georgetownFour Kinship Center experts were key presenters last month at a Training Institute hosted by Georgetown University’s National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health at the University’s Center for Child and Human Development, Washington D.C. The agency’s two-part presentation left the audience of some of the nation’s most knowledgeable and influential children’s mental health professionals begging for more.

The five-day Institute highlighted the best systems of care for children who have mental health challenges or who are at risk for developing such problems. Kinship Center, a recognized national leader in training on child welfare and mental health, was invited to showcase its widely acclaimed practices in treating children’s mental health issues, and its specialty at working with families formed by adoption and guardianship.

Participating from Kinship Center were  Allison Maxon, LMFT, Regional Executive Director for Adoptions and Education in Kinship Center’s Orange County programs, Ron Huxley, LMFT, Director of Kinship Center’s Children’s Mental Health Clinic in San Luis Obispo County,  Debbie Schugg, Senior Supervisor from Kinship Center’s Wraparound Program in Monterey County, and Laura Ornelas, LCSW, Kinship Center Regional Mental Health Director for Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties.

“Being asked to participate was a real gift,” says Ornelas. “We entitled our presentation ‘Shifting the Mindset’ because we believed we would be sharing fairly revolutionary thoughts with those in positions of power from systems nationwide. We aimed to describe the importance of an agency’s commitment to education for both professionals and parents in a way that leads to the lessening of trauma for children going through the foster care system.”

Kinship Center’s unique understanding of the special issues faced by children who come from backgrounds of abuse, neglect and abandonment makes it possible to provide successful clinical therapies and education for traumatized children and their new adoptive, guardian or extended relative families. In the past decade Kinship Center has also trained nearly 7,000 child welfare and mental health professionals in the U.S. on its successful clinical models. The agency’s practice of simultaneously training parents and industry professionals creates a common framework and language to address the needs of children who have been impacted by trauma.  Kinship Center’s Georgetown presentation profiled effective practices and highlighted the success of Kinship Center’s four mental health clinics, which serve more than 600 children throughout California each week.

Many attendees lauded Kinship Center’s presentation as a powerful and unforgettable experience. “We planned an experience rather than a lecture,” explains Ornelas, “knowing that change happens through human beings on a visceral level, moving them personally into a call for action on behalf of children.  From our attendees’ cheering to crying to swarming our presenting team at the end, we believe we accomplished what we set out to do. We’ve already received requests for more from the District of Columbia, from New York and from Michigan.

“‘Shifting the Mindset’ may well translate into changed practice for these participants. Considering their influential positions, this will be a very good thing for our nation’s children.”

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