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Speaking of Children Conference

Speaking of Children is a two-day conference at CHI Health Center Omaha including phenomenal plenary presentations and breakout sessions for law enforcement, prosecutors, CPS workers, medical providers, victim advocates, and treatment and prevention providers.

2022 Conference Agenda

View a downloadable PDF of the Conference Agenda.


 

Day 1: Thursday, April 14, 2022

7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.   Continental Breakfast
8:15 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.   Opening Ceremonies and Announcements
8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.   Plenary Presentation

Are We Making a Difference? Should I Keep Doing This Work?

Speaker: Chris Newlin, MS LPC

This powerful presentation is designed to empower those individuals who are charged with working with children and families that are connected to the child welfare system. Participants will be challenged to consider their positive impacts in their roles and how they are making a difference.

Session Type: Plenary
Track: Plenary

Objectives:

  1. Attendees will review the impact of child maltreatment on our nation’s health and economy.
  2. Attendees will recognize the diverse positive impacts of the multidisciplinary response to child abuse as found in the research literature related to outcomes.
  3. Attendees will consolidate this information to recognize the progress made in reducing child abuse in the United States.

9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.      Break
9:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.   Breakout Sessions

Why Parents Don’t Believe

Speaker: Chris Newlin, MS LPC

Parents and caregivers, when faced with emerging allegations involving the abuse of their child, are suddenly confronted with a situation for which they are poorly prepared. This is not significantly different from other situations involving parents’ reactions regarding the well-being of their children. However, the ambiguity of child abuse allegations creates heightened challenges, and this same ambiguity is also a challenge for MDT members involved in the investigation and intervention. This session will identify the difference between belief and ambivalence and how all professionals involved in child abuse cases can assist parents to be supportive and engaged with their children.

Session Type: Advanced
Track: Advocacy

Objectives:

  1. Attendees will understand the challenging competing issues affecting parent and caregiver belief of child maltreatment.
  2. Attendees will review recent research regarding the impact of parent/caregiver belief and support on various outcomes of child maltreatment.
  3. Attendees will identify innovative areas for practice development within the multidisciplinary response to child abuse as it relates to parental/caregiver belief and support.

All We Have is the 10 Year Old's Story

Speakers: Collen Brazil, MSW, LIMHP and Susan Krisko

Gathering information from a child can be a complex process where often corroborating information is more difficult to obtain. This presentation will address how to corroborate the child’s statement as well as ways to avoid common pitfalls on these cases. Participants will also learn how to deal with defense experts in court from the prosecution standpoint.

Session Type: Foundational
Track: Criminal Justice

Objectives:

  1. Participants will learn how to gather information to corroborate on a case of child sexual abuse.
  2. Participants will understand some of the common pitfalls in these investigations and how to avoid them.
  3. Participants will learn how to prosecute and testify on these cases especially when the only evidence is the child’s statement.
  4. Participants will learn how to deal with defense experts in court from the prosecution standpoint or as a rebuttal witness.

Cultural Considerations for Trauma Informed Care

Speaker: Salvador Hernandez, LICSW

This plática (conversation) will be focused on discussing cultural norms and values and how they relate to the generational well-being of families with heritage from Mexico/Central America. As services providers when we are mindful of cultural norms/values, we can better serve the needs of children and families. This plática will be facilitated based on lived and professional experience.

Session Type: Foundational
Track: Trauma

Objectives:

  1. Reflect on meaning of “trauma informed” from a cultural lens.
  2. Awareness of Connection versus Rapport/Therapeutic Alliance.
  3. Reflect on the functioning of a collective family system and challenges.
  4. Distinguish between cultural norms versus maladaptive coping strategies.
  5. Cultural values as a protective factor.

Expressive Arts and Self Care for Helping Professionals

Speaker: Betsy Funk, LCSW LIMHP MPA REAT and Jea Theis, LMHP

Betsy and Jea will provide an experiential process designed to assist helping professionals unpack stress and tension. Using Expressive Arts processes including guided meditation, art making, and creative writing processes, participants will deepen their understanding of their own and others experiences which will result in an increase in feelings of rejuvenation and relaxation.

  • Thursday AM Breakout – Exploring your professional self with SoulCollage®️
  • Thursday PM Breakout – Using the Arts to Explore your Window of Tolerance

Session Type: Foundational
Track: Self-Care

Objectives:

  1. Obtain information about the use of Expressive arts as a potential form of self-care and as a personal practice to decrease stress.
  2. Learn and engage in two to three mindfulness and self-care based Expressive Arts processes.
  3. Connect with other helping professionals through sharing and discussions.

