Breakout Sessions

Recharge + Refuel

A Guide to Epic Foster Parent Night Outs (FPNO)

Lonnie + Cindy Wendling Journey Bible Fellowship

Feeling burnt out, but unsure how to prioritize self-care amidst the demands of foster parenting? You're not alone! Join us for an interactive session exploring the importance of foster parent night outs and how to host successful events that truly refuel your spirit and re-energize your commitment. Hear about why these FPNO matter, planning pro-tips and the importance of building partnerships in the community.

From Hospital to Home:

Fostering Connection & Hope for Families Caring for Medically Complex Children

Hallie Graves, The Well: Foster Advocacy Ministry

Opening your heart and home to a child in foster care is an act of immense love and compassion. When that child also has complex medical needs, the journey can feel overwhelming. This session empowers parents and professionals with the knowledge, resources, and support they need to confidently care for these children.

Healing Kid’s Brains, Emotions and Behaviors

An Introduction to TBRI®

Amanda Herron, LMSW, TBRI®, Educator Nurturing Change

Learn about trauma’s impact on the brain and how parents can use Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) to parent the children in their home. Get an intro to the Connecting, Empowering and Correcting principles that make up TBRI® and learn about resources and additional support.

The Loneliest Generation:

Addressing Social Isolation in Gen Z to Keep Kids out of Foster Care

Cheyenne Erickson, Director of Safe Families Austin

Gen Z is reportedly the "loneliest generation" and they are now becoming parents. How will the loneliness epidemic impact this new generation of parents? Can the family preservation space be effective in preventing child abuse and neglect by working to help solve the problem of loneliness? Come learn about how our community can wrap around families to prevent them entering the child welfare system.

Web Wisdom

Keeping Kids Safe Online

Dr. Season Mussey, UnboundNow Austin

The statistics are alarming surrounding vulnerable children and their involvement in exploitation and human trafficking. Some studies estimate that upwards of 80% of identified trafficking victims have reported some involvement in the child welfare system. As parents, we have the ability to change these numbers. In this session, families will learn to identify potential risk factors, early signs of trafficking, and be given tools on how to respond in a trauma-informed approach.

Partners in Permanency

How Foster Parents Can Support Family Reunification

Chrystal Smith & Aimee Hill, Foster Village

“It takes a village.” Just as there is a need to come alongside children in foster care and their foster families, the same need exists to come alongside their first caregivers - their birth parents. When foster parents and community members walk alongside reunifying families, isolation ends, families are supported and critical gaps are bridged. 

Hear from some of the “Partner Parents” who have participated in reunification after foster care and some of the lessons they have learned along the way.

Beyond “Happily Ever After”

Adapting Parenting + Prayer for Adopted Adolescents

Dr. Brooke Wagen Fostering Hope Board

Opening your heart and home to foster or adopted children is an act of incredible love, but the journey doesn't end at "happily ever after." As these children blossom into teenagers, they naturally push towards independence, often leaving parents navigating complex emotions alongside the joy of watching them grow. This panel discussion brings together experienced foster and adoptive parents to openly share their experiences, challenges, and triumphs in supporting their teens' journeys toward independence.

Fighting For Families

A Holistic Approach to Wrapping Around Families Reunifying after Removal

Judge Ryan Larson, Family Recovery Court (FRC)

What does it look like to serve families in the courtroom? Successful reunification is possible with wrap-around support that includes the professionals involved in their case. The Family Recovery Court of Williamson County provides that support for parents who are working towards reunification after removal. Judge Larson and members of the FRC team will share some of the wins and challenges of working to fight for families upstream.

Debunking the Myths + Stigma of Foster Care

Real-Life Stories & Tools for Your Foster/Adoption Journey

Karen Goldapp, LCSW, Lakeway EMDR

Spend time with veteran foster/adoptive parents as we debunk adoption myths, share real-life triumphs and relatable struggles, and equip you with practical tips and resources. Discover anxiety-busting strategies and tools to understand "behind-the-behavior" needs, book recommendations, effective therapies, and ways to create lasting belonging. We'll also unveil resources we wish we'd known about sooner, all while dismantling foster care stigma and empowering you to build a healing, therapeutic environment for your family.

The Unspoken Language of Trauma:

Recognizing Grief Behaviors in Children & How to Support Them

Megan Zellner, The Settlement Home for Children

Does your child's behavior leave you feeling lost and disconnected? Are you yearning for a deeper connection, but logic seems to fall short? If so, you're not alone. Many parents of children who have experienced trauma face this challenge. This session will help you decode the language of grief, bridge the disconnect and stock your parental toolbox.

Out of the System, Not Out of Mind:

Successfully Supporting Youth Transition out of Foster Care

Marie Ezell, Founder of Angel in Me, Inc.

While foster care ends, the need for love, support, and guidance doesn't. This session explores how we can bridge the gap, providing essential, lifelong resources and skills for young adults leaving the system. Discover how collaboration across organizations and individuals can pave the way for successful transitions, equipping youth with the confidence and tools they need to thrive. Marie brings her own lived experience to the table as we discuss how to best support this aging out demographic.

