2017 Guardian ad Litem Disabilities Training Conference – Making the Impossible Possible

This year over 450 attorneys, judges and child welfare professionals attended the Third Florida Guardian ad Litem Program Disabilities Training Conference. The keynote speakers and panels were inspiring thought provoking and gave us all tools to use in helping the children we work with every day. The workshops were wide ranging with presenters sharing their expertise in areas such as guardianships, psychotropic medications, master trusts and educational advocacy. Below are the videos of the from the workshops and keynote speakers. If you are an attorney in Florida and would like to receive CLE credit you will need to watch the video and report the course number and information to the Florida Bar at www.FloridaBar.org. There are 33 credit hours available below. The course numbers are valid for 18 months or until November 5, 2018.  If you attended the conference, the 1702423N (12.0 General; 1.5 Ethics and 1.5 Mental Illness and 12.0 Juvenile Law Certification Credits).

Why Wait for Waiver: Securing Educational and Behavioral Services?    Speakers: Coravious Cowart,  Lauren Pankuch, Kate York

This workshop presents a particularly vulnerable subsection of dependent youth: those who fail to meet the precise criteria for developmental disabilities recognized by the State of Florida or are unable to move from the APD waitlist onto the Waiver, yet have accompanying behavioral and educational challenges often faced by youth with disabilities. These youths are at greater risk of delinquency, grade retentions, and unstable placements. This presentation outlines the types of services and interventions available to youth regardless of their eligibility for other programs. Attendees will learn effective strategies to advocate on behalf of youth in the educational arena including initiating services, crafting behavioral plans and reducing inappropriate disciplinary measures. Attendees will gain tools needed to secure behavioral therapies and other treatments that address the underlying cognitive and mental health challenges as well as the added stressors caused by abuse, abandonment, and neglect. Attendees will learn methods to reduce the negative impact of delinquency on youth with developmental and behavioral challenges.   Intermediate
  • CLE Number:  1702458N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law)
Least Restrictive Means: What Every Judicial Officer Needs to Know.  Speakers:  The Honorable Daniel P. Dawson, Dennis Moore,  Thomasina Moore
Recently, in S.M.  v. Department of Children and Families, the Florida Supreme Court clarified the least restrictive means test for termination of parental rights cases. The least restrictive means prong of the termination of parental rights test is tied directly to the due process rights that must be afforded to a parent before his or her parental rights are terminated. In most cases, the parent will be given the opportunity to comply with a case plan and be reunified with their child. This workshop will explore what is required of the courts and parties to satisfy the least restrictive means test in termination of parental rights cases. After attending this workshop, attendees will be able to analyze how state and federal law affect the least restrictive means analysis; understand best practices for incorporating the S.M. opinion into case plans, with an emphasis on practical strategies for applying the holding; and will understand the legal standards for resolving parental rights issues. Intermediate
  • CLE Number: 1702440N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law; Marital and Family Law)
Special Needs Trusts working with ABLE Accounts Speaker Travis Finchum
This workshop will include an overview of Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) and how they benefit individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Also discussed will be Florida’s ABLE accounts and how to make these accounts more effective and beneficial when coupled with Special Needs Trusts. After attending this workshop, attendees will understand all types of Special Needs Trusts, with particular emphasis on First-Party SNTs; understand ABLE accounts; and will learn how and when to use both SNTs and ABLE accounts to maximize benefits and resources. Intermediate
  • CLE Number: 1702441N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Elder Law; Wills, Trusts, and Estates; Juvenile Law)
To Infinity and Beyond: Transition, Accommodations, and Life After Secondary School  Speakers: Megan Collins, Alexa Siegel

Attendees will learn to navigate the transition from high school to college or employment for students with disabilities. Topics will include a discussion of transition IEPs and Vocational Rehabilitation, an explanation of the process for requesting testing accommodations for the SAT or ACT, and guidance on how to navigate requests for accommodations at college or university. After attending this workshop, attendees will understand the role of Vocational Rehabilitation in the transition from high school; how to apply for testing accommodations for standardized tests like the ACT and SAT; and how to aquatint themselves with the office of disability services at colleges and universities. Intermediate
  • CLE Number:1702442N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law)
Wagging Tails and Other Indispensable Tools in the Treatment of Trauma  Speakers:  Denise Conus,  Brenda Kocher