COVID-19 Impacts on Pediatric Mental Health

Speakers: Dr. Joan Daughton, MD and Dr. Ashley Harlow, PHD

We will discuss populations at risk for increased mental health problems during the COVID-19 pandemic and literature to date on effects on pediatric mental health during the pandemic.

Session Type: Advanced
Track: Medical

Objectives:

  1. Understand populations at risk for increased mental health difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  2. Understand literature to date reporting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on pediatric mental health
  3. Understand resources, resilience-building during and after the pandemic

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.      Keynote Luncheon

A Conversation with Judge Rosemarie Aquilina

Speaker: Judge Rosemarie Aquilina

Judge Aquilina is most notable for presiding over the 2018 USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal and sentencing Larry Nassar to up to 175 years in prison.  During the sentencing, she gave a voice to more than 150 women who chose to confront their abuser face-to-face.

Session Type: Keynote
Track: Keynote


1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.      Repeat of Morning Breakout Sessions
3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.      Break
3:15 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.      Plenary Presentation

Beyond Black, The Impact of Systemic Racism on Brown and Indigenous Children and Families

Speaker: Dr. Sharon Stoolman, MD

The presentation will review the history of Indigenous people in Nebraska, Indian Residential Schools Specifically at Genoa and the lasting impact on their community and look into the experience of our Latino communities from mid-20th century to current, systemic policies and practices that have ongoing impact on them.

Session Type: Plenary
Track: Plenary

Objectives:

  1. Explore the history of indigenous and Spanish speaking children and families in Nebraska.
  2. Identify the lasting impacts of intergenerational trauma from systemic racism.
  3. Identify processes to address these disparities and improve the lives of the children in these communities.

Friday, April 15, 2022

7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.   Continental Breakfast
8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.   Plenary Presentation

The Safe & Together Model - Domestic Violence and Child Safety & Wellbeing

Speaker: Heidi Rankin

The Safe & Together Model can improve how agencies, communities, and individuals respond to domestic violence when children are involved. You will learn to apply a perpetrator pattern-based approach, partner with adult survivors, and hold perpetrators accountable for their parenting choices and behaviors of coercive control that impact the safety and wellbeing of children. You will be introduced to tools for improving assessment, engagement, documentation and interventions to move systems toward change. Learn about this perpetrator pattern, survivor strengths and child-centered approach to support domestic violence-informed practice.

View the Participant Guide for Heidi’s session.

Session Type: Plenary
Track: Plenary

Objectives:

  1. Assess for perpetrators’ patterns of coercive control.
  2. Document perpetrator’s patterns and survivors’ strengths and protective capacities
  3. Recognize the relationship between domestic violence perpetrators’ behaviors, substance abuse and mental health.

9:30 a.m. – 9:45 p.m.      Break
9:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.   Breakout Sessions

How We Arrived at Safe & Together – Douglas County, Nebraska's Journey to Systemic Change

Speakers: Katie Hansen, MA and Panel including Honorable Chad Brown, Ray Curtis, and Kaitlin Hahn

The focus of this presentation will be Douglas County (Omaha), Nebraska’s journey to identify a need for systemic change when working with child welfare cases involving domestic violence. This presentation will show how we identified: What is services are available in our community, what is working, what needs improvement, what additional considerations do we need to account for (barriers, buy in, etc.), what can we do better as a community and what we are doing to make change happen. This presentation will cover the timeline of evens in Douglas County, NE and where we are headed next.

Session Type: Advanced
Track: Advocacy

Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to identify processes used for analyzing current services, gaps in services in large communities and determining what next steps are necessary after identifying those gaps.
  2. Participants will be able to articulate ways to overcome barriers such as costs, buy in, and resources to implementing the Safe & Together Model.
  3. Participants will be able to identified ways to create next steps in implementing the Safe & Together Model based on the needs of their own community.

Stories that Matter: My mother is “crazy” (And other real life stuff that they don’t teach you in school)

Speaker: Angee Stevens, LCSW

After growing up with a mother diagnosed with Schizo-Affective Disorder and witnessing her life of marginalization and misunderstanding, Angee hopes to reframe our perception of mental health, mental illness, and provide a renewed awareness of the shared humanity connecting us all by sharing her story. This is a story about how mental health affects each and every one of us psychologically, emotionally, personally, and professionally. This story is about the importance of valuing another’s story as their truth, and using that story to move forward as a source of connection and strength, rather than finding the holes within it to weaken them. This story is a call to action for us all to move beyond the current social welfare model established within existing systems of care.

