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2018 Conference Opening Remarks

Friday, August 24, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kim Dvorchak
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The National Association of Counsel for Children is thrilled to host this convening in San Antonio as we embark on two and half days of learning, inspiration, and exchange.


Thank you, Candi Mayes, for the kind introduction, and for your leadership as NACC’s Board President.


NACC is governed by a hard-working board of directors who contribute an incredible amount of time, talent, and resources to the success of this organization. I would particularly like to thank the Strategic Planning Committee, chaired by Bob Schwartz. The Board just approved a new five-year strategic plan yesterday and we look forward to sharing more information with you about our new goals and strategies this fall.


We also extend our thanks to the Annie E. Casey Foundation for their generous assistance and support in NACC’s strategic planning process.


NACC’s programs are run by a dedicated team I’d like to introduce you to who made every detail of this event possible: 

  • Brooke Silverthorn, Director of Legal and Policy Advocacy, who recently launched the Every Kid Needs a Family Workgroup with representatives from our Child Welfare Law Specialist community
  •  Daniel Trujillo, Certification Director, who just helped produce NACC’s new online webinar series, the Red Book Training Course, in a program piloted this spring and opening to all next month
  •  Ginger Burton, Certification Assistant, who keeps NACC’s certification program in order and has special talents in writing and editing we’ve been tapping into for NACC’s communications
  •  Sara Willis, formerly known as Sara Whalen, Business & Operations Manager, who came back home to NACC this summer to keep this conference and NACC’s operations on track

You guys rock this event and so many other programs.  Thank you for your hard work and your commitment to NACC’s mission and success. 


Thank you to our incredible faculty for being so generous with your time and your expertise. We are grateful for your contributions to this year’s dynamic program and for the positive impact you will have on our practice.


Thank you to our sponsors, exhibitors, and advertisers for your engagement and support.


NACC extends a very special thanks to the Supreme Court of Texas Children’s Commission, for providing nearly 100 scholarships to Texas judges and attorneys. I’d like to acknowledge Tina Amberboy, Executive Director of the Children’s Commission.


But most of all, thank you for being here, and for the work you do every day.


At NACC it is truly our honor and mission to create this space for you to engage in a national dialogue on law, policy, and practice and build connections and community with your peers this year, from Alaska to Puerto Rico.


This is a continuing legal education event. But we in the NACC community gather here for much more than that.  We gather here with purpose and passion for the rights and well-being of children and families.


For while we are lawyers, judges, social workers, and policy experts, we do this work because we care deeply about children and families. As the vivid news of this summer has shown the rest of the world, the cost of a family separation is high, and we in the field, cannot ignore who is paying the price and why.


In addition to serving the needs of children and families, this year’s program calls upon us to protect their civil rights as well so that our purpose and passion will mean all children can access a loving nurturing family through high-quality legal representation: 

  • A loving nurturing family—without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression
  • A loving nurturing family—without suspicion or judgment based upon race, culture, ethnicity, or national origin
  • A loving nurturing family –without barriers that have more to do with poverty and regulatory obstacles than child safety 

There are very real threats to child safety, and there are incidents of child abuse and neglect that can have devastating effects on children and families and that do sometimes require removal, but in this system named and designed for child protection, we do an awful lot of work trying to mitigate the harms of system involvement:

  • To address the trauma and loss of parent and sibling separation.
  • To address the educational disruptions and barriers.
  • To address the lack of services for substance abuse and behavioral health care.
  • To address the trafficking of children out of our foster care systems.
  • To address the homelessness of youth aging out of our foster care system.

This years’ program calls upon us to candidly appraise the system and the role we play in it in order to ensure equal access to justice, counsel, family, safety, and opportunity. This Conference offers new ideas, laws, strategies and solutions to do just that.


We gather with purpose and passion to build a community of strength, a force for justice and a growing network of Child Welfare Law Specialists to lead the field both as practitioners and as critical stakeholders in systems reform.


Thank you for supporting each other, for taking the lessons you learn back to your home communities, and for continuing to advance excellence in child welfare legal representation.


The National Association of Counsel for children exists to help you do this important work and we are renewing our commitment to better serve your needs and to advancing the rights, well-being, and opportunities of children impacted by the child welfare system in the days and years to come.


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