What common thread runs through our social crises of homelessness, incarceration, human trafficking, and crisis pregnancies? Many of the youth and adults who are end up in those crises were previously in foster care. Come and learn how all these systemic, social issues overlap and how you can be a part of the solution.

Who Is This Conference For?

  • People who want to support the adoptive/foster care community
  • People who are exploring foster care and adoption
  • Post-placement families who want to learn more and connect with other families
  • Everyone who is interested in learning more about the social crises in our city caused by the loss of family: homelessness, trafficking, incarceration, and crisis pregnancies.

February 2, 2019
9am - 3:30pm
Grace Covenant Church
$25/person
Childcare available but limited. $10/family

Keynote Speaker

Bob Goff is the two time New York Times Best-Selling Author of both Love Does and Everybody Always, Honorary Consul to the Republic of Uganda, and an attorney who founded Love Does- a nonprofit human rights organization operating in Uganda, India, Nepal, Iraq and Somalia. He’s a lover of balloons, cake pops and helping people pursue their big dreams. Bob’s greatest ambitions in life are to love others, do stuff, and most importantly hold hands with his wife Sweet Maria Goff and spend time with their amazing kids. For more see BobGoff.com and LoveDoes.org

And Special Guest Speaker

Henry “Hank” Whitman, DFPS Commissioner – Henry “Hank” Whitman spent 22 years with the Texas Department of Public Safety. A decade of that time was spent serving as a Texas Ranger. In 2011, he was named Chief of the Texas Rangers. During his tenure with the Rangers, Whitman created and supervised the elite Texas Ranger Reconnaissance Team and led border security operations. Whitman is also a military veteran having served in the United States Marine Corps. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Law Enforcement from Southwest Texas State University and a Master of Public Administration in Criminal Justice from Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi.

Breakout Session Topics

THE CHALLENGES & BLESSINGS OF BEING A SINGLE FOSTER PARENT

A discussion based on real-life experiences of the ups and downs of being a single foster parent and the hope that you can welcome a child into a single parent household.

Speaker: Hailie Graves

UNDERSTANDING HOW THE PAST OF THE MARGINALIZED INFLUENCES THEIR PRESENT

A look at how early childhood trauma impacts an individuals body, brain, behavior and belief system. Understanding why we must shift our question from “what’s wrong with you” to “What happened to you” when looking at the most wounded in our communities.

Speaker: Anna Valdez

SOUL-CARE: CARING FOR YOUR FAMILY MEANS CARING FOR YOURSELF

Many times we neglect ourselves because there is so much to do for others. Compassion Fatigue is a very real problem for volunteers and caregivers who spend time with people and children from hard places. Learn how to find rest and rejuvenation daily so that you can continue serving and caring for others!

Speaker: Austin Schrag and Madison Short

GRIEF AND LOSS: MAKING THE GOODBYE POSITIVE

You put your heart and soul into caring for a child. So it can be really hard even devastating when that child is removed from your home to be reunified or adopted. This panel will explore the ways to grieve the losses without losing hope.

Speakers: Brandon & Janice Reyes

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CHILD ENTERS THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM

Navigating the judicial child welfare system can be difficult. In this session, Judge Martinez-Jones, will shed light on the process every child goes through in her courtroom.

Speaker: Judge Martinez-Jones

MAKING THE HONEYMOON LAST: WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER YOU ADOPT

After a child has been adopted our world can seem to be turned upside down. This discussion will shed light on what to expect when your child has found their forever family.

Speakers: Kenneth & Danielle Camp

BIOLOGICAL FAMILY: WHO IS THE FAMILY OF THE CHILD I LOVE

Did you know that MOST children in the system will be reunified with families members? The stories of biological family members are often the last to be told and then disregarded. Learn more about WHO the families are that have children in our system.