Session Type: Foundational
Track: Advocacy

Objectives:

  1. To reframe mental health: what my mom taught me about mental illness.
  2. To encourage the dignity and worth of all persons through authentic and honest interactions.
  3. To improve the quality of interpersonal interactions by understanding the power and influence behind one’s own behavior.
  4. To remind each and every person of how truly amazing they are.

Case Study: Putting the Pieces Together on a Local Sex Trafficking Ring

Speakers: Panel including Detective Lisa Horton, Detective Jeff Shelbourn, Sergeant Brett Schrage, Special Agent Chrissy Worster, Nebraska Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelli Ceraolo, FBI Agent John Hallock

In the fall of 2020, Omaha Police Detectives became aware of several parties suspected of participating in sex trafficking of minors.  After months of investigation, interviews, partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, officers were able to indict four men for suspicion of sex trafficking.  The presentation will demonstrate how the information came to light, attempts to investigate, collaboration by the different agencies, and follow the investigation through the courts. The purpose of the presentation will be to demonstrate the ability to find sex trafficking networks within a community through proactive policing strategies. Additionally, it will demonstrate the need for assistance with federal partners. It will present challenges of the investigation and prosecution of the offenders.

Session Type: Foundational
Track: Criminal Justice

Objectives:

  1. Learn the OPD’s strategy for identifying victims of sex trafficking.
  2. Identify the need for intelligence gathering.
  3. Understand where federal partners can assist with the investigation.
  4. Identify barriers to investigating a large sex trafficking investigation.
  5. Understand the prosecutor’s observations of the investigation and ability to prosecute the suspects.

Attempted Abductions: How Date on These Failed Crimes Can Help When a Child Goes Missing

Speaker: Sergeant Peter Rutherford

This will be a case review of a child pornography investigation that began with a Cyber tip line report and ended with the successful prosecution of a husband/wife. During the course of the investigation, collaboration with federal, state and local agencies led to the apprehension of the suspect, interrupting their plans to abduct a child and flee the state.

Session Type: Foundational
Track: Criminal Justice

Objectives:

  1. Value of partnering with other agencies during investigations.
  2. Basic investigative steps in internet-centric investigations.
  3. Value in training and understanding of technology in criminal investigations.

Creating Trauma-Sensitive Practices in the Education Setting

Speaker: Dr. Lisa Epp

This presentation will include research on trauma-sensitive practices including qualitative research on the perceptions of teachers, administrators, school psychologists and counselors regarding their role in creating trauma-sensitive practices in their educational setting. Participants will have an understanding of how trauma impacts the learning, behavior and social-emotional regulation of students who have had adverse childhood experiences. Participants will walk away with the knowledge of how to create trauma-sensitive practices within their contexts.

Session Type: Foundational
Track: Trauma

Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to define trauma and adversity as it relates to the “Social Ecological Theory” related to trauma and its effect on students and school professionals.
  2. Participants will have an understanding of how adverse events can have lasting effects on student’s learning, behavior, and social/emotional development.
  3. Participants will analyze various frameworks for creating and sustaining trauma-sensitive practices in their schools and classrooms.
  4. Participants will understand how to begin the process of creating trauma-sensitive practices within their classrooms and schools.

Dismantling Toxic Masculinity to Disrupt Sex Trafficking

Speakers: Stefania Agliano, LMSW and Bryan Hall II, LCSW

Many of the discussions, prevention/intervention programming, as well as front line assessments are designed to target either the victim (survivor) of sex trafficking or the buyer by addressing demand through legal interventions or educational programming. The missing component in the fight to eradicate victims of trafficking is a lack of dialogue on services for the potential trafficker. While females can be and are traffickers, this workshop is specifically focused on male perpetrators. Workshop participants will be given an overview on the importance of working with young men and boys and insights into the struggle those who become involved in the crime of trafficking may face, including but not limited to, the mass marketing of hyper-masculinity, socioeconomic inequalities and institutionalized oppression. This workshop will allow participants to critically reflect further on how they assess trafficking cases potentially providing a new means of intervention and victim services to explore. By discussing the trafficker as someone needing services in addition to victims and buyers we position ourselves on the national level to make systemic changes for young men and boys to enhance their well-being while potentially eliminating the market facilitator, the trafficker, the pimp. We firmly believe that by helping our young men and boys to build a healthier sense of self we can potentially save our young women and girls from being victims of exploitation, trafficking and other forms of violence.

