2022 Conference Agenda

Attended the 2022 Conference?

If you attended the 2022 Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference in Pueblo, CO, September 19-21, you can now download your certificate. Just fill in your name and the number of hours of programming you attended.

Each 90-minute keynote counts for 1.5 hours, and each 75-minute breakout session counts for 1.25 hours.

Day 1 – Monday, Sept 19, 2022


8:30am - 10AM

Registration & Check-In


10am - 12:10pm

Welcome & Keynote

Keynote: “Community Resilience: A Framework for Children & Families”

Dr. Wendy Ellis

Dr. Ellis will discuss how to apply a community resilience framework with a public health perspective to address mental and behavioral health. Using the concept of the “Pair of ACEs”—adverse childhood experiences in the context of adverse community environments—Dr. Ellis will share concrete examples of how multiple sectors including housing, public education, law enforcement and criminal justice are collaborating to address many of the antecedents that contribute to maladaptive behaviors, criminality and negative health outcomes. Attendees will learn how to identify key community assets and resources, promote upstream efforts to address social determinants and build community resilience using the Center’s Resilience Tree framing.


12:10PM - 1:15pm



1:15pm - 2:30pm

Early Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Keynote Breakout Session Part 1: "Spreading HOPE"

Dr. Wendy Ellis & Missy Berglund & Kendra Schmetterling-Lund

Topic: Innovation Space

Join us for this special 2-part presentation where we build on Dr. Ellis’s messages of Resilience and explore the power of HOPE in building Resilient Communities.


Did you know there is something more powerful than the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences on long term well-being?  It’s something that we all play a role in and something we all benefit from creating in the lives of young people.  By harnessing its power in our communities we can build a brighter tomorrow.
What is it, you ask?
It’s HOPE or Healthy Outcomes through Positive Experiences. And the research is clear, the ABSENCE of Positive
Childhood Experiences is MORE harmful to long-term wellbeing than the PRESENCE of Adverse Childhood Experiences.
Come on in and join us for a skills-based, interactive and HOPEful session.

Topics covered include:

  • The Science of HOPE
  • HOPE and Health Equity
  • The 4 Building Blocks of HOPE
  • Shifting Mindsets Toward a Strength-Based Approach
  • Incorporating HOPE into your Work
You will walk away with HOPE and a changed perspective on what is possible in your community. 
"Breaking the Sound Barrier: A How-To Guide for Launching into Authentic Engagement"

Chelsey Hall, Princess Mack & Ealasha Vaughner

Topic: Elevating Family and Youth Voice

This presentation will outline why meaningful and authentic community engagement is key to ensuring that communities direct the work we do. Historically there has been a lack of knowledge and confidence at the state level to engage in meaningful community engagement. There now is an understanding that state government needs to build mutually beneficial relationships with communities to stop the revolving door in and out of systems and create better systems that actually work for families. This presentation will help you embed community engagement into the fabric of your work and create a mindset that values the voices of community. Participants will be provided a self assessment to support community engagement planning, and resources to help guide implementation of principles. Participants will go through a presentation with built-in group engagement activities to help measure their readiness and commitment to community engagement. The goal of this interactive presentation is to  reveal the best practices, not just by research, but by the community themselves. And in order to shape a better future, research states that community voices must be represented. Authentic engagement builds transparent, informed partnership, and trust with the community, increases everyone’s capacity to address the toughest challenges, leads to systems change, and many other benefits.
"What’s Dad Got to Do with It? The Benefits of Father Inclusive Services in Family Support Programs and a Whole Family Approach"

Tess McShane

Topic: Highlighting the Importance of Male Involvement

This is an informative presentation for anyone interested in learning about the benefits of father inclusion in family services and how to apply this to their current work. Father involvement in families, programs, and services can increase positive child developmental outcomes, and overall family well-being. Emerging research shows the benefits of including a father or father-figure in family support services, and the benefits of a whole-family approach in programming. This presentation will include information on benefits of father inclusion, and strategies for including fathers through a whole-family lens in family support services at the individual, programmatic, and organizational level. Join to learn about how father inclusive strategies can be supported through The Colorado Fatherhood Network. The Colorado Fatherhood Network is a state-wide practitioner network for those wanting to engage fathers in their work and support sustainable practices for Fatherhood efforts in Colorado. This presentation is appropriate for all levels of interest and a great opportunity to connect with peers on the topic of father inclusion.

"We All Have Bias: It’s What We Do with It That Matters"

Colleen Gibley-Reed

Topic: Getting to Equitable and Anti-Racist Practice

Because of unconscious bias, we tend to see an individual as a representation of a particular group, rather than as an individual. While we tend to favor, prefer, and associate positive characteristics with members of the groups to which we belong, we tend to associate negative characteristics with or disfavor members of groups to which we do not belong. These tendencies are the foundation of stereotyping, and prejudice and, ultimately, may result in discriminatory decisions or actions, even if those decisions or actions might not be what we consciously intend or acknowledge. This workshop will help you better understand your unconscious biases and give you tools to work to overcome them.


"Honoring Lived Expertise in ECE Policy Making"

Amber Bilby & Corinne DePersis

Topic: Policy

Statewide parent and provider voices were sought after, valued, and included in the creation of the new Colorado Department of Early Childhood. The inclusion of these voices helped to assure the decisions being made include meaningful input from those most affected by changes to early childhood policy. From multiple bilingual listening sessions to having parents and providers join the advisory group, the breadth of the community voices included many perspectives in the process. Hear from those involved in the process and learn how your agency or organization can improve inclusion of family and provider voice in decision-making and service provision.


"Promoting Well-Being and Permanency among Families Involved in the Child Welfare System Using a Culturally Acceptable Approach"

Michel Holien & Robyn Wertheimer-Hodas

Topic: Getting to Equitable & Anti-Racist Practice

Disparities remain in mental health status and care for racial and ethnic minority youth, who are less likely to receive mental health services as compared to non-Latinx white peers (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3011932/). This can be due to multiple reasons, such as cultural stigma around mental illness, systemic racism and discrimination, and mistrust of mental health care providers. Therefore, evidence-based intervention strategies for underserved populations using culturally acceptable intervention modalities are needed.