Speakers: Sharla Megilligan and Tonya Fulkrod

HOW CAN MY CHURCH GET INVOLVED

If you have a growing interest to get your church involved by ministering to foster and adoptive families, join this breakout as we discuss the process of building a vibrant church ministry that meets the needs of children and their families.

Speaker: Meghann Presley

HOW OUR SOCIAL ISSUES OVERLAP: BROKEN FAMILY AND RELATIONSHIPS THE ROOT CAUSE

Did you know former foster youth make up 40% of our homeless neighbors and 88% of those caught up in sex trafficking? 50% of foster care youth will be arrested by the age of 17 and 43% of girls and women will experience crisis pregnancies. Hear from a panel of experts in each of these social issue areas on how their ministries end up working with former foster youth, and how we as a community can do a better job of working together solve the problem “upstream” in a way that can transform lives for good.

Speakers: Matt Kouri Facilitates Panel of Experts from Other Organizations

HOW DO I GET ENGAGED: THE 5 NEEDS OF FOSTER CARE

Not everyone can be a foster parent, but there are many different opportunities to serve in the foster care community. This discussion highlights the five areas of need in foster care today.

Speaker: Brandon and Janice Reyes

Track 1: Exploring Foster Care or Adoption

SESSION 1:

  • 5 Needs of Foster Care
  • The Challenges and Blessings of a Single Foster Parent
  • What Happens to a Child and Family Entering the Child Welfare System

SESSION 2:

  • How Can I get My Church Involved?
  • How Our Social Issues Overlap: Broken Family and Relationships the Root Cause
  • Steps to Fostering or Adoption

Track 2: Post-placement Families and Caregivers

SESSION 1:

  • The Challenges and Blessings of A Single Foster Parent
  • Grief and Loss: Making the Goodbye Positive
  • Understanding How the Past of the Marginalized Influences their Present
  • Soul-Care: Caring For Your Family Means Caring for Yourself

SESSION 2:

  • Who is the Family of the Child I Love
  • Making the Honeymoon Last: What To Expect After You Adopt
  • How Our Social Issues Overlap: Broken Family and Relationships the Root Cause

Track 3: Our Community’s Most Pressing Social Issues

SESSION 1:

  • Understanding How the Past of the Marginalized Influences their Present.
  • Soul-Care: Caring For Your Family Means Caring for Yourself
  • What Happens to A Child and Family when they Enter in the Welfare System

SESSION 2:

  • How Does Foster Care Impact Our Community
  • Steps to Fostering or Adoption

About Our Breakout Speakers

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Honorable Aurora Martinez Jones

Judge Martinez Jones is part of the new court in Travis County, the 459th.  As a County Associate Judge, she has led local reform efforts to provide a more compassionate, trauma-informed and efficient process towards child welfare cases. She also worked as a sole practitioner, representing families that needed a voice, with hands-on experience in the diverse legal issues that have come before the court.

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Brandon and Janice Reyes

Janice and Brandon Reyes are foster and adoptive parents with ten years of marriage and three kids, ages 9, 9, and 8. They met as teachers of inner city youth in Bronx, NY, where they fell in love and discovered a shared joy in caring for kids from hard places. After having two biological boys nearly one year apart, in 2015 they adopted their daughter after a nine-month foster care placement. Janice is a TBRI Practitioner and Family Mentor with Fostering Hope Austin. Brandon is a Fire Protection and Plumbing Engineer and enjoys writing and performing spoken word. Brandon and Janice are active in their church and enjoy supporting and advocating for the vulnerable whenever they can.

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Anna Valdez

A native Texan, Anna Valdez lived in Monterrey, Mexico for the past 5 years as a Program Coordinator for the international organization, Back2Back Ministries. She is a TBRI practitioner and mentor. Along with being a Program Coordinator, Anna worked as a caregiver in an orphanage in Monterrey. There she was the primary caregiver for 17 teenage girls in a span of 5 years with whom she successfully applied the TBRI principles. Under the direction of nationally known social worker and author, Jayne Schooler, she trained families, other caregivers and professional staff in the Trauma Competent Caregiver curriculum. Anna managed 9 other trainers and was on the ground floor of developing and translating the curriculum. Her experience includes developing group specific training for volunteers, support groups for foster parents and caregivers, and helping institutions move through the continuum of trauma informed care. Anna is fluent in Spanish and taught high school English before moving to Mexico.

