2021 OVC Applied Research and
Best Practice Symposium

Helping Children with
Disabilities Thrive

Play, Powerful Behaviors, and Full Potential

May 5-12, 2021  |  Virtual Event

 

If you are serving children with disabilities – as an NGO team, professional, biological parent, adoptive parent, foster parent, kin, teacher, service provider, practitioner, researcher – this symposium is for you.

Together, we will explore how to help children with disabilities thrive.

We know it can feel overwhelming and at times, even isolating – especially when children are separated from the love and support of a family. 
Join us and hear practical tips and insight from the top researchers in the field.

Join us for the 2021
virtual Symposium

WHAT TO EXPECT

Curated content from top contributors and experts in the field.

Once you’ve registered, set aside time between May 5 – May 12 to watch the Symposium Presentations together as a team or individually.  The 2021 Symposium content has been thoughtfully curated from top organizations, academic institutions and leading experts in the field and will be sure to inform, equip, and inspire you wherever you are on your journey.

Virtual Content and Participant Guide

Resources and materials will arrive in your inbox, preparing you for a day of learning from expert researchers in the field. Whether you are going to experience Symposium as an individual,  facilitating, or participating in Symposium as part of a group, you will receive special instructions, resources, and discussion questions to help guide you through the content. 

Live Interactive Session and Coaching Groups

On Wednesday, May 12, registered attendees can join two live Keynote General Sessions. Each registrant will also have the opportunity to join a coaching session* in the afternoon.

*Coaching sessions require video participation and spaces are limited.

FEATURED SPEAKERS

Denise Briley

Denise Briley

Denise Briley lives in Tomball, Texas. She’s cared for children and adults with disabilities for 40 years! Denise’s son Clayton was born in 1983 with Cytomegalovirus. His life and her young family’s desire to attend church, launched Denise’s passion as a special needs ministry pioneer. Advocating, caring, supporting families, as well as ministry leaders across the nation, Denise has a gained perspective of what it means to help others thrive in their work…so whether a professional or parent…and all the in-between, Denise sees herself as a connector and encourager of people.

She’s known as the “Encore Mama” in this season of her life. When her son passed away and her adult kids were grown. She and her husband became foster/adoptive parents and are raising their six-year-old daughter with significant medical needs and also foster babies who are medically fragile.

Carmen Weber

Carmen Weber

Carmen Weber loves interesting socks, mini succulents, and coffee from her little pink Keurig. She is finishing her sophomore year at Collin College and will be pursuing a social work degree at the University of North Texas in the fall. She and her twin sister were adopted from foster care at three years old. She enjoys using her story to encourage others toward adoption. She is passionate about helping others and currently works at a senior living center.

Natalya Carpenter

Natalya Carpenter

Natalya Carpenter is an abortion survivor and international adoptee from Russia with Cerebral Palsy. Her family has 10 adopted daughters and are the founders and directors of Ting Ministries, a nonprofit ministry which serves orphans and vulnerable children, families, pastors, animal rescue around the world and offers family and adoption counseling (www.tingministries.com).

Sasha is blessed to Be a Voice for the Voiceless through singing, interviews and speaking engagements, including, notably, with Spirit of Adoption Radio and in Washington D.C. She also serves as a private tutor and adoption advocacy and report writer.

Simon Mudoola

Simon Mudoola

Simon Mudoola lives in Kimaka village in Jinja, Uganda with his wife and three children. He works at Ekisa Ministries where he is the day guard.

Although Simon has a physical disability that hinders him from using his legs, he is passionate about showing others what he can do and how hard he is able to work. Simon’s favorite part about working with children with disabilities is that he gets to be a mentor to them and show them that they too can one day have a job and provide for themselves.

Natalie Flickner

Natalie Flickner

Natalie Flickner is an associate missionary with World Evangelism for Christ (WEC) serving as a part of Crisis Care Training International (CCTI). She graduated with a BA in both Intercultural Studies and Bible from Columbia International University. Then she continued studying at Columbia Biblical Seminary and earned an MA in Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Formation.

Natalie has ministered with CCTI since 2013.  Her role at CCTI is Disability Coordinator and Trainer. Under this role she has written a module for CCTI curriculum called “Restoring Hope to Children with Disabilities”. She uses her personal experience of living with mild cerebral palsy in both her writing and speaking engagements. She lives with her husband in South Carolina.