Mentoring is a strategy that has been shown to be more acceptable to communities of color. For example, black caregivers may perceive mentoring programs as a less stigmatizing and more culturally acceptable as compared to traditional mental health treatment (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30570291/).

Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) is an evidence-based program for children involved in the child welfare system designed to promote child well-being through skills training and 1:1 mentoring. Research demonstrated better mental health functioning and higher rates of permanency for children who participated, compared to a control group. Although the program was not designed with family engagement as a core focus, the quantitative and qualitative findings suggest that families (both biological and substitute) experience high levels of program engagement, regardless of their race/ethnicity. There may be something about the nature of preventive interventions, and particularly mentoring that is more engaging to diverse communities. FHF has shown that when you engage parents in promoting the well-being of their children in a non-threatening, non-stigmatizing way, you achieve high rates of program engagement and intended outcomes.

Using pictures, quotes, and statistics, this workshop will highlight a non-traditional approach to family engagement demonstrated to improve both child well-being and permanency.

"YOUTH VOICE MATTERS: The Office of the Child's Representative's Engaging and Empowering Youth Initiative"

Cara Nord, Chris Henderson & Elizabeth Arrieta

Topic: Elevating Family and Youth Voice

OCR’s Engaging and Empowering Youth Initiative aims to provide children/youth a voice in legal systems through effective attorney services and advocacy and to ensure that child/youth voice and interests are paramount in the development of policy, law, and practice. The Initiative’s first action step is to support attorneys’ application of the youth-centered requirements in Chief Justice Directive 04-06, which sets forth the minimal requirements for Colorado Guardians ad Litem (GALs) and Counsel for Youth (CFY). Its second action step is to collect randomized feedback from youth with D&N and delinquency cases and use such feedback in attorney evaluations and in the development of law, policy, and practice. In furtherance of these action steps, OCR has collected youth surveys, conducted youth focus groups, and collected additional child/youth-centered data, then compiled and analyzed that data in a paper filled with recommendations. During this session, OCR will describe our youth surveys, focus groups, and other youth-centered data, share a few findings and messages voiced by Colorado youth, and discuss actions we have taken based on those messages…actions which include the creation of OCR’s inaugural Lived Experts Action Panel (LEAP)!

"Responsive Self-Care: Let's Be Well Together"

Mayra Avina & David Wehrwein

Topic: Supporting Workforce Care

What does self-care look like in a world that has changed due to COVID-19? It looks like responsive self-care practices to replenish our stores of mental, emotional, and physical energy during challenging times – and this looks different for individuals, communities, and organizations.

COVID-19 had a worldwide impact on not only individuals and communities, but also businesses and organizations, especially those considered to be essential or first responders. These organizations faced a new challenge of creating protocols and procedures with two objectives: continuing operations; and protecting, caring for, and retaining staff.

I’d like to share my organization’s experience with rising to these challenges, and how my expertise in diverse strategies for self-care have helped us navigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This session will cover:

– sustainable self-care practices you can establish for yourself and your organization, and can share with families you serve;
– what community care is, why it’s important to cultivate it within your organization, how to do it; and
– how Reflective Supervision/Practice supports supervisors and supervisees.

"Leveraging Data: Development of a Substance Exposed Newborn Data Snapshot for Colorado" and "Collecting Meaningful Metrics for Home Visiting: Two Quantitative Studies"

“Leveraging Data: Development of a Substance Exposed Newborn Data Snapshot for Colorado” (20 minutes)

Rebecca Orsi & Kayla Rockwell

Topic: Collecting and Leveraging Data

The SuPPoRT Colorado Steering Committee (Supporting Perinatal substance use Prevention, Recovery, and Treatment in Colorado) imagines a Colorado which equitably serves all families through prevention and reduction of substance use, especially during pregnancy. The committee’s current priority areas include building capacity to apply lessons from state data to recognize and respond to emerging needs. To move this priority forward, a goal was established to provide a tool containing up-to-date, concise and responsive SEN data and metrics. The Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect at the University of Colorado Anschutz was engaged to develop a user-friendly, sustainable data snapshot that will support stakeholders in drawing lessons from data and becoming more responsive to trends. In this session, we will provide an overview of the new data snapshot, a brief history of its development, a description of how we collaborated with key stakeholders to gather input and a demonstration of how the data snapshot can be easily updated to remain current and relevant across years. Join us to learn about this practical tool!

“Collecting Meaningful Metrics for Home Visiting: Two Quantitative Studies” (20 minutes)

Trent Lalonde

Topic: Collecting and Leveraging Data

In this session I will describe two different quantitative projects that involve Home Visiting programs, and how we attempt to collect meaningful metrics and data to make decisions about programs. The first project relates to a standard evaluation of a Home Visiting program. It requires secure data collection across the state and aggregation of multiple measurement scales into a single, coherent report. In this case values collected are relatively standard demographics and assessment outcomes, and quite varied. The challenge is in coordinating across such distance and time. The second project relates to a broad view of all Home Visiting programs across the state. The challenge in this second case is in identifying meaningful metrics for different Home Visiting models, determining ways to coordinate consistent data reporting for different programs, and aggregating data in a way that does not bias in favor of one model or another. Very few metrics were collected in this case, but a lot of care was taken in determining how to present values that are representative of differing deliveries of services.



