2018 GAL Disabilities Training Conference – What’s Your SuperPower?

This year over 400 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. The course numbers are valid for 18 months or until November 3, 2019.

Welcome & Opening Session – Great Minds Don’t Always Think Alike    Speakers: Alan Abramowitz, Kelly Swartz, and Steve Silberman
A deep look at the hidden history of autism and the promise of a future in which everyone is given the support they need to reach their maximum potential.Steve Silberman is an award-winning investigative journalist who has written for Wired, the New Yorker, Time and Nature. His book NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, was named one of the best books of 2015 by The New York Times, The Economist, Financial Times, and The Guardian. It was the first science book to win the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction and has also won a California Book Award and a Books for a Better Life Award. Silberman upends conventional thinking about autism and suggests a broader model for understanding people who think differently. Going back to the earliest days of autism research and chronicling the brave and lonely journey of autistic people and their families through the decades, Silberman provides long-sought solutions to the autism puzzle, while mapping out a path for our society toward a more humane world in which people with learning differences and those who love them have access to the resources they need to live happier, healthier, more secure, and more meaningful lives.
CLE Number: 1803564N
CLE Credits: 2 (General)
Certification Credits: 2 (Juvenile and Marital Law)
Advocating for Families of Children with Complex Medical Issues When MCA Accusations are Made   
Speaker: Debra Salisbury

Complex medical issues (CMI) and rare diseases in children significantly impact families and can lead to accusations of Medical Child Abuse (MCA). MCA versus diagnosis of Factitious Disorder, and other related disorders must be differentiated. The “Perfect Storm” when MCA accusations are made against such families of child(ren) with CMI is increasing. The underlying reasons, parental profiles, catalysts, factual distortion, and trauma to the child are addressed. Best practices in defending parents, the role of the GAL in regards to the child, and the role of the Court are presented. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803583N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
The Effects of Toxic Stress on the Developing Brain
Speakers: Chad Sedam, Paula Lupton

This workshop will give participants an understanding of the primary functions of each area of the brain and will discuss how exposure to toxic stress impacts brain development. Participants will be able to identify how toxic stress alters the structure and activity of specific brain areas and how these changes impact behavioral, social, and emotional functioning in children and in adults. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803581N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
How to Ensure that All Disabilities – Related Needs of a Child are Met 
Speakers: Matthew Dietz

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, children with disabilities are entitled to have additional services so each child can have equal access to programs and services of the dependency program, as well as the right to be integrated into the community. You will learn what type of accommodations are available and how to effectively advocate for accommodations. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803584N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
From Chaos to Clarity
Speaker: Stephanie Byrd

All too often professionals in helping careers sacrifice self-care and stress-related symptoms. In this workshop participants will gain valuable insight and skills to help manage the stress related to professional careers devoted to serving others. From ideas for maintaining a greater work/life balance to skills for taming the internal critic that fuels anxiety and stress, participants will leave the workshop with methods for enhancing both their professional and personal lives. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803580N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)


Adulting 101; WIOA, Transition and Social Security Benefits for Students with Disabilities
Speaker: Z. Felicia Jordan

In this workshop, participants will explore the interactions between the wide array of transition services available to students with disabilities and Social Security benefits provided through both the SSI and SSDI programs. An emphasis will be placed on the Workplace Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) through the Client Assistance Program (CAP). Participants will learn which agencies and programs have roles in the transition process, what issues to be alert to as a student transitions into post-secondary activities, and how work incentives can ease the transition from the beneficiary to the self-sufficient individual. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803575N
CLE Credits: 1.5
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
Facility Dogs Helping Vulnerable Witnesses Find their Voice and Heal    Speakers: Denise Conus, Brenda Kocher

Two facility dog teams will discuss the vast array of services facility dogs can provide in the spectrum of trauma informed services to dependent children. The extensive breeding and training program spanning the first two years of their lives uniquely prepares these canines for the rigors of working with not only vulnerable victims, but also professionals in mental health, law, law enforcement, and all aspects of child advocacy. The workshop will combine information about best practices, but will also highlight all areas where these teams enhance service to children and professionals. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803579N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
Up UP and Away! How to Help Your Wheelchair Bound Clients Soar   Speakers: Sarah McArthur, Scott Porter