Helping All Children Feel Safe:

Using TBRI® in Your Children’s Ministry

Lynn Floyd, Executive Director of Fostering Hope

Discover how Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) can transform your church's children's ministry! This session equips pastors, leaders, and volunteers to create safe, secure spaces where all children feel seen, heard, and understood. Learn practical TBRI tools to de-escalate challenging behaviors, build connections, and foster genuine learning and growth. Leave empowered to nurture resilient, thriving young hearts and unlock the full potential of your church's ministry.

Beyond the Labels; Beyond the Stories:

A Panel Celebrating the Strengths and Resilience of Adoptees

June Waters, Adoptee + Adoption Recruiter; Katrina Torres, Adoptee; West Kouri, Adoptee

Hear directly from adoptees about their unique journeys, navigating identity, and forging connections. This panel discussion will unveil the realities of adoption, challenge perspectives, and empower you to advocate for a more inclusive world. Leave inspired by their resilience, strength, and the hope they bring to the adoption community.

Be the Change:

Unveiling the Transformative Power of Restorative Practices in Child Welfare

Cortney Jones, Change1

Join us for a dynamic workshop exploring cutting-edge approaches to supporting children, families, and professionals within the child welfare system. Discover the power of restorative practices, fostering unshakeable resilience, and cultivating nurturing environments. Leave equipped with practical tools to build stronger, more connected communities. Be part of a movement redefining support and restoration for a brighter future for all. Don't miss this opportunity to ignite positive change!

Embracing the Imperfection:

Reframing our Expectations in Foster Care and Adoption

Stephanie Acker, Foster & Adoptive Mama and Advocate, The Dwelling Place

As foster, adoptive and kinship families, we know expectations rarely match reality. Join us in exploring how to embrace the unexpected! This session equips you with tools to navigate shifting expectations calmly, build respectful partnerships, and mitigate power struggles with your kiddos and co-parents. Discover how, even when plans change, you can achieve your shared goals and nurture deeper connection within your family. Leave feeling empowered to tackle challenges and thrive in the beautiful chaos of fostering and adoption.

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Mentors Matter:

Why Supporting Youth in Care Goes Beyond Fostering

Mike Jones, Austin Angels

Aging out of foster care can feel like jumping off a cliff without a parachute. Mentors become that safety net, providing crucial support, guidance, and hope as youth navigate independence. This session will dive into the tangible impact mentors have on their emotional well-being, stability and success. Explore practical ways to become a mentor, and leave empowered to make a life-changing difference for a young person in or newly-out of care.

Finding Your Own Village:

How to Seek Community + Discover Resources that Support Your Foster Care Journey

Lisa Ho + Sharon Johnson

Feeling like a solo superhero in the foster care world? You're not alone! Join us for an empowering session led by seasoned foster parents on building community and uncovering hidden resources. We'll explore practical strategies for connecting with other foster families, navigating the support system, and accessing essential tools to thrive in your journey. Leave feeling equipped, connected, and inspired to create a village that sustains both you and your family.

Eighteen is Not the End:

What Former Foster Youth (FFY) Want You To Know

Jordan Hope Vera, Fostering Hope

Join a powerful panel discussion featuring former foster youth who've navigated the challenges and triumphs of aging out of care. They'll share their unfiltered perspectives on what truly matters in supporting young adults transitioning into independence. Discover the critical gap in post-emancipation support and explore actionable strategies to build a lasting village for youth leaving the system. This session will ignite your compassion, equip you with practical tools, and inspire you to be a part of the movement ensuring no young person falls through the cracks.

The Theology of Adoption:

Applying Biblical Adoption to the Modern Child Welfare Crisis

Joshua Owen, Director of Ministry Development & Programs at Fostering Hope

This captivating session delves into the powerful theme of adoption within the Bible, revealing profound truths about God's character, our own identity, and the inherent value of every individual. Together, we'll embark on a journey of ways to apply the adoption theology compassionately to the current child welfare crisis.

Faith In Action:

Building a Foster and Adopt Ministry at Your Church

Mandy Ryniker, FAM Coordinator for Hope Chapel

We know that ministry matters! Imagine a church community where foster/adoptive families find unconditional love, practical support, and a sense of belonging. Join us as we explore the vital role dedicated ministries play in these families' lives. Discover heartfelt testimonies showcasing the impact of such support, and explore practical steps your church can take to build a thriving foster/adoptive family ministry.

I Said Yes!

Finding Your Place in the 5 Needs of Foster Care

Danny Cook, Fostering Hope Board & Kim Holtzclaw, Fostering Hope Regional Consultant

You’ve said yes to helping children and families … Now what? The needs are many in and around the foster care system. We believe everyone has a part to play. In this session, you will hear some of the many ways that YOU can get involved in our community.