In the final event in the National Foster Care Month webinar series, Joe Bock, Deputy Associate Commissioner, Children’s Bureau, discussed specific efforts of the Administration to support children and youth in foster care in achieving permanency. This webinar highlighted the work of two five-year Children’s Bureau grantee projects: the Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) Grant awarded to Illinois and the Diligent Recruitment Grant awarded to Missouri. Presenters from Illinois discussed the Illinois Trauma Focus Model for Reducing Long-Term Foster Care. This grant will support the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in demonstrating and taking to scale statewide an evidence-based trauma intervention to promote more timely achievement of permanency among youth, ages 11 to 16, who have reached their two year anniversary in foster care. Presenters from Missouri discussed Extreme Recruitment. Extreme Recruitment is an innovative diligent recruitment program carried out by the Missouri Department of Social Services that aims to improve permanency outcomes for children in custody in St Louis, Missouri, and surrounding Counties.
Dana Weiner, Ph.D. has served on the faculty of the Mental Health Services & Policy Program at Northwestern University since 2001 and as Senior Policy Advisor to the Director of the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services since 2008. Dr. Weiner is the developer of the Statewide Provider Database (SPD) and the model for improving access to resources using Geographical Information Systems Data. The SPD, a tool used by caseworkers to identify local resources, has advanced the Department’s ability to use geographical information in understanding the availability of resources, overcoming barriers to accessibility, and contracting more efficiently and effectively for services. Dr. Weiner’s research has focused on evaluating the implementation of evidence-based approaches to treating trauma, including TF-CBT, SPARCS, and TARGET among the child welfare and juvenile justice populations in Illinois, and more broadly on utilizing data to inform decision making at the practice & systems levels. She currently serves as the Evaluation Liaison in a large federally funded trial of a psychoeducational trauma model for improving stability and outcomes of foster care placements. Dr. Weiner obtained a Bachelor’s Degree from Cornell University in 1992 and a Doctorate from Northwestern in 1999. In 2011 she was appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to serve on the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, and in 2013 was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Child and Family Services Advisory Council.
Jennifer O’Brien is the PII Project Coordinator and CANS Implementation Coordinator working for Illinois Department of Children and Family Services on contract through Northwestern University. Jennifer has experience implementing a number of DCFS programs including the Integrated Assessment Program and Statewide Learning Collaborative Training Program. Jennifer also acts as Administrator for the IDCFS System of Care Program (SOC), Clinical Intervention for Placement Preservation (CIPP), and Statewide Provider Database (SPD) for the Division of Clinical Practice and Development.
Dr. Larry Small, a licensed clinical psychologist (Psy.D), serves as Deputy Director for the Division of Clinical Practice and Professional Development. Larry began his tenure with the Department in 1997 as the program administrator for the Department’s statewide Psychological Assessment and Consultation Program. Over the years, Larry has played an integral role in the creation and development of the Department’s front-end Integrated Assessment and multi-disciplinary Child and Youth Investment Teams. In 2003, Dr. Small drafted the first national child welfare practice guide and policy for Department staff and community professionals serving our Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (GLBTQ) youth. As Associate Deputy Director for the Office of Behavioral Health, Larry led programmatic responsibility for infusing the Department’s Family-Centered, Trauma-Informed, Strength-based Practice Model to all placement and intact child welfare staff through implementation of the Learning Collaborative and Field Support Programs.
Amy Martin is the state Permanency Program Manager in the state of Missouri. She has over 20 years of experience in child welfare practice and coordination. As the Permanency Program Manager, Ms. Martin provides leadership on foster care, adoption and older youth initiatives. Ms. Martin was the Project Director for the Extreme Recruitment project funded from 2008 to 2013 by an Adoption Opportunities/Diligent Recruitment Grant from the Children’s Bureau.
Melanie Scheetz and her husband are proud adoptive parents of two children, ages 17 and 15. Melanie has 25 years of non-profit management experience in the areas of administration and development. She joined the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition as its Executive Director in 1999. During the past 15 years, the Coalition has recruited more than 1,150 new foster/adoptive families, and found adoptive homes for more than 300 hard-to-place children. Under her guidance, the agency developed the groundbreaking programs, Extreme Recruitment® and 30 Days to FamilyTM. Melanie has been honored with the North American Council on Adoptable Children’s 2006 “National Adoption Advocate” award; the 2007 Congressional “Angels in Adoption” award; and the 2008 “Women of the Well” award. She has a B.S. from Miami University.
Lori Ross has been a foster/adoptive parent since 1985, and has cared for more than 400 foster children since that time. Through birth, foster care and adoption, Lori and her husband Randy are the parents of twenty-eight children ranging in age from 2 to 35, and the grandparents of thirteen. Lori holds a degree in psychology, and has completed thousands of hours of additional training in issues related to the special needs of abused and neglected children. Lori has worked with the Missouri Children’s Division as a teaching foster parent for twenty-eight years and is one of the founders of Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association (MFCAA), a support and advocacy organization for foster and adoptive families. Lori serves as the agency’s President and CEO, a position she’s held for fourteen years. Lori has been the driving force in determining the agencies core values, mission, and programs and services. Lori has grown the organization, even during the economic recession, from a support group to a successful non-profit organization with a seven figure annual budget and more than 40 employees. In addition to her work with MFCAA, Lori has worked with the North American Council on Adoptable Children as a consultant in their Community Champions Network, providing child welfare services in the states of Texas, Colorado and Ohio. Lori has received numerous recognitions, locally and nationally, for her work including the Angels in Adoption Award in 2008 from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, and the 2006 Adoption Activist Award from the North American Council on Adoptable Children in 2006. Lori participates in numerous child welfare related task forces and boards, and has recently been appointed by the Director of the Department of Social Services and the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court as the Co Chair for the Missouri Task Force on Children’s Justice. Lori currently serves on two national child welfare boards, the HRC’s All Children-All Families Board, and she was recently recruited to the Board of Directors of the North American Council on Adoptable Children.
While open to all audiences, this session may be particularly useful to Child Welfare Administrators, Central and Regional Office staff, and Child Welfare Program Managers (foster care, adoption, independent living, etc.), as well as judges and others involved with efforts by the courts to achieve permanency for children and youth.
Webinar Materials and Additional Resources