The second webinar in this series offered a virtual panel that addressed myths and challenges in permanency work. Facilitators identified several common misconceptions about permanency and obstacles to achieving permanency. Presenters provided strategies to address these misconceptions and overcome obstacles and shared how these strategies are being used in their State, county, or program. This session was practice focused and presenters provided examples of what child welfare workers might do or say in working with children, youth, and families. Presenters covered a range of practice areas related to permanence – from the importance of infant and early childhood mental health in the context of caregiving relationships, to finding permanent connections for non-minors in extended foster care, to building relationships between biological and foster parents. Benjamin Muhammad offered reflections on permanency as a former foster child.
Facilitators: Dr. Gerald Mallon, Executive Director, National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections; Benjamin Muhammad, former foster youth and current Information Services Assistant, National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections.
Presenters: Chauncey Strong, Foster Care Supervisor and Foster Care Alumnus; Joaniko Kohchi, Therapist, Infant-Parent Project, Early Childhood Center, Einstein College of Medicine; Branden Murray, Regional Placement Supervisor, NW Region, New Mexico; Kristi Cullers, Foster Parent Liaison, New Mexico; Cynthia Billey, Esq., Director, Foster Care Adoption Program, Alliance for Children’s Rights.
Dr. Gerald P. Mallon, Executive Director, NRPCFC
Gerald P. Mallon, DSW, is the Julia Lathrop Professor of Child Welfare and Executive Director of the NRCPFC at Hunter College in New York City. For more than 38 years, Dr. Mallon has been a child welfare practitioner, advocate, educator, and researcher. Dr. Mallon was one of the first child welfare professionals in the country to research, write about, and create programs for LGBTQ youth in child welfare settings. Dr. Mallon is the Senior Editor of the professional journal, Child Welfare and the author or editor of more than twenty-three books. His most recent publication, Child welfare for the twenty-first century: A Handbook of practices, policies, and programs, will be published by Columbia University Press in August, 2014. In his role as the Executive Director of the NRCPFC, Dr. Mallon has traveled to all 50 states, many territories and numerous tribes to deliver technical assistance on a range of child welfare related issues. Dr. Mallon has lectured and worked extensively throughout the United States, and internationally in Australia, Canada, Cuba, Indonesia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Dr. Mallon earned his doctorate in Social Welfare from the City University of New York at Hunter College, holds an MSW from Fordham University and a BSW from Dominican College. Dr. Mallon has been a foster parent and is a parent by adoption.
Benjamin Muhammad, Information Services, NRCPFC & Former Foster Youth
Benjamin Muhammad is an alumnus of the foster care system in New York City. He was placed into care at birth and experienced three different placements, the last one resulting in a lasting adoption. Starting in 2011, he began working with Foster Club, where he spent several weeks serving as an All-Star Intern. As an Intern he testified on Capitol Hill, presented at a conference in Italy on foster care, led and facilitated youth groups, spoke on transition panels, and presented workshops on an array of topics regarding care. Currently, Benjamin is serving as the Information Services Assistant at the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) where he helps to provides on- and off-site Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA), to support States, Territories and Tribes. He is also a contributing author in the book, The Children’s Bureau: Shaping a Century of Child Welfare Practices, Programs, and Politics. Benjamin is an undergraduate student at Hunter College, studying Social Justice & Advocacy. View A Family Mosaic, the NRCPFC Digital stories created by Benjamin and his family members, to learn more about their experiences.
Chauncey Strong, Foster Care Supervisor and Foster Care Alumnus
Chauncey Strong, originally from Newark NJ, earned his BA degree in Social Work from Elizabeth City State University, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, in 1991 and his MSW from Norfolk State University, in Norfolk, Virginia in 1993. Chauncey is currently a Foster Care Supervisor with Fairfax County Department of Family Services in Fairfax, Virginia and supervises the work of the Permanency and Life Skills Unit. He has worked for 21 years in the child welfare field. He is the Immediate Past Board Chair of Foster Care Alumni of America, a trainer, motivational speaker, and a committed advocate for children and families. Chauncey has dedicated his career to helping to improve the outcomes of children and families involved in the child welfare system.
Joaniko Kohchi, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist
Joaniko Kohchi, MPhil, LCSW, is an infant and early childhood mental health specialist who has worked with underserved families, in various capacities and localities, for 20 years. She completed formal training in trauma-informed modalities and interventions for infants and young children at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, focusing increasingly on families involved with the child welfare system in New Orleans; Portland, ME; Knoxville, TN; Irvington, NJ, and currently the Bronx, NY. She is a supervising clinician at the Early Childhood Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, specializing in children with developmental differences and trauma exposure, and at the Infant-Parent Court Project, a foundation-funded research project focusing on child-welfare involved families with children under three years of age.
Cynthia Billey, Director, Foster Children’s Adoption Program, Alliance for Children’s Rights
Cynthia J. Billey, JD, is the Director of the Foster Children’s Adoption Program at the Alliance for Children’s Rights. She joined the Alliance in 2001 after 11 years practicing health care law at Konowiecki & Rank and government contracts litigation at McKenna & Cuneo. In her position, Ms. Billey represents families adopting children from the Los Angeles County foster care system and supervises a large network of pro bono attorneys in this work. She collaborates with the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services and Juvenile Court to facilitate adoptions and also works on systemic reform. Recently, Ms. Billey participated in the California Department of Social Services statewide committee implementing a new law allowing for the adoption of non-minor dependents, and has partnered for eight years with the L.A. County Probation Department on the first-ever adoptions of probation youth in the nation. Ms. Billey has been a leader in the success of National Adoption Day and was part of a litigation team that won a lawsuit to protect the benefits of adopted children with developmental disabilities. She received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Branden Murray, Regional Placement Supervisor, NM
Branden Murray has worked for the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department for over 19 years. She is currently a Regional Placement Supervisor with a focus in Adoptions and Foster Care. She is a certified trainer for foster and adoptive parents, as well as for the home study process in New Mexico. She has Bachelor's Degree in Social Work from New Mexico State University.
Kristi Cullers, Foster Parent Liaison and Certified Trainer, NM
Kristi L McLain Cullers is an independent consultant working as foster parent liaison and certified trainer in the State of New Mexico. She works closely with the Children, Youth and Families Department on various initiatives to improve foster care. Ms. Cullers provides leadership to the board of directors for the state of New Mexico foster and adoptive parent association (LOEFAF) and currently serves as a Trustee on the NM Children’s Trust Fund Board. She has over 13 years of experience in the child welfare practice and administration field providing support services to foster and adoptive families in New Mexico to further develop knowledge and awareness for the foster care community. She is very passionate for a shared sense of purpose to provide resources and programs for those involved in foster care with a deep commitment and focus to improving the quality of care working directly with families fostering in New Mexico.
While open to all child welfare audiences, this session may be particularly useful to child welfare practitioners (front line workers, foster care and adoption workers, case managers and others working directly with children, youth, and families), child welfare supervisors, Foster Care Program Managers, Adoption Managers, Independent Living Coordinators, and families and resource parents.
Webinar Materials and Additional Resources
Presentation 1: Building Positive Relationships Between Biological Families and Resource Families
Presentation 2: Infant Mental Health and Attachment in Foster Care
Presentation 3: Permanency for Older Youth – Legal Perspective
Presentation 4: Permanency for Older Youth – Practice Perspective; Working with Kin