Wheelchair bound clients present a unique opportunity to make a real difference in the life of a child. Advocating on behalf of children with physical deficits is more about an attitude than possessing various pieces of information. In this workshop we’ll prove that the statement above. Using a case study, information from academic research and from real life, participants will learn the attitude and learn the tools to advocate on behalf of children with physical deficits. We will discuss everything from basic hygiene to driving a car – pressure sores to adaptive sports. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803577N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
The Value of Permanency for All Children
Speakers: Suzanne Parker, Tabitha Lambert

Through information, materials and activities created by Casey Family Programs and other experts, we will explore what permanency actually means for all of our children, regardless of special needs, diagnoses, and cognitive, physical or emotional disabilities. We’ll look at national outcomes for children who age-out of foster care and talk about action steps that we as professionals in the dependency system can take to ensure this does not happen to the children we represent. We will also hear from one adoptive parent who adopted a child from foster care with special needs and their story. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803578N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
Work/Life Balance – Mindfulness in High Conflict Jobs
Speaker: Judge Charles Crawford

Join us to develop daily tools to help you achieve your work and personal goals faster, create habits of high performance and be your best every day. You will learn strategies to control your time and why you should have two of everything. We will share why old school is sometimes better than the latest and greatest technology. We will discuss, “backup so you can always get back up” and why Tim Allen’s motto of “Never Give Up, Never Surrender,” should become your own. Advanced
CLE Number: 1803576N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
General Session – Registry Panel
Moderator: Mary K. Wimsett   Panelists: Scott Robbins, Meshon Rawls, Kirsten “Kiki” Dunton, Matthew Mandelkorn, KC Tusher

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 the 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.
CLE Number: 1803563N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
General Session: GAL Talks – Telling the Child’s Story with Meaning
Speakers: Ian Garlic, Fay Clark, Roberta Katz, Judge Jill Walker

The program will begin with an expert on storytelling, Ian Garlic. Ian will guide us through the key elements of storytelling and how to be most effective in your message. Then we will have a GAL Volunteer and a GAL Child’s Best Interest Attorney describe their experiences in dependency court and how the telling of their story impacted the case and the youth’s life. We will conclude with an experienced dependency Judge, the Honorable Jill Walker, who will discuss effective storytelling and advocacy from the perspective of the bench.
CLE Number: 1803561N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
Increasing Access to Behavior Health Services Through Technology
Speakers: Amy Blakely, Anna Baznik
In this session, IMPOWER leadership will discuss providing mental health treatment via telehealth with a focus on the child welfare system. Through telehealth, traditional barriers to treatment (e.g. transportation, missing work/school, stigma, geography, and logistics) are eliminated and individuals receive treatment in a timely manner. Through the use of a secure and HIPPA compliant, web-based platform, the program is able to give members in even the most remote and provider-impoverished areas the ability to receive timely specialized treatment from highly qualified and experienced staff. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803574N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law, Marital and Family Law, Technology)
Protecting the Child’s Voice: Use & Application of the Child Hearsay Rule in Dependency Cases
Speakers: Kelly Swartz, Sara Goldfarb

This presentation will provide a framework for AALs appointed from the CWSN’s Registry, GAL volunteers, best interest attorneys, Department personnel, health care providers, and testifying experts regarding issues arising with hearsay issues with children with disabilities. We will discuss the relevant statutes, caselaw, and issues that arise on appeal regarding the child victim hearsay exception. Given the recent influx of parents’ TPR appeals that raise child hearsay issues, this presentation is timely and important for AALs and GALs on the “front lines” of these cases. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803572N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)



Runaway Train: Dependency & the School to Prison Pipeline
Speakers: Dr. Katie Kelly, Valerie Blocker

The School-to- Prison pipeline (STPP) refers to the discriminatory policies and practices that funnel students out of public schools and into prisons. Sadly, a disproportionate number of these children are in the dependency system, students of color, and those with disabilities. According to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, almost 10,000 students were arrested at school during the 2015-2016 school year. There are ways to prevent these arrests. This workshop will provide an in-depth overview of the STPP and the tools necessary to advocate for kids in care subject to it. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803573N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
The Superpowers of Special Litigation-Representing the Vulnerable Youth
Speakers: Alexandra Lohman, Nazli Matt, Andrew Batog