Session Type: Foundational
Track: Advocacy

Objectives:

  1. Identify the complexities youth face that may lead them to trafficking.
  2. Articulate the impact that mass media has on young men, their development of the idea of masculinity and its correlation to exploiting victims for trafficking related behaviors.
  3. List the techniques that could be used to connect with youth who are caught up in the crime of human trafficking, either as a victim or a perpetrator.

Expressive Arts and Self Care for Helping Professionals

Speaker(s): Betsy Funk, LCSW LIMHP MPA REAT and Jea Theis, LMHP

Betsy and Jea will provide an experiential process designed to assist helping professionals unpack stress and tension. Using Expressive Arts processes including guided meditation, art making, and creative writing processes, participants will deepen their understanding of their own and others experiences which will result in an increase in feelings of rejuvenation and relaxation.

  • Friday AM Breakout – The Doorway Effect
  • Friday PM Breakout – Exploring Connections

Session Type: Foundational
Track: Self-Care

Objectives:

  1. Obtain information about the use of Expressive arts as a potential form of self-care and as a personal practice to decrease stress.
  2. Learn and engage in two to three mindfulness and self-care based Expressive Arts processes.
  3. Connect with other helping professionals through sharing and discussions.

Putting on Your Own Oxygen Mask First

Speaker: Holly Hickson

This presentation will discuss the topic of compassion fatigue in human service professionals experiencing secondary trauma.  Practical strategies and resources for self care such as mindfulness, journaling, reflective supervision and integrative health will be discussed.

Session Type: Foundational
Track: Self-Care

Objectives:

  1. Defining compassion fatigue and secondary trauma.
  2. Building a tool kit of options and a resource list for human service professionals.

Psychiatric Treatment of Children and Adolescents with PTSD

Speakers: Dr. Matthew Dobbertin D.O.

Psychiatric treatment practices of Children and Adolescents diagnosed with PTSD with consideration of AACAP guidelines, clinical experience, and current translational research.

Session Type: Advanced
Track: Medical

Objectives:

  1. Understanding accepted standards of care for identifying and treating PTSD in children and adolescents.
  2. Understanding pitfalls to that treatment including limited referral resources, abnormal prescribing practices, comorbid conditions and unique symptom presentation.
  3. Understand emerging translational research in Psychiatric treatment.

The Neurobiology of Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Speaker:  Dr. Stuart White, Ph.D.

The presentation will cover the basics of PTSD and trauma, and provide an overview of the endocrine system and the central nervous system in PTSD and trauma. Implications for behavior, social functioning, and development will be covered.

Session Type: Advanced
Track: Medical

Objectives:

  1. Understand the basics of what trauma/PTSD does in the brain.
  2. Understand the basics of what trauma/PTSD does in the body.
  3. Understand how this influences behavior, social functioning and development.

11:15 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.      Lunch (on your own)
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.         Repeat of Morning Breakout Sessions
2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.         Break
2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.         Plenary Presentation

Connecting with Purpose

Speaker: Thom Singer, CSP

As we engage with people, it is paramount to remember our relationships with people are often unique.  We cannot communicate the same with everyone we encounter.  Each of us is complex and complicated, and we must remember that the people we interact with at work, in our social lives, from our faith communities, etc… are all also unique people. Thus we must communicate differently.  Memorizing an elevator pitch or treating each person the same will not help us build relationships. Curiosity, respect, and understanding is how we build long-term and mutually beneficial relationships.  In a world that is dominated by social media, we must move beyond likes, links, shares, and follows.  Our goal is not to collect links, but to build “Uncommon Connections” with each individual whom pass in our life’s journey.

Session Type: Plenary
Track: Plenary

Objectives:

  1. Attendees will learn the meaning of connection through verbalization and how to choose the words used when addressing a victim of crime.
  2. Understanding pitfalls to that treatment including limited referral resources, abnormal prescribing practices, comorbid conditions, and unique symptom presentation.
  3. Understand emerging translational research in Psychiatric treatment to those suffering from PTSD upon having been victimized.

Register for the Conference
Cost to attend the conference is $300. The deadline to register is April 7. Please contact training@projectharmony.com with questions about the conference.


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We wish to thank you for your hospitality and the wonderful program and tour of Project Harmony. We are so fortunate to have an organization acting on the behalf of our children with such outstanding enthusiasm and dedication.

- Rotary Club of Omaha Northwest

Thank you so much for coming to Children’s and speaking to our staff. Your talk on “Understanding Poverty” was excellent, and I could see “wheels turning” as some staff members commented on simple ways their interactions might make a difference for children and parents.