The presenters share their knowledge and expertise of how traumatized children can be best served through trauma-specific therapies and sensory interventions including, the use of highly trained facility dogs. This workshop will lay a solid but not overly technical foundation of the neurobiology of trauma and neglect in the developing nervous system. Facility dogs will be present and the science behind and examples of their use will be explored. Evidenced based techniques and other successful approaches in the treatment of trauma will be discussed. Intermediate
  • CLE Number: 1702443N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law)
When Disability Intersects with Culture Speakers:  Canessa Cordero, Laura Streyffeler

This workshop seeks to bring visibility to the issues of health and well-being for youth with disabilities by addressing the importance of culture in contributing to health and well-being. There will be a discussion of health disparities in relation to persons with disabilities in regard to cultural differences, such as gender, race or ethnicity, education or income, geographic location, or sexual orientation. After attending this workshop, attendees will recognize the importance of cultural issues for youth with disabilities; understand health disparities among those with disabilities, and consider if the current structures and systems approach treatment to services with regard to cultural differences among youth with disabilities. Intermediate
  • CLE Number: 1702444N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law)
GALTALK – Transitioning Children with Disabilities to Success  Speakers:  Travis Finchum, Jack Levine, Patricia Propheter, Mary K. Wimsett, Nancy Wright

This workshop will include four experts who will discuss topics central to advocacy on behalf of foster children with disabilities and their transition to adulthood. These short, powerful talks include: Travis Finchum, Board Certified Elder Law Attorney, Special Needs Lawyers, P. A. will be discussing Special Needs Trusts. Mary K. Wimsett, Private Practitioner, and Special Counsel, Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program. How to determine if guardianship is the best option, if not, what other planning is necessary before the child turns eighteen? Patricia Propheter, Continuing Education Coordinator, Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program Attorney Propheter will discuss the best path for youth you serve. Nancy Wright, Attorney, Law Office of NancyWright. Nancy Wright will discuss options for you with developmental disabilities who qualify for a Medicaid Waiver Program. Intermediate
  • CLE Number: 1702445N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Elder Law; Juvenile Law; Adoption Law)
Guardianship & Guardian Advocate Training for Attorneys and Advocates Post the Regis Little Statute  Speakers Sharon Langer, Wendy Robbins McClary, Deborah Schroth

Attorneys and advocates will learn what they need to know about Guardianship and Guardian Advocate law to represent foster youth needing a Guardianship. The workshop will address the Regis Little statute after two years and discuss the successes and challenges that still remain for those needing a guardianship. After attending this workshop, attendees will be able to identify foster youth requiring a Legal Guardianship or Guardian Advocacy; will be able to identify persons or agencies wiling to serve as Guardians/Guardian Advocates for youth prior to their 18th birthday; and understand the legal process and requirements for successful case completion the directives contained in the Regis Little statute. Intermediate
  • CLE Number: 1702446N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law; Adoption Law)
Obtaining Trauma-Informed Educational Services Under the IDEA and Section 504/ADA  Speakers:  Simone Chriss,  Jodi Siegel