Presented by the Juvenile Advocacy Project of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, advocates in attendance will learn the key issues facing clients with exceptional needs in the dependency system. At the outset, our presentation will begin with an overview of the attorney ad litem model employed by our program. While this model comes from the perspective of the attorney for the child, the skills and perspectives employed by our Project can be adapted to meet the needs of attorneys and advocates on behalf of dependent children. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803570N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
You Don’t Have to Do it Alone – Building an Advocacy Team through Due Process Services for Attorneys for Children
Speaker: Robert Latham

Attorneys appointed for special needs children have access to due process costs on behalf of their child clients. These services can include a wide range of experts, investigators, and interpreters. Many attorneys do not use these services despite their ability to significantly elevate the quality and effectiveness of advocacy on behalf of the child. This presentation will cover the procedure for obtaining due process services. It will also cover ethical considerations and effective strategies for their use in common scenarios, such as obtaining consulting evaluations on a client, using investigators and forensic experts to monitor agency or parental compliance with court orders, and using social work experts to assist in creation of advocacy strategy. The goal of this presentation is to help attorneys for children use due process services to create a team of advocates on behalf of the child. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803571N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
Challenges & Pitfalls in Achieving Permanency for Children Whose Parents Receive APD Services
Speakers: Laura Lee, Janet Anderson

Present background of legal authority for the Agency of Persons with Disabilities program, available services, the Medicaid Waiver Coordinator’s role, the subcontracting of APD services, and the APD workers. Discuss realistic expectations of the APD worker within a dependency case including possible conflicts of interest, lack of objectivity, limited availability, and high turnover. Identify potential pitfalls in achieving permanency. Explore practical options for shelter and case planning. Develop best practices to achieve desirable outcomes for children in this unique population. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803566N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
Human Trafficking Awareness & Education
Speakers: Roberta Katz, Casi Knowles

Human Trafficking Awareness and Education. We’ll discuss risk factors, signs of involvement and dangers, as well as the importance of helping youth establish positive and consistent relationships. While sharing the child-centered presentation used with foster youth in Circuit 19, presenters will also highlight how attachment disruptions make youth more vulnerable to exploitation. Utilizing a video by Shared Hope International of two teenage survivors of sex trafficking, presenters will discuss the importance of changing perceptions and offer tools for participants to engage with youth and build positive relationships. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803568N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
Knocking Down the Silo: Let’s All See That RTC
Speakers: Bethanie Barber, Mildred Sellars

As child advocates, we all know about the court hearings, multi-disciplinary team meetings, suitability assessments, and review hearings that make up the residential treatment center (RTC) framework for our dependent children, but how many of us know what day-to-day life looks like for our kids residing in RTCs? RTC operation standards are voluminous and detailed, but how are they put into play? Join us for a training on education, socialization, skills training, nutrition, and day-to-day life for children in RTCs. Learn about RTC operations standards, how to provide input in your child’s treatment plan, and establish professional relationships with key RTC staff. The RTC silo is open for viewing! We will teach about RTC operations standards, and then play jeopardy. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803565N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law, Marital and Family Law, Mental Illness)
Pro Bono’s Role in the Work/Life Balance
Speakers: Claud Nelson, Kate York

This workshop facilitates an open dialogue about the balance of pro bono advocacy and the unique challenges which often accompany the representation of disabled children. We will discuss the rules of professional responsibility regarding pro bono, dispel many myths around pro bono practice, and engage in thoughtful conversation about the personal and systemic benefits of pro bono work. Through case studies, breakout group discussion, and data analysis, this workshop offers best practices in setting professional boundaries, improving time management, and the efficient use of technology. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803569N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)
Special Needs Trusts & ABLE Accounts – 2018 Update
Speaker: Travis Finchum

There have been a lot of changes in Special Needs Trusts and ABLE Accounts over the past year. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by the President in December 2017 made changes to the underlying ABLE law and Social Security is publishing entirely new policy on Special Needs Trusts. We will discuss how these changes will impact individuals with special needs. Intermediate
CLE Number: 1803567N
CLE Credits: 1.5 (General)
Certification Credits: 1.5 (Juvenile Law & Marital and Family Law)