This is the second session of a two-part advocacy training during SPARK 2023. This training will equip participants with the information and skills to effectively participate in Social Current’s Hill Day, immediately following the conference, Oct. 18. This session is required for those participating in Hill Day, and all SPARK 2023 participants are invited to join.

This second training session will focus on advanced advocacy strategies, equipping participants with the skills to navigate policymaking and advocate for their causes.

The session will cover the following topics:

This training overlaps with Session D Workshops and part of lunch.

View Part 1 of the training.


Blair Abelle-Kiser
Senior Director of Government Affairs
Social Current

Derry Kiernan
Field Mobilization & Policy Manager
Social Current

Healing is the gathering of resources from within a person, their family (however they define that), and their community. The children, families, and adults we work with are not the only ones who are in need of healing and compassion. Often, it is us healers and compassionate caregivers that have the hardest time asking for help or recognizing when we are burned out. Sometimes we think that we shouldn’t struggle if we’re the helper or that it’s a sign of weakness to be burned out. This workshop is designed to squash all those myths and to get you back to taking care of yourself, so that you can best be equipped to take care of others!

The primary goals of this workshop are to nonjudgmentally learn the root causes of compassion fatigue and identify them within ourselves, understand how that impacts the work we do, and to both practice and develop a wellness plan to combat the effects of burnout. Additionally, participants will be able to learn how to scale their own level of fatigue and common techniques that are inexpensive and simple to utilize to minimize the effects of this burnout.

The format will include activities such as fatigue scales and relaxation techniques, as well as time for Q&A. This session will look to normalize the reality of compassion fatigue in helping professions and provide an introductory way for individuals to manage the challenges associated in working with individuals whose needs are so great.

Ultimately, by coming together to demystify the real experience of burnout, hopefully we can begin to be impacted less by the unnecessary shame. None of us are above needing help and the sooner we all recognize that, the sooner we all start feeling better.

Learning Objectives


Robert Benson Sanoshy
Director/Therapist; Instructor
The Balanced Cairn

Bias lives everywhere. It lives in each of us, in the teams we work in, the organizations we work for, and the systems around us. It impacts our lives, communities, and workplaces. Taking action to disrupt the impact of bias on decision making is an increasing priority in the child welfare system and human services fields. But implicit bias training alone has been shown to be inadequate at addressing bias in decision making.

AWAKEN is a practice for conscious decision making that provides actionable steps to take child welfare professionals working in a fast-paced, emotionally charged environment from automatic, bias-based thinking to values-based critical thinking.

How individuals and organizations navigate bias and perspective sharing affects organizational culture, and that’s where mindful organizing comes in. Mindful organizing is a team-based practice that allows teams to manage complexity and bias in decision making (Sutcliffe, 2011). AWAKEN provides teams with mindful organizing strategies to co-conspire against biases in ourselves, systems, and communities. AWAKEN uncovers the critical consciousness to make equitable decisions that foster safety, trust, and belonging. It helps us identify bias at all levels and its impact on our decision making, so we can call out systemic biases (racism/sexism/heterosexism/ableism) to advocate for social justice and system transformation. It also helps us call-in cognitive biases, (fundamental attribution error/hindsight/ severity bias) before critical decisions are made. 

AWAKEN is being implemented across the South Carolina Department of Social Services child welfare system. It can be found in new caseworker and experienced caseworker trainings that give professionals actionable strategies to dismantle bias, strengthen teaming, and encourage multi-perspective thinking at critical decision points.

The National Partnership for Child Safety, supported by Casey Family Programs and the University of Kentucky Center for Innovation in Population Health, is implementing AWAKEN in advanced trainings for critical incident reviewers in over 30 public child welfare jurisdictions. Aligned with safety science, AWAKEN is an emerging best practice confirming blameless, supportive inquiry to learn from fatalities/near fatalities, and leveraging learning to inform system transformation.

This presentation covers nearly all of the SPARK 2023 areas of focus: Brain Science; Innovative Programs and Services; Workforce Resilience and Leadership; and EDI, Belonging, and Justice.

Learning Objectives


Christina Rosato
Affinita Consulting, LLC

Dr. Shaneé Moore
Child Welfare Training Director
South Carolina Department of Social Services

Santana Jones
Associate Policy Analyst
Center for Innovation in Population Health at the University of Kentucky

Transforming the modern landscape of research and practice related to child- and family well-being requires innovative and meaningful partnerships between researchers and communities. This workshop will provide expertise related to designing and carrying out high-quality program planning and evaluation efforts that pay attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) aspects and socially just planning methods.

We will also help agency leaders, funders, and evaluators better attend to DEI concepts as they involve community members and people with lived expertise in their planning and evaluation activities. We will provide sample requests for proposals that illustrate how to build some of these concepts into actual funding announcements and a funder’s checklist of key dimensions to consider.