2:45pm - 4pm

Late Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Keynote Breakout Session Part 2: "The Resiliency Tree: Envisioning and Measuring Positive Outcomes for Children, Families and Communities"

Dr. Wendy Ellis & Missy Berglund

Topic: Innovation Space

Join us for this special 2-part presentation where we build on Dr. Ellis’s messages of Resilience and explore the power of HOPE in building Resilient Communities. 
The soil of a resilient community environment is characterized by a system of supports that nurtures growth and yields positive outcomes. The environment in which this tree is planted also provides buffers that can blunt the effects of trauma, helping children and families bounce back in the face of adversity, and bounce forward to thrive. A critical distinction in the soil of the Resilience tree is the design of equitable, trauma-informed systems and supports. With this as a baseline, the soil of the Resilience tree includes factors that nourish the community and produce positive outcomes that can be measured across multiple systems and sectors. In this skills-based, interactive session, Dr. Ellis will lead participants in the use of The Resiliency Tree to ground important work in  community. 
"The Importance of Serving the Caregiver"

Jody Britton & Renee Bernhard

Topic: Working Together to Maximize Resources

Everyday, 10 children enter the Colorado foster care system. Children in foster care need more than love; they need to heal from trauma. Foster and kinship parents who are prepared and supported to nurture these children is a primary method of helping foster youth heal and navigate the uncertainty of being in foster care. Unfortunately, 70% of foster parents will quit within the first two years, potentially causing further hardship in the lives of foster youth. Due to the recent Family First Prevention Services Act, more and more foster youth will be placed with kinship caregivers who are often unprepared for their new role. Strengthening Colorado foster and kinship communities through stabilizing and supporting them is critical to the well-being of our foster youth. Equity for kinship families, anti-racist practice for foster and kinship youth and caregivers, elevating foster and kinship voices, maximizing resources, and focusing on policy issues are all a part of the equation.

"Bringing Services Together Through Collaboration"

Lisa Jansen Thompson, Melissa Santizo & Stephanie Henderson

Topic: Working Together to Maximize Resources

ECPAC has worked with cross-domain partners to develop and design a co-located and integrated “one-stop shop” for families in an under-resourced area of Adams County. Through strong collaboration with partners in this area as well as families, this Community Resource Hub is addressing the Social Determinants of Health and all five protective factors.

"Learning on the Go: Supporting Parents with New and Innovative Child Care"

Joan Holtz & Patsy Bruce

Topic: Innovation Space

The need for child care continues to be a topic that is talked about among parents, professionals, and lawmakers. Illuminating Child Care is a new community pilot program operated by Illuminate Colorado.  Illuminating Child Care offers on-site Child Care on a converted RV to persons with children ages 0-5 enrolled in Substance Use programs.  Yes, Child Care on a converted RV! Illuminating Child Care provides an innovative systemic-approach to increasing access to child care for parents and caregivers navigating complex life situations, like mental health concerns, substance use disorders, or employment challenges, as they seek to strengthen their families. Lawmakers responded to House Bill 19-1193 to make this community service possible.  Come and learn about our partnerships, see three amazing RV’s created for infants/ toddlers, and hear about parent’s experience using the first on-site Child Care program in three Colorado cities: Denver, San Luis Valley, and Pueblo/ Canon City.

"We Can't Fix Everything, But We Can Fix Dinner: How to Start Your Own Family Support Program"

Hope Forti & Mitchell Devito

Topic: Innovation Space

A casserole dish and a phone call to help prevent child abuse? It may seem too simple, but we can prove it works! Learn how The Neighbors Program worked before, during, and after Covid (and the resulting societal exhaustion) to develop protective factors like social connections and abuse prevention. You’ll go away sparked with a new dream for local families: to match them with someone who isn’t paid to show up, offering tangible and emotional support. We’ll share the steps we took over the past six years to build a sustainable volunteer program (without burning out staff) and invite you to learn from our mistakes and wins. You’ll hear inspiring stories of what happens when we support overwhelmed caregivers (rather than demanding more from them). Sometimes the best thing we can do as a program is to get back to the basics, realizing we can’t fix everything, but we can fix dinner.


"What’s New, What’s the Same, and What’s Changed in Early Intervention Colorado?"

Erika Skewes & Kathryn Moser

Topic: Working Together to Maximize Resources

Early Intervention Colorado provides supports and services to families and children birth to three with developmental delays or disabilities. After years of input from various systems and stakeholders, Colorado legislation was passed in 2021 to move the evaluation process (for determining eligibility for Early Intervention) from the Colorado Department of Education to Early Intervention Colorado (now in the Department of Early Childhood.) Come join our presentation to see an overview of the program, learn about the new referral and intake process including how to access the new EI Colorado Referral Line, and information regarding the new Extended Part C Option that is available to qualifying families. There are many changes that we are happy to share that will help reach more families and provide consistency and equity for the Early Intervention program across Colorado.

"Empowering Youth & Family Expression"

Stacey Sanders & Tamisha Macklin

Topic: Elevating Family and Youth Voice

Words have power. They can lift up someone or tear them down; they can express love or hate; they can share joy or sadness. Words have power and it is critical that we use our words in a way that allows us to speak our truth while honoring the feelings and truth of those closest to us. This interactive workshop will empower participants to speak their truth through spoken word poetry utilizing writing prompts to get your ideas flowing. Building on the successful Empowering Youth Expressions Program created by Elevating Connections, we will explore the use of spoken word poetry (don’t worry, it doesn’t have to rhyme) to share your feelings and emotions with family members and the youth you care about. When people are given the opportunity to just speak their truth in an authentic and creative way, healing & open communication can begin. We will give you tools and resources to take away to find new ways to communicate openly and honestly. You will hear directly from youth who are using spoken word to feel heard and empowered. Having new and creative tools at your disposal to have honest, constructive conversations can lead to a more harmonious home.

"Who are the Helpers? Consultative Roles in the Early Childhood Landscape"

Lisa Matter, Lisa Schlueter & Taran Schneider

Topic: Working Together to Maximize Resources

There are many “Helpers” available to families, children, and providers across the system of care in the early childhood years. Very often those helpers don’t know about each other or families do not know they are available. Please join this session to learn more about the “Helpers” available to all children, families, and providers, and what is in their scope of practice. You will walk away with an increased understanding of your role as a trusted helper and how to strengthen the system of support around children and families.