This workshop will promote an in-depth understanding of the key special education laws that protect children with disabilities from the perspective of a special education advocate of 30 years. The workshop also will provide a comprehensive foundation on childhood trauma, including the science behind the neurological, emotional and behavioral effects that manifest in school.   Finally, the workshop will provide an understanding of how special education laws can be used as tools for obtaining trauma-informed services in school settings. Participants will understand the practical application of special education laws that protect children with disabilities; will understand childhood trauma and its pervasive neurological, emotional and behavioral impacts on children’s brains and behavior and how that impacts learning; and participants will learn how the IDEA and Section 504/ADA can be used as tools for obtaining trauma-informed services in school settings. Intermediate
  • CLE Number: 1702447N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law; Education Law)
Understanding the Unique Needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children  Speaker: Allison Schlesinger
In this workshop, attendees will learn the unique cultural and language access needs of deaf and hard of hearing children. We will discuss using designated GAL’s for this specific group of children as a best practice model. Participants will give their perspective as we look at how to best represent deaf children in court, education and residential treatment. We will review The Department of Children and Families Office of Civil Rights’ commitment to facilitate effective communication under the recent joint guidance issued by the DOJ and as a strong resource for each stage of the dependency process. Attendees will learn how to identify the needs of children, parents, guardians, court personnel, case managers or social workers, etc., for Auxilliary Aids and Services; how to identify providers of Auxilliary Aids and Services; where to turn for timely assistance in locating Auxilliary Aids and Services; and the roles of DCF’s civil rights officers and of contract provider Single-Point-of-Contacts in facilitating service delivery, as required by the Department and Regional Auxilliary Aids and Services plans. Intermediate
  • CLE Number: 1702448N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law; Marital and Family Law)
Why Institutional Living Facilities Harm Children with Disabilities  Speaker Paolo Annino
The goals of this workshop are fourfold:
  1. Define institutional living like nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, congregate living group homes, juvenile facilities
  2. Discuss Florida’s long history of institutional living for children with disabilities: The Farm Colony for the Epileptics and Feeble-minded; Dozier Reform School; and Sunlands
  3. Discuss the scientific literature on how institutional living harms
  4. Discuss litigation strategies advocates can use in state circuit court and in other tribunals to avoid the placement of their child client in such facilities. Intermediate
  • CLE Number:  1702449N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law)
When is an Animal More Than a Pet?  Speaker Matthew Dietz
For decades, service animals have been trained for the use of persons with disabilities to assist with daily life activities, and for persons with mental disabilities to alleviate the symptoms of their disabilities. These animals have assisted to integrate persons with any disability into society by making them less dependent on other people. Federal and state law protects users of assistance animals, and mandate non-discrimination and accessibility in housing, education and public accommodations for persons with disabilities. Accordingly, the use of assistance animals is becoming more common-place to assist a child through court proceedings in the criminal or dependency system, or to permanently assist a child with a disability with his or her daily activities. Along with the increased use of animals as a therapeutic tool or assistive being, there has been criticism of the abuse of the law by persons who claim that their pet is a service animal. This seminar will detail the differences between a pet and an assistance animal (service animal, emotional support animal, or therapy animal), what training or registration an assistance animal requires, and what protections the laws afford to those who use an assistance animal. Intermediate
  • CLE Number:  1702437N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law;  Civil Trial)
Nothing About Us Without Us: Engaging the Family in Planning for Success  Speakers:  Valerie Holmes,  Tracy Little, MBA/CWCM-S, Dr. Patricia Nellius, Patricia Propheter, Kelly A. Swartz, Shari J. Wilson

The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program and Brevard Family Partnership will be exploring the progression from alienation to family engagement in case planning. Family engagement is especially critical for providing supports and common goals for children with disabilities. The differences and importance of family engagement will be illustrated through the use of skits and presentations. Brevard Family Partnership will explain wraparound principles. And finally, the presenters will role-play a family driven case planning scenario followed by questions from attendees.  Intermediate
  • CLE Number: 1702438N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law; Marital and Family Law)
Accessing Services for Children with Developmental Disabilities in the Dependency System   Speakers: Lorena Fulcher,  Michael Sauve
There is a wide range of services available to children with developmental disabilities in Florida. However, navigating and accessing services through various funding sources can be challenging. This presentation will provide information regarding the services available to individuals with developmental disabilities in Florida, with an emphasis on children with developmental disabilities served by the child welfare system. This workshop will include discussion of case studies and identify how to access services for children with various needs and in different stages of the dependency system. The presentation will include information about some of the laws and rules that delineate services available for children. The workshop will provide GALs with tools to enhance their advocacy and support of the children that they serve. Intermediate
  • CLE Number: 1702454N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law; Adoption Law)
Hidden Treasures: McKay and Gardiner Scholarships for Dependent Children with Disabilities   Speakers: Sara Goldfarb,  Laura Lee

This workshop will present an overview the purpose, eligibility requirements, benefits, application process, restrictions, and drawbacks of both the McKay and Gardiner Scholarships. There will be a discussion of best practices in order to appoint an educational surrogate early in the case if a disability is known or suspected. The presenters will explore factors for a surrogate to investigate and how to determine which program would be most beneficial for the child, including negative aspects of which to be aware. The process to apply for each program and applicable deadlines will also be reviewed during this workshop. The grievance procedure if not satisfied with results will also be reviewed as well as how best to maintain eligibility. Intermediate
  • CLE Number: 1702450N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law)
Medicaid Jeopardy– Nancy Wright