Ben Rhodes

Ben Rhodes

Dr. Ben Rhodes is the Director of the Christian Institute on Disability at the Joni and Friends International Disability Center.

He and his wife Katie enjoy traveling to new places, great books, and good food. Katie works with resource/foster families, and they are both committed to faith-based partnerships with vulnerable populations. Dr. Rhodes holds a PhD in systematic theology from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and is passionate about the transformational effect of theology in the daily practice of Christian life.

Jedd Medefind

Jedd Medefind

Jedd serves as President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans.

Through CAFO, more than 190 respected organizations unite in shared initiatives, along with a wide network of churches. CAFO’s membership works in tandem to inspire and equip families, churches and organizations for effective service to vulnerable children and families — from adoption and US foster care, to aid and empowerment programs worldwide.

Prior to his this role, Jedd served in the White House as a Special Assistant to President George W. Bush, leading the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. In this post, he oversaw reform efforts across the government to make community- and faith-based groups central partners in all Federal efforts to aid the needy, from prisoner reentry to global AIDS. As described by the Harvard Political Review, these reforms “fundamentally changed the government’s strategy for improving the lives of the downtrodden…”

Previously, Jedd held a range of posts in the California State Legislature. He also helped establish the California Community Renewal Project, which strengthens nonprofits in some of the state’s most challenged communities. He has worked, studied and served in more than thirty countries, with organizations ranging from Price-Waterhouse in Moscow to Christian Life Bangladesh.

Books written by Jedd include Upended and Four Souls. He also writes articles and op-eds for publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post to Comment Magazine, and engages radio interviews with both faith-based and mainstream outlets, from NPR and Al Jazeera to Moody Radio. Jedd’s most recent book, Becoming Home, offers a brief-yet-rich exploration of how families and communities can embrace vulnerable children with wisdom and love through adoption, foster care, mentoring and more.

Beth Bradford

Beth Bradford

Beth Bradford is an international child protection consultant with twenty-five years of experience. She is currently the Technical Director for Changing the Way We Care. Her work with both government and non-government partners has focused on child protection and care systems development. More specifically, Beth’s work has focused on integrated case management, social work practice, deinstitutionalization and alternative care, holistic early childhood development, and family strengthening. Beth has experience in qualitative evaluation, program design and management, designing standards and guidance, and curriculum development and training.

Claudia Aguirre

Claudia Aguirre

Claudia Aguirre is the founder of Overcoming Barriers Foundation, a Salvadoran nonprofit organization whose purpose is to promote inclusion and to share the love of God and the message of hope to people affected by disabilities and their families. She’s also the Regional In-Country Coordinator from Joni and Friends International Disability Center.

In 1990, at the age of 11, Claudia had a diving accident at school which left a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. After years of rehabilitation she was able to go back to the French School in San Salvador and then she entered the University where she graduated in 2003 with a Degree in Economics and Business administration.

At a very young age, she became an advocate for people with disabilities. She and her family have been serving many families through Joni and Friends since 2009 and through Overcoming Barriers since 2016.

Her purpose is to be able to reach many people with disabilities all over the world through her testimony and to share the message of hope and love as she fulfills the purpose that God has in her life.

Tony Bolos

Tony Bolos

Tony Bolos is the Executive Director of New Hope Peru, an organization that works with orphaned and vulnerable children in Arequipa, Peru. New Hope Peru is currently transitioning from a residential care model to a family-based care model.

Prior to this, Tony was an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University where he taught Ethics and Philosophy of Science. He earned his PhD (2013) from the University of Edinburgh.

Emily Chapman Richards

Emily Chapman Richards

Emily Chapman Richards serves as Show Hope’s Executive Director. She has enjoyed watching Show Hope grow from a dream in her parents’ heart to an organization that has helped thousands of children come to know the love of a family. After earning her bachelor’s in International Studies and Religion from Baylor University, Emily continued her education while living abroad, graduating from Queen’s University Belfast with a Masters of Theology. Emily is married to Tanner, and together, they are the proud parents of three beautiful ladies—Eiley, Della, and Verity. Emily is a visionary and a dreamer and has long remained a passionate advocate for adoption and orphan care efforts.