4pm - 5pm

Well-Being & Networking


6:30pm - 8pm

Evening Reception

Day 2 – Tuesday, Sept 20, 2022


7:30am - 9am

Breakfast & Well-Being


8:30am - 10:30am

Welcome & Keynote

Keynote: “Equity is our North Star”

Dr. Dwinita Mosby Tyler

This keynote takes participants on a journey of “deconstructing” the real meaning of equity, inclusivity, and diversity –and how these concepts show up in the workplace. We will explore the ways in which seemingly small decisions in the office can have significant and meaningful impact within an organization. This keynote is designed to inspire and energize participants to leverage their skills as both leaders and colleagues in the journey to create more equitable workplaces.


10:50am - 12:05pm

Morning Breakout Sessions

"Kitchen Table Conversations"

Missy Berglund, Shana Shaw, Ray Washington & Debra Locke

Topic: Elevating Family and Youth Voice

What is messy, frustrating, and requires so much vulnerability you might want to puke? Easy, it’s the same thing that when successful, it is inspiring, motivating, life changing and for one group, it was purposefully designed to disrupt the systems negatively impacting their community. It’s collaboration! Join this lively panel discussion with a group of community members who came together in the midst of a pandemic and social justice crisis with a single focus of building community protective and promotive factors. Listen to their story of uncomfortable conversations, honesty, failure, and hope. Hear about the innovations that can happen when the right people are at the table. Learn from their sometimes messy, but always worthwhile experiences in building a cross system community and youth driven collaborative created to reimagine prevention through the power of youth.

"Using the Colorado Family Engagement Framework"

Amanda Culbertson & Carrie Germeroth

Topic: Elevating Family and Youth Voice

The purpose of the Colorado Family Engagement Framework (Framework) is to define and identify important family engagement concepts to be applied across early childhood sectors and agencies. The Framework mission aligns with the new early childhood department vision, that all Colorado children, families, and early childhood professionals are valued, health and thriving.

Participants will gain insight into how the Colorado Family Engagement Framework (Framework) can be incorporated into their early childhood settings. First, we will provide an overview of the purpose of the Framework and how it was developed. Next, participants will break into groups to dive into Framework components and brainstorm how to apply the information to their own work with families. Participants will have discussions on how they see the Framework supporting the work they do. Finally, participants will share strategies for engaging with families that align with the framework.

"Suicide Prevention for Students of Color: Heartbreaking Lessons Learned"

Ronald Lee

Topic: Getting to Equitable and Anti-Racist Practice

The session will walk through the racial disparities of suicidal behavior for students, both in Colorado and on the national level. Dr. Lee will begin with a brief review of what is currently known about the risk factors and protective factors for Black, Hispanic/Latino, Indigenous, Asian and Multi-Racial individuals who are struggling with suicide in the United States. This discussion will then explore the challenges that people of color face in pursuit of accessing mental health services. Finally, this session will conclude with brief strategies on how to implement and sustain a culturally humble and racially responsive suicide prevention plan. Throughout the session, participants will be encouraged to share their own personal racial experiences, challenges and expertise on this topic.

"Family Empowerment"

Joni Johnson, Michelle Jones & Becca Chase

Topic: Working Together to Maximize Resources

Mesa County DHS has decreased the number of out-of-home placements by 30% while still being able to serve the same amount of children and youth through intensive prevention services. The Family Empowerments team focus on increasing community engagement in family safety and well being. They provide intensive in-home case management and family coach services to reduce child abuse and neglect referrals and assessments over time. They utilize the Strengthening Families Five protective factors and Partnering for Safety in order to strengthen family functioning and keeping families together. Additionally, they focus on increasing family supports so fewer children and youth are removed from their homes.

"Bridging the Gap: How to Better Help BIPOC Families Access Mental Health Resources"

Kati Garner

Topic: Getting to Equitable and Anti-Racist Practice

Members of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities, and other minority groups often face disproportionate inequities in care, support or mental health services in this country. A number barriers and inequities have led to access to care, misunderstandings around care and fear regarding mental health. This presentation will address common barriers and how we can support our families and children in accessing care.

"The Intentional Use of Team Coaching to Support Organizational Health"

Kelly Parsons & Stacy Walsh

Topic: Supporting Workforce Care

Colorado has seen great success with improving the health of child welfare organizations through team coaching. By exploring the relationship system, rather than focusing on the individuals, partners and teams have experienced an increase in their understanding of one another, their common goals, and how to skillfully navigate conflict such that actionable and sustainable change happens. Join this session to learn more about how this type of coaching can improve the effectiveness of teams in your organization. We will share findings from a new evaluation of our team coaching program, which utilizes the Organization, Relationship and System Coaching (ORSC) model with child welfare professionals in Colorado. We will also give participants an opportunity to experience the impact that this type of coaching can have through some “real play” skills practice.

"Dismantling Toxic Masculinity to Disrupt Sex Trafficking"

Stefania Agliano & Bryan Hall

Topic: Getting to Equitable and Anti-Racist Practice

While anyone can identify as a trafficker, this workshop is specifically focused on cis, heteronormative males as perpetrators. Workshop participants will be given an overview on the importance of working with adolescent and young adult males who are at risk of becoming involved in the crime of trafficking. This workshop will allow participants to critically reflect further on how they assess trafficking cases potentially providing a new means of intervention to explore. By discussing the trafficker as someone needing services, we position ourselves on the national level to make systemic changes for adolescent and young adult males that can potentially eliminate the trafficker, while actively addressing exploitation, sex trafficking and other forms of gender-based violence.