What services are available to children under Medicaid? How do I get them? Through which Medicaid program? Why were services cut? What is a “case manager”? In this workshop, participants will submit questions, scenarios (without identifying information) and success stories prior to the workshop. The presenter will sort through and organize these into a cohesive format that applies Medicaid to real-life problems. After attending this workshop, attendees will understand the differences between Medicaid programs; learn to navigate managed care; and keep calm and carry on (question authority). Attendee questions will be used to guide the workshop. Intermediate
  • CLE Number:  1702452N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law)
No Time to Waste: Advocating for Children Before, During & After Placement in Residential Treatment Speakers: Dave Krupski, Matthew Wilson

Children in or facing residential treatment present unique and complex challenges even for the most experienced advocate. The goal of this workshop is to provide child advocates with the primary tools and knowledge base necessary to advocate on behalf of children, at all phases of the residential treatment process. Whether one is a GAL volunteer, an attorney, or case manager, this workshop will provide an opportunity to develop and refine your skills in serving children placed in or being considered for placement in a residential treatment center. Attendees will be equipped with a base of knowledge of the residential treatment process; will gain tools and ideas as to how to advocate for children in or facing residential treatment; and will leave the workshop with best practices for children involved in the residential treatment process. Intermediate
  • CLE Number: 1702453N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law)
General Session: Questions Asked & Answered – Attorneys for Children with Special Needs Panel  Speakers: Scott L. Horvat,  Heidi Kemph, Robert Latham, Bowdre McAllister, Mary K. Wimsett
Legislation was passed in 2014 enacting Florida Statute § 39.01305, which requires appointment of attorneys to dependent children with certain special needs – children in or being considered for a skilled nursing facility, children prescribed psychotropic medications, children with a developmental disability, children placed or considered for placement in a residential treatment center, or children who are victims of human trafficking. These registry attorneys offer their expertise to children throughout Florida. The panelists, who are also some of this year’s Excellence in Advocacy award winners, will discuss: special issues associated with representing youth with disabilities; changes in system they would like to see implemented; issues that keep them up at night; and some of the most creative strategies they have used in representing children with disabilities. Come with questions as panelists will take questions from the audience.  Intermediate
  • CLE Number:  1702439N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Marital and Family Law; Juvenile Law)
Courtroom Advocacy to Improve Outcomes for Older Youth with Disabilities   Speakers: Karen Lindell,  Lisa Swaminathan
This workshop will examine federal laws and best practices that support effective transition planning for youth with disabilities, focusing on courtroom techniques that ensure youth access to improved screening, assessment, and treatment; family-based placement; high-quality education that supports child welfare needs; supportive adult connections; and extended foster care as youth continue to develop skills they will need in adulthood. Participants will design approaches for courtroom advocacy when planning has failed to meet client needs, including strategies to avoid discharge to predictable bad outcomes. Intermediate
  • CLE Number:1702526N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law)
Sunshine Health’s Medicaid Child Welfare Specialty Plan    Speakers: Toby Pina,  Neiko Shea
Sunshine Health’s specialty plan implements a trauma-informed model that integrates behavioral health, physical health, and child welfare in order to support the specialized needs of the children served. This workshop will provide an overview of the Child Welfare Specialty Plan, services funded by the CWSP will be presented, including those that may be included in the case plan. Lastly, legal obstacles will be discussed as will coordination of health care and assistance with referrals will be discussed. Intermediate
  • CLE Number:  1702456N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law)
Suspensions, Expulsions, Arrests and Baker Act, Oh No!  Speaker:  Ann Siegel

  • CLE Number: 1702455N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General; Mental Illness)
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Education Law; Juvenile Law)
Transition Planning Tools and Tips for Special Needs Older Youth Speakers:  Bowdre McAllister and Ann Price
  • CLE Number: 1702457N
  • CLE Credits: 1.5 (General; Ethics)
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law; Adoption Law)