Berni Kelly

Berni Kelly

Professor Berni Kelly is Chair of Disability Studies and Social Work and Director of the Disability Research Network at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. Her main research interests are in the areas of disability studies, care leaving, transitions to adult life and participatory research methods. She has recently completed studies of disabled children and young people living in and leaving alternative care, safeguarding disabled children and adults and therapeutic support for people with learning disabilities who are victims of sexual violence in NI. She is supervising two international doctoral studies on youth with disabilities leaving alternative care and has recently completed a feasibility study of leaving care in Africa, including a focus on the intersections of gender, culture and disability.

Daren Jones

Daren Jones

Daren Jones is the Associate Director of Training  and Consultation Services with the Karyn Purvis  Institute of Child Development (KP ICD). Daren’s  main focus is instructing professionals working  with children who have experienced trauma, in  Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®).  Since Daren joined the Purvis Institute in 2014, he  has been an integral part of teaching and spreading  TBRI® across the U.S. and throughout the world.  Daren earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work  from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He began his career as a behavior instructor of a  therapeutic day treatment program serving  children and youth who could no longer function in a regular academic school  setting. After serving as a behavior instructor, Daren decided to obtain his Masters  in Social Work from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. Daren spent 12  years serving youth and families within residential and foster care settings as a  direct-care worker, residential group home supervisor and trainer, before  beginning his work with the KP ICD.  

Daren is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Counseling & Counselor Education at Texas  Christian University in Fort Worth, TX, where he resides with his wife Katie Jones,  daughter Ruby, and son Finn. 

Karen Buckwalter

Karen Buckwalter

Karen Doyle Buckwalter, LCSW, is Director of Clinical Practice at Chaddock, a multi-service agency providing a range of residential, educational, and community-based services for youth, birth through age 21, and their families. While at Chaddock, she has been instrumental in the development of an innovative residential program for adolescents, ages 8 – 16, with Attachment Disorders and Complex Trauma. One of the only programs of its kind serving older adolescents, Chaddock’s Developmental Trauma and Attachment Program® (DTAP®) has served youth from 33 different states in the U.S. originating from 18 different countries.

Karen is a Registered Play Therapy Supervisor and a Theraplay Trainer and Supervisor. She has more than 30 years of experience working with children, adolescents and families. She has co-authored peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters as well as articles which have appeared in Adoption Today and Fostering Families Today Magazines. Her first book, Attachment Theory in Action, edited with Debbie Reed, was released in 2017 and she also hosts the “Attachment theory In Action” podcast. Her latest book,  Raising The Challenging Child, co-authored with Debbie Reed and Wendy Lyons Sunshine released in January 2020. 

Karen is a wife, mother and grandmother and outside of work you will find her hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Carolinas.

Kyriakos Demetriou

Kyriakos Demetriou

Dr Kyriakos Demetriou is a lecturer in Special and Inclusive education at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus. He holds a PhD in Inclusive Education from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom. He worked as a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow and as a Lecturer (2016-2019) in Early Childhood Studies (Inclusive Education) at Liverpool Hope University in the United Kingdom between 2015-2019. He is a qualified primary school teacher and has taught in several mainstream and special schools both in Cyprus and England. His research interests relate to special educational needs, inclusion, play and disability, friendship and disability, cultural representations of disability, assistive technologies etc. His work has been published in a number of leading academic journals such as Early Child Development and Care, the International Journal of Disability, Development and Education etc.

Delia Pop

Delia Pop

Over the last 20 years, Delia provided her expertise and to government agencies, NGOs and other professionals in Europe, Africa and Latin America to reform child protection systems, with a focus on strengthening families and transitioning away from reliance on institutions. Delia is the Director of Tanya’s Dream fund, a time-bound initiative, seeking to catalyse renewed action and leverage new resources and commitments for the care reform in Bulgaria. Delia is the co-author of a number of publications focused on deinstitutionalisation, family strengthening, and family based alternative care, a gifted trainer with direct experience in working with children and families.