"Outlining the Pathway to Human Flourishing and Holistic Health"

Joneen Mackenzie

Topic: Elevating Family and Youth Voice

Operationalizing wellness was the impetus behind the Harvard Human Flourishing Study. The pathway to flourishing is rooted in 6 Domains. Positive relationships and social supports undergird the data. Relationship, life skills, and social-emotional competencies are essential for health and well-being. Research outlines a correlation between optimal health and the quality of one’s relationships and social supports. The Harvard Happiness Study, Stanford Connectedness and Health Study, and the Harvard Human Flourishing Study highlight compelling reasons to support relational wellness. Healing from ACES and/or acute trauma are rooted in social supports and healthy connections. This session will explore the data and outline the pathway toward human flourishing and holistic health.

"Authentic Relationships Through Lived Experience" and "Addressing Benefit Program Barriers for Denver’s American Indian/Alaska Native Community"

“Authentic Relationships Through Lived Experience” (20 minutes)

Kimberly Raff

Topic: Elevating Family and Youth Voice

Presentation will be based around the importance of authentic relationships built in a community through lived experience in order to support Foster Alumni after they have left the foster care system. The importance of their voice and changing the narrative of providing services to this population.

“Addressing Benefit Program Barriers for Denver’s American Indian/Alaska Native Community” (20 minutes)

Megan Berry & Johnny McCraigie

Topic: Getting to Equitable and Anti-Racist Practice

The Denver Indian Family Resource Center, in partnership with the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment, is currently working to identify and address barriers to application and enrollment in public benefit programs such as SNAP, WIC and CCCAP, for Denver’s American Indian and Alaska Native community. Conversations with community members, as well as program staff at the local, state and Federal levels, have revealed lack of knowledge about Native-specific complications associated with applying to benefit programs, as well as inconsistencies in application processing. In this session, we will share the results of community focus groups and surveys conducted in 2021, as well as our current efforts to develop a training tool for both program staff and applicants, to increase knowledge and decrease stigma and perpetuation of incorrect practices. This work is funded in part by a Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment Essentials for Childhood grant.


12:05pm - 1:15pm



1:15pm - 2:30pm

Early Afternoon Breakout Sessions

"Connecting the Dots: Supporting Families and Reducing Out of Home Placements"

Lucinda Wayland Connelly

Topic: Policy

Overview of Colorado’s FFPSA Prevention Plan and connecting program and service delivery to the reduction of out-of-home placements for children/youth involved in the child welfare system and why it is an important goal; how it impacts child safety. Interactive activities and opportunities for questions and answers about the prevention plan, and the expansion of services.

"What to Expect When Talking the 'TALK'" (4 hours)

Sadie Rose Pace

Topic: Innovation Space 

From exploring how development progresses, to knowing how to respond to questions that make you squirm, we will focus on how your role in a child’s life and your influence can impact a child’s sexual development, even before you think it is time for “The Talk.”

"Strategies for Anti-Racist Integration When Working With Youth"

Toni Zimmerman

Topic: Getting to Equitable and Anti-Racist Practice

When working with youth, particularly youth of color, anti-racist practices are essential to integrate throughout any program. Yet many caring professionals are not sure how to integrate these practices including how to have open conversations with youth about bias and discrimination and its impact. This presentation will outline strategies for how to integrate this work into all aspects of a program including interactions with youth. A model will be presented and practiced in the session to increase skill and knowledge in this area. This model will include how to address our own implicit bias.

"A Punch in the Arm"

Colleen Gibley-Reed

Topic: Getting to Equitable and Anti-Racist Practice

The term microaggression was coined by American Psychiatrist and Harvard University Professor, Chester M. Pierce in 1970 to name relatively slight, subtle, and often unintentional offenses that cause harm. Join us as we unpack different microaggressions, why they are problematic and how they impact members of historically marginalized groups. We will also discuss how to take action when you hear microaggressions from yourself or others in an effort to demonstrate allyship.

"Healthy Home Visiting Staff: Strengthening Mental Health and Wellness Through Consultation and Education"

Michele Provost & Jackie Cordova

Topic: Supporting Workforce Care

The session will begin with a brief introduction to the topic, including a reminder that families engaged in home visiting may face challenges such as high levels of stress, depression, substance abuse, trauma, violence, or isolation and that these issues require support and expertise that go beyond the skills of a typical home visitor. We will explore the overarching goals of Enhanced Home Visiting (EHV), namely, to strengthen home visitors’ support systems, reflective capacity, mindfulness practices, and knowledge of child development all with the aim of better supporting families facing difficult circumstances. Presenters will then explain Colorado’s unique approach to Enhanced Home Visiting. Ours is a three-pronged strategy that includes reflective consultation for home visitors and supervisors, workplace wellness strategies based in trauma-informed practice, and professional development and endorsement in infant and early childhood mental health practices. This session will share an overview of each component along with an explanation of why each is a critical part of the overall project success. In addition, we will share its approach to evaluating the EHV project and the results. We will discuss the challenges, opportunities, and lessons, along with project implementation adjustments based on survey and focus group responses. This session will include participant engagement in mindfulness activities throughout and will end with small group discussion. Participants will be encouraged to identify ways they can successfully add reflective consultation and wellness practices into their individual programs and then share their reflections with the full group.

"You Survived! What Now? ….Keep Swimming…."

Wendy Faulhaber

Topic: Elevating Family and Youth Voice

What do you want?   What will you have when you get what you want?  How will you know when you have what you want?   Do you know the answer to these questions?  If not, join me so you can answer these questions and start living the life you are called to live with your strengths that you were designed with!  

You will be introduced to coaching and how it can be a valuable resource to gain clarity of who you were in the past, who and where you are today, and what you want moving forward.  

In this session you will identify your top 5 values, become clear on what you are willing to take a stand for, based on your values and how they align with your actions and intentions in your everyday life.  This will bring awareness to the power in knowing your values and how you are honoring or dishonoring them.  Change is more sustainable when you are able to connect it to a value.  You will also look at your life from a holistic view.  Looking at life from the lens of one big picture you will be able to identify what is working and not working and what change(s) you want to make.  Creating change can start anywhere, even the areas that you may already be succeeding in.   After you identify your values and have identified areas you would like to change and grow in you will decide on steps you are willing to take to reach your goals! 