- Patty Carrell, CMSW

I have felt that my input has been highly valued and respected when it comes to doing my job, and that is something that speaks volumes to the working environment here at Project Harmony.

- Brenda Jewell

We began collaborating with the Project Harmony through their Connections program last year, and we’ve continued the partnership. Connections represents an extremely valuable partnership and an opportunity to provide our students with a bridge to mental health services.

- Papillion La Vista Community Schools

Our experience and partnership with Project Harmony/Connections has been fantastic! It is a comfort knowing we have a partner who can connect our students and families with the appropriate resources in times of crisis or trauma.

- Millard Public Schools

This shadowing experience actually made me very interested in this field. One aspect that helped me narrow my choice of careers is the environment that Project Harmony had. It was very upbeat, cheerful and bright.

- UNMC High School Alliance Program – Student Journal

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Project Harmony for planning and delivering professional development to our 70 counselors, social workers and community counselors. We feel fortunate to have such a valuable resource in our community to partner with.

- Millard Public Schools

You have a top rate program – really national quality. I’m totally impressed.

- Lisa Fontes

At our last D2 Center Board meeting, I was describing the training and professional development we provide for our staff. At the top of the list was Project Harmony. Please know that you are providing an invaluable service to nonprofits in our community.

- Greg Emmel

Congratulations on the great media coverage of your Stewards class at Project Harmony on WOWT. You did a great job articulating the importance of prevention, and Susan was amazing too. Thank you so much for your partnership and all the important work you are doing.

- Cindy McElhinney – Darkness to Light

Just wanted to know that you made a difference in my life, and I will be using that momentum to make a difference in the lives of others. You are truly a rock star and a role model for me. Thank you for a new life I’m getting the chance to live.

- Anonymous

Many children through my caseload have received a backpack generously donated to the Project Harmony Triage Center. I have witnessed many faces light up when given the opportunity to pick out a new backpack, and I am very grateful for the generosity of the Junior League.

- DHHS – Children & Family Services

I have never felt as valued at other organizations like I do at Project Harmony. I really feel that the culture of a working environment is incredibly important. If an employee feels respected, valued and supported, that person will likely give more to fulfill the mission.

- Javier Castellote

Nick and Javier were great teachers and role players. It gave us an opportunity to see how someone in that situation would have reacted to our questions. They did a great job at showing us the difference between sympathy and empathy.

- Anonymous

I was able to shadow Mr. Nick Zadina. He was in charge of dealing with abused kids and help them. I am thankful to know all the information I learned during shadowing because it was eye opening.

- UNMC High School Alliance Program – Student Journal

The experience at Project Harmony was a deepening reminder of empathy that will be vital in my career as a nurse. I felt my perspective was widened on how others think, especially when discussing the assumptions we make.

- Anonymous

I didn’t know how many people work at Project Harmony, so I drew a lot to show how much Project Harmony means to me!

- Project Harmony Client

As difficult as a removal is on a child, the backpack they receive at Project Harmony provides a sense of belonging and hope. It truly is amazing something that seems so simple can change the perspective and shine light on these children.

- DHHS – Children & Family Services

Great leadership for a wonderful cause with outstanding long-term goals. Keep on doing all the good you do.

- Bill & Jean O’Conner

Project Harmony is the reason I started my journey in college. I just finished my associates and I'm going for my bachelors now in Child Protection and Juvenile Justice. Y'all helped my daughter back in early 2013 and I knew what I wanted to do with my life — help children.

- LaLa Ann

A young lady who works in our field told me that she loved what we do here at Project Harmony — she had been to Project Harmony seven years ago for a forensic interview. She said her positive experience was the biggest reason she is doing the work that she is today.

- Trainee

I found out that my foster son is going to have a forensic interview here at Project Harmony soon. It’s been interesting being on the other side of things and feeling so reassured that the child I care so deeply about is in very caring and capable hands.

- Jessica Kroeker

Nick demonstrated how one person could impact a huge group of student nurses by just attending his presentation. He gave me the reason, the courage to act, and the knowledge how to save victims that I will face in my future nursing career.

- Anonymous

I recently attended the Testifying Training course. Since that class I have been subpoenaed three times, and I had to testify at each hearing. Without this class I would have been less than prepared and too nervous to be credible. Thank you so much!

- Jenny Lewis

You are part of the solution.

The cycle of abuse does not have to continue, but we can’t end it alone. Anyone has the power to be someone who makes our community a safe place for all children.

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