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Engaging Child Welfare, Education, and Judicial Stakeholders at the State and Local Levels

Monday, April 9, 2012, from 3:00 to 4:30 PM EST

This free teleconference/webinar was the first in a series being offered to State Team Members/participants in the Child Welfare, Education and the Courts: A Collaboration to Strengthen Educational Successes of Children and Youth in Foster Care meeting and their invited guests. Sixto Cancel moderated the Youth Perspectives Alumnae Panel at the federal meeting, and welcomed participants to this webinar and offered a youth perspective on the work being done to strengthen educational stability for children and youth in care. Annie Blackledge discussed strategies and background work that can be used to increase motivation for collaboration when engaging child welfare, education, and judicial stakeholders at the state and local levels, and suggested resources to support these efforts. Representatives from Nevada then shared their experience in engaging stakeholders and planning and implementing their State-level summit held in February 2012. The webinar was moderated by Taffy Compain, National Foster Care Specialist, Children’s Bureau, ACF, HHS, who played a lead role in planning the federal meeting in November 2011. The webinar closed with a question and answer period.

Listening Time: 87 minutes

  • Webinar Moderator: Taffy Compain, National Foster Care Specialist, Capacity Building Division, Children’s Bureau
  • Sixto Cancel, Youth Presenter
    Sixto Cancel first entered foster care when he was 11 months old, and moved through several foster homes during his childhood. Growing up in foster care in Connecticut, Sixto sought out leadership roles such as chair of the Southwestern Connecticut “A Voice to be Heard” Youth Leadership Board. In his time as the chair of the “A Voice to be Heard” Board, Sixto participated in discussions with the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families and other agency leaders around reform of the Connecticut foster care system. Sixto designed, secured funding for, and implemented a pilot program called Stellar Works – a program to prepare children in foster care for post-secondary education. On the national level, Sixto has also served as a Jim Casey Young Fellow. Sixto contributed his own perspective to the national and state-level conversation about youth transitioning out of the foster care system. He has spoken on panels at Jim Casey Convening, the CFED Assets Learning Conference, and Harvard Law School. He has been featured in articles for the Hartford Courant, Connecticut Post, Huffington Post, CNN, and NPR’s Tell Me More. He is also on the advisory board for the American Institutes Research on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and Allied youth. Sixto Cancel is currently a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University and supports himself. 
  • Annie Blackledge, Casey Family Programs Fellow, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational & Adult Education
    Annie Blackledge joined Casey Family Programs in January 2011 as a fellow with the U.S. Department of Education. She is currently on a leave of absence from her position as the program supervisor for dropout reduction with the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. In this position she was responsible for the development and oversight of a statewide dropout reduction grant program which demonstrated significant gains in the academic achievement of vulnerable students, the creation of the Dropout Early Warning and Intervention Data System, and the staffing of a state interagency legislative workgroup. She guided successful dropout reduction policy and practice initiatives, including the development and passage of several pieces of legislation that led to the development of a statewide dropout re-engagement program and state law which defines vulnerable student populations who should receive priority for services. Blackledge has over 15 years of experience in education and youth services, and an extensive background in serving vulnerable students.

Nevada State Team Presenters:

  • Katherine R. Malzahn-Bass, Coordinator, Court Improvement Program, Administrative Office of the Courts, Supreme Court of Nevada
  • Karen Stephens, Education Programs Professional, Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Special Education, Elementary and Secondary Education, and School Improvement Programs, Nevada Department of Education
  • Tom Murtha, Second Judicial District Court, Family Division, Program Coordinator, Educational Liaison
  • Chief Justice Nancy M. Saitta
    Chief Justice Saitta was elected to the Supreme Court in 2006. She began her judicial career a decade earlier when she was appointed as a Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge in October, 1996. Two years later, she was elected a judge at the Eighth Judicial District Court. At the Supreme Court, she is chair of the Judicial Public Information Committee and the Nevada Court Improvement Program, and co-chair of the Commission on Statewide Juvenile Justice Reform. Prior to taking the bench, she was a senior deputy attorney general where she served as the Children’s Advocate for the State of Nevada. In addition to being an attorney and judge, Chief Justice Saitta has embraced a role as a teacher throughout much of her adult life. She taught at Wayne State University in the Department of Criminal Justice and taught litigation courses at the American Institute for Paralegal Studies. As chair of the Judicial Public Information Committee, Chief Justice Saitta was instrumental in expanding Law Day activities in Nevada, including the creation of Law Day Live, an annual high-tech, interactive Internet forum that links courthouses through video technology and allows public participation through social media.
Meeting Materials and Resources

Webinar Materials

Nevada Education Summit Materials

Washington State Resources

  • State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Foster Care Youth: Improving Educational Outcomes
    Foster Care Youth, housed within OSPI’s Student Support Department, maintains a resource repository for students, educators, foster parents, and social workers to better understand and provide guidance about the unique circumstances surrounding students who live in foster care and attend public schools. In Washington State, over 10,000 school-age students live in foster care. This website includes the following sections: Publications and Other Resources; Local Agreements; Regional Contacts; and, Laws and Guidance.
  • The Heart of Learning: Compassion, Resiliency, and Academic Success
    This handbook for teachers was written and compiled by OSPI and Western Washington University staff. It contains valuable information that will be helpful to teachers on a daily basis as they work with students whose learning has been adversely impacted by trauma in their lives. (September 2009)

Additional Resources