Change your NOW WHAT? to NOW I CAN!   

"Building Power Through Caregiver and Family Voice Spaces"

Fikile Ryder & Heather Hicks

Topic: Elevating Family and Youth Voice

Centering family voice is a pillar of Thriving Families, Safer Children work. A deep belief in the importance of family voice is what has brought many of the partners we have to the table. However, the truth is that we take family voice members out of their comfort zone and network and bring them into the comfort zone and networks of “human services and public health professionals”. It is no wonder that it is incredibly difficult to build conditions that truly even out the playing field and ensure equal power and value to family voice members – an equal “vote” is not enough. Today’s session is about understanding one of the simple, organic and powerful ways in which family voice members in Colorado created an intervention that has manifested in stronger informal networks, leadership roles, increased decision making, courageous conversations and impact. This will be an interactive session that both shares the story and “how to” around the intervention, tools that can be utilized, and also brings people into the experience of the work that family voice members are doing.

"Learning and Growing Through Collaboration"

Marisol Velez Murray, Kevin Glover & Joshua Zielinski

Topic: Working Together to Maximize Resources

This session would describe specific shifts in practice in collaboration efforts. The session will describe how to intentionally build relationships as a change agent in your organization in order to improve organizational best practices, share resources, and break down silos. We will share specific practical examples that have helped maximize programming potential and best practices for Marisol Homes, a shelter for single and expectant mothers. Marisol Homes has expanded it’s collaborative partners for programming from 1 program to 14 in one year. Presenters will share how in partnership with Samaritan House a family shelter forum was built in the Denver Metro area and the fruits of this collaboration network.

"The 5 Things for Mental Health"

Kimberly Bevill

Topic: Supporting Workforce Care

Our daily behaviors are a holy grail for all success: academic, social, and even financial. The truth is there are steps we can follow to be successful and drop those that are not. Learn strategies that fuel your brain and build the networks for success. They are not secrets – sleep, physical activity, and interaction basics allow us productivity at work, school, and in life. Behaviors we cannot take for granted impact mood, intelligence, health, even problem-solving. You will love the tips for creating habits that promote mood, relationships, and our personal best.


2:30pm - 3pm

Break & Snack


3pm - 4:15pm

Late Afternoon Breakout Sessions

"Promoting Positive Community Norms in Colorado Communities"

Hattie Landry

Topic: Innovation Space

The Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families (the Partnership or CPTF) works collaboratively across Colorado to create the conditions for strong families and communities where children are healthy, valued and thriving. One of the priorities of CPTF is to change community norms related to social connectedness to combat parent and caregiver isolation. The CPTF believes that creating positive norms around help-offering and help- seeking behaviors within our communities on multiple levels (among individuals, families, and peers; workplaces, schools, and community organizations; and local and state governments and entities) shall help families thrive. This session will share takeaways from a research project to better understand beliefs around help-offering and help-seeking in Colorado. We’ll also cover lessons learned in stakeholder processes, including the involvement of families in research tool design. The session will also provide multiple opportunities for participant discussion, including how they see these norms show up in their own communities.

"What to Expect When Talking the 'TALK'" (4 hours)

Sadie Rose Pace

Topic: Innovation Space 

From exploring how development progresses, to knowing how to respond to questions that make you squirm, we will focus on how your role in a child’s life and your influence can impact a child’s sexual development, even before you think it is time for “The Talk.”

"Learn How to Drive Stress to be Your Superpower"

Tam John

Topic: Supporting Workforce Care

If the idea of stress relief, stress management, stress recovery and the mere mention of the word STRESS stresses you out, consider Harvard Business Review says “Stress makes people nearly three times as likely to leave their jobs, temporarily impairs strategic thinking, and dulls creative abilities. Burnout, then, is a threat to your bottom line, one that costs the U.S. more than $300 billion a year in absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity, and medical, legal and insurance costs.” Stress will impair good nights of sleep and may well be the root of all dis-ease. This fact based presentation will enlighten attendees with easy, in the moment, tips, tactics and strategies to evolve a lifestyle and workstyle that nourishes the root of stress effects. [We needn’t meditate for hours to relieve stress.]

Well-practiced stress relief supports the individual and collective whole. This is a science based presentation with time-honored wisdom to give and inspire the practical application of stress relief in the moment with the ‘why’ behind it. MANY ideas and techniques will be provided as takeaways for each attendee to personalize. The notion of erasing stress is erroneous. Yet the practices taught can bring about making stress work for you, as a part of a growth strategy personally and professionally as your Superpower.

"Why We Should Not Fear Critical Race Theory"

Colleen Gibley-Reed

Topic: Getting to Anti-Racist Practice

Across the nation, officials have raced to enact new laws and introduce new policies to ban critical race theory, an academic framework that examines how policies and the law perpetuate systemic racism. This workshop will explain the tenets of critical race theory, how critical race theory is largely misunderstood, and the impact of cutting short conversations about racism and inequality.


"Elevating Constituent and Family Voices to Inform Policy and Re-Envision Colorado's Child Welfare System"

Joe Homlar, Madel Leal, Makita Cotto, Cara Nord & Diane Smith

Topic: Elevating Family and Youth Voice

Presenters will share their experiences regarding the recent development of two uniquely effective platforms for elevating the voices of Coloradans with lived experience in the child welfare system and the impact of these platforms on Colorado child welfare policy and system re-visioning. This Session will engage participants who are interested about effective strategies in engagement and encourage sharing of ideas to strengthen community engagement and empowerment at multiple levels.


"Talking about Substance Use: How to Support Children and Families"

Anne Auld

Topic: Innovation Space

Conversations on substance use can be complex, confusing and are sometimes completely avoided because professionals don’t know what to say. When we start the conversation about substance use and provide nonjudgmental support, people are far more likely to get the help they need. This session will increase knowledge of the issue and resources to support programs, staff, and families. The session will also explore strength-based approaches to reduce stigma and support families in recovery.