David Finn

David Finn

Dr. David M. Finn is a Professor of Special Education at Samford University and also serves as the School of Education International Director. Prior to coming to Samford, he directed several programs for infants, toddlers and school-age children who had significant disabilities.  His programs serving adults with disabilities included On-the-Job Training (OJT) and managed sub-minimum wage contracts for client employment opportunities.  After completing his doctorate, he held teaching and clinical positions at the University of Washington in Seattle, the University of Hawai’i at Mano’a (Honolulu) and UAB. Dr. Finn helped to start the first teacher certification program in special education and, at the same time, developed the Children’s Learning Center; a fully inclusive child development center.  David is a frequent keynote speaker at state, national and international conferences most recently in Beirut, Lebanon, Dubai and Taiwan.  His research interests include serving refugee children in the Middle East who have special needs,  Autism Spectrum Disorders, Educational Neuroscience,  and school safety.  His publications include a variety of tests for families of young children with special needs.

Melody Aguayo

Melody Aguayo

Dr. Melody Aguayo has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Ph.D. in Psychology.  She is the founder of Real Child Consulting, LLC that specializes in providing coaching and training to parents and organizations that caretake “at-risk” children.  She has spoken at many notable locations including CAFO, City of Orphans, Vanderbilt Neurological Symposium, and others.  She is also a parent of two children through adoption.  Her personal journey has compelled her into a professional world she wasn’t planning on being a part of.  She has a passion for helping hurting families and children turn their pain into purpose.

Johanna K.P. Greeson

Johanna K.P. Greeson

Johanna Greeson, PhD, MSS, MLSP, is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the Managing Faculty Director at the Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice, & Research. She is passionate about reforming the child welfare system, using research to build better futures for youth who age out of foster care, and realizing the power of connections to caring adults for all vulnerable youth. Her research agenda is resiliency-focused and based in the strengths and virtues that enable foster youth to not only survive but thrive. Dr. Greeson’s published work includes scholarly articles on natural mentoring, evidence-based practices for older youth in foster care, including independent living programming, residential group care, and intensive in-home therapy, low-income homeownership, child/adolescent traumatic stress, and domestic minor sex trafficking. Her work has been cited over 2,000 times in the scientific, peer-reviewed literature. She is the developer of Caring Adults ‘R’ Everywhere (C.A.R.E.), a novel, trauma-informed natural mentoring intervention for older youth in foster care, intended to heal the aging out crisis. Her TEDx Talk about C.A.R.E. has been viewed over 87,000 times. Dr. Greeson received her PhD in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009.

Daniela Bulgarelli

Daniela Bulgarelli

Daniela Bulgarelli is a developmental psychologist, particularly interested in: a) Effect of early childcare on children’s psychological development; b) Play and disability; c) Development of social cognition (Theory of Mind and emotion understanding) in typically and atypically developing populations, d) Development of communicative and linguistic competences; e) Development of empathic and prosocial competences. She is an assistant professor at the University of Turin, in Turin, Italy.

Serenella Besio

Serenella Besio

Serenella Besio is currently Full Professor of Special Education at the University of Bergamo, Italy. Formerly a speech therapist for children with cerebral palsy, she moved to the field of Assistive Technologies (mainly for learning and communication) where she worked both as a consultant and a researcher.

Maria Pallisera

Maria Pallisera

Dr. Maria Pallisera is a professor at the Department of Pedagogy in the University of Girona (Spain), where she teaches on the Social Education and Social Work degrees, and on the Masters programme in Diversity and Inclusive Education. She has researched and written about several issues related to social inclusion of people with disabilities (independent living, transition to adult life, supported employment), as well as inclusive research. Currently, she is involved in researching about supporting people with intellectual disabilities to improve their social networks. See https://recercadiversitat.wixsite.com/diversitat for more details about her work.

SYMPOSIUM AT A GLANCE

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The content will only be available between May 5 – May 12. Be sure to set aside time that week to go through it as a team!

May 12th will be a day of live, interactive content, including webinars and small-group coaching tables.

Early Registration

$179.00 – Now until March 31st

General Registration

$199.00 – April 1st – May 5th

Yes! Whether you are attending independently or with a group or organization, the cost is the same! If you are registering on behalf of a group, you will receive a special code which will allow the rest of your group members to register for free.

Our apologies, the scholarship application has closed. The deadline was April 9th, 2021.

You’ll receive an email prior to the event to download a  facilitator’s guide. This guide will have all the information you need to lead your team through the day.

You can email the Research Center Team with any further questions.

Join us, as we learn how to better help vulnerable children and families...together.