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Kenny and Danielle Camp

Kenny and Danielle Camp have one son, eight-years-old, adopted through foster care. Kenny has two self-published books about foster care and adoption. He also creates content for his blog and podcast found at KennethACamp.com. Danielle is a gifted full-time mom and homeschool teacher. Both continue to work with families as they advocate for foster care and adoption. Kenny and Danielle lived in Thailand for six months in 2007 as volunteer missionaries. They fully expected to return soon to serve long term. Little did they know that God had a different plan for their lives. In 2010 after attending a missions conference, God spoke to their hearts about adopting through foster care. January 2011 they received their foster care license and by June 2011 they had their first, and only, foster placement. 15 months later they stood before a judge committing to become the parents of an almost two-year-old son.

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Meghann Presley

Meghann Presley came to Fostering Hope Austin through a circuitous route. She and her husband attended A Future and a Hope several years ago, and after much discussion and prayer, they (along with their three children) became a licensed foster family. Her experience on church staff for many years, most recently as the Director of Children’s Ministry for her home church, combined with her hands-on knowledge of TBRI practices through fostering, has equipped her well to provide support to the Fostering Hope Austin team and to focus on ministry development with each of our partner churches.

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Hailie Graves

Hallie Graves is a 30-something from the great Austin, Texas. Not a fan of the linear life, Hallie’s a speaker and writer, a lawyer with a boutique law firm, the Outreach Director for Polished Austin (@polishedaustin), and a #singlefostermom with infant placements, and is overly interested in just about everything. Hallie is passionate about encouraging people to live fully in light of the grace and freedom of Jesus and to use every ounce of all they’ve been given in this life. She loves the Austin library, Broadway shows, queso, yoga, words, and her people. Hallie’s involved in the Austin Stone Community Church, Foster Village, and The Archibald Project, and has degrees in voice, physics, and law.

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Matt Kouri

Matt Kouri is a 3-time adoptive parent with his wife, Julie. He is TBRI trained and an ETC trainer. Matt was appointed, by Governor Abbott, to chair the DFPS Council Committee. Professionally, Matt is the Founder and CEO of Good Works Advisors.

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Madison Short

Madison Short is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Intern and National Certified Counselor who works for Door of Hope Counseling in New Braunfels where she is supervised by Dr. Linda Homeyer PhD, LPC-S,RPT-S. Madison specializes in trauma counseling and works with children as well as adults. Madison is a Texan native but enjoys doing work all over the globe. She spent her undergraduate studies at Abilene Christian University, and earned her Masters in Community Counseling at Texas State University.

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Sharla Megilligan

Sharla has a passion for seeing the Church approach foster care holistically. She adopted twin boys from Haiti in 2006. She has founded the nonprofit Markarios, a socially conscious coffee shop Dominican Joe, a program for youth aging out of foster care called Ninety-Nine & One, and Restoration Collective. She studied biology and secondary education at Cedarville University and public policy and nonprofit management at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

Austin Schrag

Austin Schrag

Austin Schrag is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate, Licensed Professional Counselor-Intern, and Nationally Certified Counselor who works for Door of Hope Counseling in New Braunfels and The Phoenix Center in Marble Falls. He is supervised by Marshall Lyles, LMFT-S, LPC-S, RPT-S. Austin specializes in couple and trauma counseling and works with children, families, and adults. Austin’s undergraduate studies were at Wheaton College, and he earned his Master in Professional Counseling with a focus in Marriage and Family Counseling at Texas State University.