe Center. Michelle has over 17 years of experience in the field of child welfare, juvenile justice and is a licensed professional counselor. She is experienced in providing training and professional development on various topics related to cultural diversity, disproportionality in child welfare, father engagement and family group conferencing. Michelle has authored issue briefs and curricula to uphold best practices in the field to include subject matters related to Father Engagement, Child Welfare Supervision, and Leadership in Child Welfare and Addressing Race Inequities in Child Welfare all with a distinct focus on the diverse cultural needs of families. Michelle is a strong advocate for ensuring that professional expertise is joined with the experiential expertise of those served in a culturally responsive manner. Her mission is to support and impact holistic changes in the key areas that promote positive emotional and physical well-being for all children, while ensuring that families and children have a voice. Michelle earned her Master's Degree in Counseling at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.