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Professionals Symposium [clear filter]
Friday, July 25


Improving Child Welfare Services for Gender-Expansive Children, Youth and Families
A prevalence of gender-expansive children and youth involved with child welfare systems is one of the sobering realities of a binary gender system. A combination of family misunderstanding, school push-out, and social isolation, along with ensuing mental health challenges results in a familiar pathway for these vulnerable young people. The presenters will provide an overview of efforts to support gender-expansive children and youth and their families in the child welfare system. Presenters and participants will discuss their experiences with the system and its partners, as well as local policy and practice. The dialogue will inform local, state and national system reform efforts.


Bill Bettencourt

Bill Bettencourt, MA is Senior Associate, Center for the Study of Social Policy.  He leads the get R.E.A.L initiative – to improve healthy sexual and identity development for children and youth involved in the child welfare system. Bill has 40 years of experience working in the... Read More →
avatar for Shannan Wilber, Esq

Shannan Wilber, Esq

Youth Policy Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights
Shannan Wilber, Esq is the Youth Policy Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Prior to her current position, she represented individual children at Legal Advocates for Children and Youth, engaged in policy advocacy and impact litigation to reform child welfare and juvenile... Read More →

Jill Jacobs MS

Jill Jacobs MS brings over 30 years of experience in multi-cultural community based health and social services organizations. She has a Masters degree in Health Services Administration. She has been the Executive Director of Family Builders since 1996. Jill is a national leader and... Read More →

Friday July 25, 2014 9:30am - 10:55am
Soda Center – Claey's Lounge St Mary's College of California, 1928 St Marys Rd, Moraga, CA 94556


Building Bridges: Working with Families of Gender-Expansive Youth in Child Welfare Contexts
Frequently, families of gender-expansive youth struggle with their child's gender expression or identity. In some cases, this may be the reason the child has entered the system to begin with. Child welfare providers are often challenged by the need to support a child's authentic experiences of gender while at the same honoring a family’s own struggle with the issue. This session will examine ways in which child welfare professionals can balance these two aspects, developing language, resources and tools for helping both the young person and their caregivers move towards a closer understanding of one another's needs and perspectives. The session will also examine the degree to which differing levels of family acceptance, or lack thereof, can impact the ultimate health and well-being of a gender-expansive child.


Amy Cipolla-Stickles

Amy Cipolla-Stickles has long been involved in struggles for equity and justice for children and families impacted by the foster care system, transracial adoptees, teenage parents, LGBT and people who are financially unstable. Amy has more than 15 years’ experience in multicultural... Read More →
avatar for J. Jessie Rose Cohen, LCSW

J. Jessie Rose Cohen, LCSW

Director of Community Based Clinical Services and Training, University California of San Francisco
J. Jessie Rose Cohen, LCSW (pronouns "J"/she/her) has worked with children and families nearing twenty years. J. is a TransNonBinary identified clinician. Trained at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, J. serves as Director of Community based Clinical... Read More →

Friday July 25, 2014 1:40pm - 3:05pm
Soda Center – Claey's Lounge St Mary's College of California, 1928 St Marys Rd, Moraga, CA 94556


Taking a Closer Look: Children and Youth in Varied Systems of Care
Building on the issues raised in the session above, this workshop will feature an exploration of the challenges of providing comprehensive and coherent care for gender-expansive kids in community-based and child welfare contexts. How does trauma impact care priorities and approaches? What role does cultural humility play in working with gender diversity issues? What are strategies for engaging caregivers in the gender-related care and support of a child? What are the challenges of accessing a full range of services on behalf of a client? Bringing together experienced professionals from multiple disciplines and child welfare contexts, the workshop aims to give attendees practical tools and resources for working with some of our most vulnerable young people.


Bernadette Ebony Brown

Bernadette Ebony Brown is a senior program specialist at National Center on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) and the project manager for Improving Permanency for LGBT Youth. This project seeks to strengthen the connection between out-of-home LGBT youth and their families, so that these... Read More →
avatar for Amber Merziotis

Amber Merziotis

LGBTQ Family Advocate, Family Builders
Amber Mertziotis joyfully joined Family Builders in April 2013 as the LGBTQ Family Advocate for the Youth Acceptance Collaborative. Amber studied Counseling Psychology with a specialization in somatic psychology from John F. Kennedy University. Amber is passionate about using a holistic... Read More →

Kellen R. Grayson, LMFT, PsyD

Kellen R. Grayson LMFT, PsyD is a Doctor of Psychology and also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Dr. Grayson is currently a clinician at WestCoast Children’s Clinic working with youth placed in foster care or residential settings. He also has a private practice in Old Oakland... Read More →

Captain Young

Captain Young is the LGBTQ Youth Advocate at Our Space, a queer/trans youth center in the East Bay.  Our Space a Bay Area youth center which holds the experiences, strengths and needs of youth impacted by institutions at its core, and recognizes these youth as fierce love change... Read More →

Friday July 25, 2014 3:15pm - 4:40pm
Soda Center – Claey's Lounge St Mary's College of California, 1928 St Marys Rd, Moraga, CA 94556