"A Stress-Responsive Approach to Productive Conversations on Race, Equity, and Inclusion"

Vani Tangella & Audra Bishop

Topic: Getting to Equitable and Anti-Racist Practice

People often express varying degrees of anxiety and fear about engaging in conversations about race. “What if I say or do the wrong thing?” “We never talked about race at work before, why now?” Do you find yourself stepping into or stepping away from these conversations? Conversations on race don’t always have to be difficult – it may be uncomfortable and it may be triggering. How can you move through that discomfort or hurt? Like any new skill, it requires practice and it also requires self-awareness, compassion, and vulnerability. In this workshop, we’ll walk you through a stress-responsive approach to productive conversations on race, equity, and inclusion. You’ll walk away with language, practical tools, and confidence to navigate emotionally charged conversations in your personal and professional life. 
"How Media Invites Us In: Using Media to Explore Privilege & Oppression"

Stacy Walsh & Adrian Lara

Topic: Getting to Equitable and Anti-Racist Practice

In this engaging presentation, facilitators from the Kempe Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment will describe their use of “media circles” as a tool to build relationships and make room for brave, thoughtful discussions. These bite-size learning opportunities invite learners to watch or listen to experts on a variety of thought-provoking topics, then engage fellow participants in unpacking the concepts and applying them to the work of child welfare. Presenters will discuss how the use of media clips invites learners into relationship with one another and enables brave, thoughtful discussion, moving them toward race equity in child welfare and beyond. Through skillful presentation, facilitators of these media circles also challenge learners to tap into courage, set aside their own agendas, and practice empathy with one another.

Presenters in this session will describe the process of selecting media clips, developing powerful questions, and facilitating meaningful dialogue with media circle participants on topics of equity, inclusivity, and justice. Participants in this conference session will walk away with ideas for implementing brave conversations in their own teams and workplaces.

"Essentials for Childhood: Local Public Health Agencies & Family Resource Centers Collaborating Together" and "Connecting Our Most Vulnerable Families"

“Essentials for Childhood: Local Public Health Agencies & Family Resource Centers Collaborating Together” (20 minutes)

Hithaishini Kodicherla & Teri Haymond

Topic: Working Together to Maximize Resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Essentials for Childhood program in Colorado aims to prevent child abuse and neglect through upstream prevention factors such as changing social norms and strengthening economic supports. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Family Resource Center Association (FRCA) are collaborating with local public health agencies (LPHAs) and family resource centers (FRCs) or community organizations (COs) in 5 counties: Denver, Mesa, Montezuma, Morgan, and Kiowa & Prowers. The Changing Social Norms partners, the FRCs or COs, focus on the following norms: accessing food, help-seeking with parenting, and collective prosperity and the Strengthening Economic Supports partners, the LPHAs, focus on increasing enrollment in WIC, SNAP, & CCCAP in their communities. We will share how our local partners have strategically aligned their work in their communities to prevent child abuse at the community level. We will also cover how the Essentials for Childhood program has collaborated with state-level programs including the CDC’s Overdose Data to Action and the Title V Maternal and Child Health Block grant to promote their strategies.


“Connecting Our Most Vulnerable Families” (20 minutes)

Zuben Bastani

Topic: Innovation Space

Poverty and language barriers are just a couple of hurdles that prevent agencies, non-profits and schools from connecting with their families. However, with the right tactics and culture, closing the engagement gap is possible. We’ll discuss proven methods from over 400 schools that bridge the divide. Leaders and educators can employ these lessons to ensure no one gets left behind, families are engaged, participation climbs and resources are utilized and students succeed.


4:15pm - 5pm

Well-Being and Mindfulness

Day 3 – Wednesday, Sept 21, 2022


7:30am - 9am

Breakfast & Well-Being


9am - 10:15am

Morning Breakout Sessions

"The Value of Fatherhood Groups and Father Involvement in the Development of the Whole Child"

Missy Berglund, Alex Garcia, Adam Combs & Adrian Nunez

Topic: The Importance of Male Involvement

Let’s be honest, the representation of male caregivers in the media, in the workforce, and in homes is too frequently unbalanced and fails to present men as whole, present, or emotionally available. At the same time, research has shown the profound positive impacts of male caregivers on emotional development.  We even know that fathers biologically experience hormonal changes when bonding with children, yet we frequently fail to honor and nurture their growth in the role of father.

Join us and hear from three fathers whose work in their community is changing the way fathers engage with the Child Welfare system, engage with other fathers, engage with their co-parents, and most importantly how they engage with their children.  Hear how Denver DHS is building comprehensive and inclusive fatherhood programming.  Learn about how 2 fathers, who are also Veterans, have successfully adapted Circle of Parents programming to meet the needs of both fathers and Veterans  to connect in their community, heal through relationships, and support each other through the struggles of parenting. 

Leave with resources, ideas, and hope at what can be created in your community to support fathers in leading a culture shift that honors them.  

"Working & Engaging with Fathers: Resources and Tips on Recruitment from the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse"

James Worthy

Topic: Highlighting the Importance of Male Involvement

This interactive workshop will highlight free resources to help effectively recruit, engage, and equip fathers. Father involvement with children leads to better academic performance, improve critical thinking skills, and exhibit healthier behavior. This presentation will overview tips and best practices for involving fathers in the community. These practices and strategies come from the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse which is a federally funded resources under the US Department of Health & Human Services focused on serving fathers, families, and practitioners. This is a great resource for all family leaders to learn how to cultivate and manage community partnerships with fathers and families.

"Building Partnerships and Braiding Funding for Prevention Programs"

Daphne McCabe, Kendra Dunn & Jennie Munthali

Topic: Working Together to Maximize Resources

Using Colorado’s launch of Family Connects (an evidence-based Universal Home Visiting model) as a case study, we will explore how new and existing funding streams can be braided to support prevention programming.


