Webinar Series: Families Know Best – Listen and Learn, Seen and Heard

Beginning on June 1, 2023, the Office for Justice Initiatives’ Child Welfare Court Improvement Project will host a two-part virtual series designed to provide information on protecting family integrity and unity.

These webinars are open to all UCS personnel and non-UCS practitioners, and they are specifically geared towards Family Court professionals, including judges, coordinators, clerks, attorneys, child welfare agency staff, Tribal Nation partners, peer advocates, treatment providers, mental health specialists, and other service providers.

Each 2 ½ hour session will be CLE eligible. The entire webinar series is appropriate for newly admitted and experienced attorneys.


THURSDAY JUNE 1ST, 2023: 12:00-2:30 PM

Presenters: Christine Bruno. Esq., Josh Corbo, Miriam Mack, Esq.,
and Dr. Tricia Stephens

Family Preservation – This program will provide a legal framework of what federal and state laws require, highlight the perspective of what families need to stay together in their own homes as a family unit, and identify ways to help shrink “the system” and mitigate the harms of government intervention into families, by eliminating unnecessary and harmful interventions.

Presenters: Professor Dorothy Roberts and Shereen White

History and Harms of Removals and Family Separation – This program will discuss the individual, collective, and intergenerational (historical) traumas that the system has perpetrated on different groups over time, demonstrating how the system was created to separate families, and the need to urgently transform it to preserve families and cultural integrity. The program will highlight racial equity issues and implicit bias using data and best practices.

Presenters: Angela Olivia Burton, Esq., Blessins Brown, Jenny Stansfield, Josh Corbo, and Joyce McMillan

This last half hour of the program will include a roundtable/panel discussion with key takeaways from people with lived experience expertise.

THURSDAY JUNE 15TH, 2023: 12:00-2:30 PM

Presenters: Coral Mrozik, Deonna Jones, Larry Smith, Jr., and Nadirra Hakeem

This program will begin with a roundtable discussion moderated by Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson between people with lived child welfare system experience about what is most helpful and effective for successful and sustainable reunifications.

Presenters: Honorable Jacqueline Deane and Christine Keisel, Esq.

Effective Efforts – This program will examine reasonable efforts and make the case for a more transparent system using family-led service planning with concrete steps and supported goals focused on the issues surrounding safety and reunification. What can WE do to return the child home today/achieve permanency today?

Presenters: Honorable Joan Kohout, Amanda Oren, Esq., AFC Steve Weisbeck, Esq., and Commissioner Thalia Wright

Best Practices for Successful Reunifications – This program will be moderated by Coral Mrozik and will highlight best practices and recommendations including timely assignment of counsel, using preliminary court conferences, SMART service planning, team-decision meetings, family team meetings, and quality permanency hearings. The program will also examine the foster caregiver role in partnering with parents as a resource to them and the importance of using trauma informed care and solution-focused strategies by practitioners.