Learning Objectives


Julie Collins
Vice President of Practice Excellence
Child Welfare League of America

Sandra Killet
We All Rise

Peter J. Pecora
Managing Director, Research Services
Casey Family Programs
Professor, School of Social Work
University of Washington

Did you know that the first impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is on the development of healthy executive function and self-regulation skills in 3-5 year olds? From late 2019-2021, three members of Social Current’s original Change in Mind brain science learning cohort joined forces to pilot home visiting and parenting group strategies to buffer children and caregivers against ACEs and toxic stress. With support from the Harvard Center on the Developing Child-Frontiers of Innovation, the three Change in Mind sites, the Institute for Child & Family Well-Being (Children’s Wisconsin), Children and Families First of Delaware, and The Family Partnership (TFP), came together to conduct rapid cycle, COVID-safe pilots of TFPs innovative Executive Functioning Across GenerationsTM curriculum. This session will discuss the results and learnings, implications for early childhood and parent support policy and practice, as well as how we are each continuing to innovate in the brain science space.

Learning Objectives


John Till
Senior VP of Strategy & Innovation
The Family Partnership

Andrea Miller
Manager, Grants & Quality Excellence
Children & Families First of Delaware

Dianne Haulcy
President and CEO
The Family Partnership

Gabriel McGaughey
Director of Child Well-Being
Children’s Wisconsin Community Services

Kirstin Olson
Children & Families First

Becoming COA accredited offers human service organizations professional recognition for meeting the highest standards in quality service delivery while providing clients with an appropriate tool for effectively evaluating service providers. Organizations that achieve accreditation have reached beyond the minimum licensing standards and made a long-term commitment to strong management, program consistency, outcome measurements, and continuous improvement throughout.

There are ways for an organization to get the most out of its accredited status, including promoting accreditation internally and externally, technology and data protection, fundraising and grant opportunities, and more.

While there are some more obvious benefits of accreditation that can drive revenue and reduce costs, there are also various foundational ideas that one may not have considered. Standards that address key emergency preparedness and response issues as well as human resources management, safety, and security can all be applied to enhance operational efficiencies. Further, being accredited can increase credibility and boost an organization’s reputation to help expand the referral base, attract individuals looking for services, and recruit and retain quality staff.

Learning Objectives


Jennifer Flowers
Founder & CEO
Accreditation Guru

Workplace health is tied to reduced turnover, increased productivity, and ultimately client outcomes. In the post-pandemic “Great Resignation” environment, the burden to build resilience and avoid burnout is placed on the already overwhelmed and overworked employee. Just as the proverbial canary cannot be responsible for fixing the toxic elements of the coal mine, employees cannot fix organizational obstacles to workplace happiness.

McKinsey reports that 52% of employees leave because they feel their supervisor does not value them. Meanwhile, supervisors, who often are overburdened by staff vacancies, are dancing as fast as they can in remote and hybrid environments, where it is increasingly difficult to assess employee needs or even their own needs. This workshop will provide tangible solutions for organizational champions who want to impact the current workforce crisis in human services and promote a culture of true wellness, resilience, and psychological safety.

Ultimately, by creating actionable data, organizations that check-in routinely can build a robust mosaic of baselines, success measures, and strategic planning initiatives to engage and retain talent. By doing this, organizational leaders will confidently be able to answer: How are my employees? How’s my team? How are certain subgroups of employees doing?

The canaries no longer need to be sent into the dangerous coal mine. Rather, the coal mine is automated with sensors and alarms to create a safe space for all.

Through an engaging and interactive format, participants will discuss:

Learning Objectives


Gwen Koenig
Chief Growth Officer

Our transgender youth are facing unconscionable movements to restrict their rights and present concomitant risks to their lives. They are already at greater risk of violence and other traumas, such as homelessness, human trafficking, food insecurity, educational exclusion and failure, and suicide.

Transgender youth of color are at exponential risk across these domains. According to The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ+ Mental Health, 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. In addition, in a 2022 poll by The Trevor Project, two-thirds of LGBTQ youth reported that the recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people impacted their mental health negatively. This impact is even more dramatic among transgender and/or non-binary youth, where more than four in five of them (85%) reported it impacted their mental health negatively.”

The anti-LGBTQ and anti-transgender legislation that’s proposed in Texas, Florida, and other states that follow suit are standard echoes of pan-historical actions to exclude a group from a right, service, opportunity, and space as a means of oppressing them. This formula remains clear and discernable—and when we pare down the exclusionary blueprint of these tactics, we arrive at the certainty that we cannot combat anti-LGBTQ+ exclusion initiatives without pro-inclusion action.

On the other side of these grave facts are the tremendous realities of resilience among our LGBTQ+ youth, when provided the affordable and attainable supports that we can provide them. In this workshop, participants will learn about the barriers to belonging and strategies to transform all spaces into trans-inclusive spaces.

Learning Objectives


Clinical Supervisor
Starr Commonwealth

Michael Rosewood, LLMSW CTRP-C
Behavioral Health Clinician
Starr Commonwealth