"More Than Sex and STIs: A Call to Action for Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education (CHSE)"

Deja Moore

Topic: Elevating Family and Youth Voice

CHSE is known to improve youth sexual health and reduce unintended pregnancy, but what about suicide, bullying, and sexual violence? This session will explore how CHSE policies and instruction, with a focus on anti-oppressive CHSE that centers a racial equity and social justice framework, can be used to mitigate risks. Presenters will discuss the research behind CHSE, core components of instruction, and available resources to support implementation such as inclusive policy assessments and adapted curricula tools to meet the needs of queer youth, youth of color, and youth experiencing disabilities, and others traditionally left out of sex education.

"DPALS- Denver Parent Advocates Lending Support"

Francisco Garza-Ortiz & Diane and James Smith

Topic: Elevating Family and Youth Voice

DPALS (Denver Parent Advocates Lending Support) is an opportunity for parents involved/non-involved with child welfare to engage with parents partners for support and advocacy.

Navigating the child welfare system can be daunting to families who are new to the process. That’s were the DPALS can help. Our Parent Advocates have personal experience with the child welfare system and have put in the work and commitment to change their lives and strengthen their families. While playing a neutral role in the process, they provide parents with support, encouragement, navigation, and connection to resources.

Our DPALS help parents make the changes needed to meet their children’s needs and ultimately move towards reunification or appropriate permanency goals for the family.

The DPALS also offer free Evidence-Base Trainings (BPFF- Best Protective Factors Framework in your Work) and WRAP- (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) The Trainings have been offered to Parents, Foster Parents, Kinship Providers, Professionals( DHS, Court System, Juvenile Justice System, Non profit organizations, and Community base organizations). We will introduce the DPALS program along with the 5-Protective Factors and explain the Wellness Recovery Action Plan during our 75 minute sessions.

"Creating a Colorado Where Children Grow Up Free From Sexual Abuse: An Issue Brief on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse"

Anne Auld & Margaret Ochoa

Topic: Innovation Space

Adults are responsible for creating and sustaining safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments where children can grow up healthy and reach their full potential. It is possible to protect children against sexual abuse if prevention strategies are thoughtfully incorporated into all aspects of society by governments, businesses, nonprofits, community organizations and individuals. In this session, co-chairs of the Colorado Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Coalition will present the findings of the brief, and through an interactive discussion gain feedback and create next steps in implementation of Recommendations.

"Maximizing Services in Larimer County: How Working Together Supports Families and Strengthens the Community" and "Influencing Child Resilience Through Protective Factors: Evaluating the Power of CASA Advocacy"

“Maximizing Services in Larimer County: How Working Together Supports Families and Strengthens the Community” (20 minutes)

Milena Casamassima, Deb DeLuca-Forzley & Katie Golieb

Topic: Working Together to Maximize Resources

This awareness and information-sharing presentation will highlight how Larimer County, Colorado is working together to maximize resources to provide a “no wrong door” approach for families to access needed services and resources. The Supported Families, Stronger Community (SFSC) Initiative represents a significant shift in prevention practice centering new collaborative partnerships, shared referral processes, and the utilization of the protective factors framework to guide work with families. Featuring a service navigation model, SFSC leverages the diverse strengths of the Larimer County community to think differently about service alignment, agency cooperation, resource sharing, and funding blending and braiding. The Initiative strives to elevate the family voice through intentional hiring processes that ensure community members are involved in the program and evaluation processes. From monthly Continuous Quality Improvement meetings to quarterly Community Coalition Teams and Communities of Practice, SFSC is invested in collecting and leveraging data in ways that allow agency partners to engage in iterative data interpretation. The Initiative is also focused on equitable communication and data accessibility illustrated by co-created deliverables that balance methodological rigor with practice applications. The presentation will highlight challenges faced and lessons learned throughout this community-engaged evaluation approach to facilitate agency collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and inclusion of families and communities in program evaluations. The presentation also will reflect on how the collaboration with agency partners is maximizing community resources and how working together is strengthening the protective factors of the families and communities being served.

“Influencing Child Resilience Through Protective Factors: Evaluating the Power of CASA Advocacy” (20 minutes)

Kelsey Fife Duarte & Mara Wilde Buchmann

Topic: Collecting and Leveraging Data

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are trained volunteers appointed by judges to provide best interest advocacy to children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Research shows protective factors, including a caring adult and supports in times of need, can mitigate harm, and increase resilience. This is particularly relevant for children involved in dependency and neglect (D&N) cases who are at increased risk for negative outcomes including reduced educational attainment, physical and mental health problems, and juvenile delinquency.

CASA in Colorado uses a statewide evaluation system to monitor CASA advocacy in five key domains: permanency and safety, development/education, health, relationships and community, and transition to adulthood. The results are disseminated to the local CASA programs using Power BI, giving each local program the opportunity to dive into their own data. This allows each program to celebrate their successes, know how and where they should work on program improvement, and use the data to boost volunteer recruitment and fundraising efforts. One example of this comes from CASA of Adams and Broomfield Counties, which has a data committee that uses the data to explore evaluation questions and for program improvement.

This presentation will explain the protective factors supported by CASA advocacy, then describe the evaluation system and provide concrete examples of how one local CASA program, CASA of Adams and Broomfield Counties, is using these data. Participants will come away with an increased understanding of CASA and a deeper insight into how we can collectively augment protective factors to best serve children. 


10:30am - 12:30pm

Keynote & Closing

Keynote: “Self-Care During the Apocalypse”

Vu Le

It has been a rough few years. All of us are stretched to capacity. Our work remains vital, but it has been relentless. How do we take care of ourselves and one another and conserve the strength we need to advance a just and equitable world? What philosophies and practices must we unlearn? What are new ones we must adopt? The world needs us, but in order to serve it effectively, we need to prioritize our wellbeing. We will touch on these and other topics in a presentation that will likely include pictures of baby animals. 


12:30pm - 1:30pm

Grab-and-Go Lunch

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the Colorado Department of Human Services or the Colorado Deparment of Early Childhood.

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