AGENDA OCT 13 2020-10-12T17:27:15+00:00


Meet exhibitors virtually face-to-face and be eligible to win a giveaway. Exhibitors will be sharing about their organizations.



8:00 a.m. | Virtual Exhibit Hall Open
8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. | Meet the Exhibitors

Meet exhibitors virtually face-to-face and be eligible to win a giveaway. Exhibitors will be sharing information about their organization.

American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law • Auberle’s Ward Home and My Best Self Program • Educational Technology Consultants, Inc. • Forged in Fire • Insights Intervention • Inner Strength Foundation • Rethink Ed • Saddleback Educational Publishing

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. | General Session

Carmen M. Medina, Chief, Division of Student Services, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Harrisburg, Pa.
Amanda Dorris, Director, Bureau of Policy, Programs and Operations, Office of Children, Youth and Families, Department of Human Services, Harrisburg, Pa.

Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness Program Updates
Storm Camara, ECYEH State Coordinator, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Harrisburg, Pa.

“R.A.W. Tuba” — The Power of Overcoming, Resilience and Determination
Keynote Address by Richard Antoine White, D.M., New Mexico Philharmonic,, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M.
Participants will be inspired by “R.A.W. Tuba,” a documentary film about a Baltimore child who experienced intermittent homelessness, sleeping in abandoned houses, being bitten by rats and eating from trashcans. A child who, with the help of a dedicated group of people, went on to become the first African American in the world to receive a doctorate of music in tuba.

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. | Lunch Break

1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. | Concurrent Sessions

This session will familiarize professionals with the Pennsylvania Academic Career and Technical Training Alliance (PACTT) that serves court involved youth in foster care and youth experiencing homelessness. Learn about PACCT’s best practices that promote positive educational experiences for these court-involved youths, as well as its relationship with the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Humans Services and the Bureau of Juvenile Justice.

Presented by Mary Ann Dziak, Adjudicated Youth Education Programs Consultant, Pennsylvania Academic Career and Technical Training Alliance, Harrisburg, Pa., and Jennifer M. Mongi, Program Director, SafeGuards Foster Care, Reading, Pa.

In this session, participants will hear from selected homeless liaisons about serving students experiencing homelessness. Strategies for conducting outreach, building family partnerships, McKinney-Vento identification, cultivating relationships, staff training, districtwide communication and coordination, community collaboration, overcoming barriers to meet students’ and families’ needs, and goal-setting with families experiencing homelessness will be shared.

Presented by Jeanne di Leonardo, Director, Family and School Connections, Belmont Charter Network, Philadelphia, Pa., Gary S. Kinnear, Coordinator of Special Education, School Psychologist, McKinney-Vento Liaison, ESSA Liaison, Jamestown Area School District, Jamestown, Pa., Lisette Rivera, Families in Transition Site Coordinator, Lancaster School District, Lancaster, Pa., and Britnee Weatherspoon, Social Services Coordinator, Home and School Visitor K-12, Clairton City School District, Clairton, Pa.

Mental health concerns are expanding at an alarming rate in today’s children and youth, which is especially problematic with the current state of our world and the pandemic’s negative impact. Anxiety and depression are being seen in very young children, and suicide/suicide attempt rates continue to rise. This session will focus on presenters’ observations and experiences working within a school setting as well as a private practice therapy setting. Participants will explore useful tools for school personnel and other professionals, strategies such as questions to ask struggling students, specific coping skills for young people, and how to navigate the mental health system to find the best pathway for help. Suicide prevention and possible differences in the warning signs displayed by students will be discussed. The session will conclude with a conversation about trauma specific to the homeless population and foster care youth, and the immediate effects of COVID-19 on these student populations.

Presented by Shannon Engles, District School Social Worker, Spring Grove Area School District, Spring Grove, Pa., and Kara Vojcsik, Social Services Coordinator, Homeless Liaison, South Eastern School District, Fawn Grove, Pa.

“Sesame Street” recently introduced new characters to their neighborhood. Lily, a child experiencing homelessness, and Karli, a child with “for now” parents. Sesame Street in Communities has also been responding to COVID-19 with new resources. Their website offers free, bilingual digital resources for service providers supporting families and children coping with a range of traumatic experiences including foster care, shelter insecurity and the multiple challenges presented by COVID-19. This workshop will offer an overview of the videos, storybook, printables, articles and professional development features on the site; and explore ways providers can implement them in their daily work with parents and children, whether virtual or in person.

Presented by Kama Einhorn, Senior Content Manager, Sesame Workshop, New York, N.Y.

2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. | Break

2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. | Concurrent Sessions

Attend this session, moderated by a representative from the National Association for Homeless Children and Youth and former school counselor, to learn how your colleagues are meeting the needs of students in foster care and students experiencing homelessness through building partnerships with various stakeholders, collaboration and communication within the school and coordination with community organizations with resources to share.

Presented by moderator Stacey Havlik, Associate Professor, Villanova University, Villanova, Pa., and panelists Melanie Leo, School Counselor, Bear Creek Community Charter School, Bear Creek Township, Pa., Mary Miller, ECYEH Site Coordinator, Social Worker, Riverview Intermediate Unit, Clarion, Pa., and Djuan Short, Clinical Coordinator, School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa.

Do you want to understand the basics of the foster care system in Pennsylvania? This session is a brief overview, a “sprint,” of the legal foundations of the Pennsylvania Juvenile Dependency System, designed specifically for educational professionals. A Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN) Legal Training Specialist who previously served as a parent attorney, will walk participants through the life of a dependency case from intake to closure. Discussion will include references to relevant state and federal child welfare laws, child welfare initiatives, and roles and terms specific to foster care and the greater child welfare system. Relevant implications due to COVID-19 will be noted.

Presented by Alyssa H. Holstay, Legal Training Specialist, Family Design Resources, Inc., Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network LSI, Harrisburg, Pa.

Designed as an overview for child welfare professionals, this session includes a walk-through of state and federal education law that affects children and youth in foster care. The training highlights topics related to early childhood education, enrollment, attendance, truancy and education decision-making. The purpose of this training is to provide an educational framework for child welfare professionals as they work to remove education barriers for children and youth in foster care and provide educational stability.

Presented by Lauren Peters, Legal Training Specialist, Family Design Resources, Inc., Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network LSI, Harrisburg, Pa., and Shawn Sangster, Legal Training Specialist, Family Design Resources, Inc., Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network LSI, Harrisburg, Pa.

The Sprout Initiative was a pilot project launched by Your Way Home in the academic year 2018 in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Designed to increase vulnerable children’s educational achievement by stabilizing their families’ housing, the project targeted school-aged children whose families were imminently at risk of homelessness as identified by the schools’ McKinney-Vento homeless liaisons. This presentation will demonstrate the programmatic and academic elements to the pilot, as well as the development by Villanova University of the new Annotated Research Measures for Homelessness Initiatives in Schools metric, which can demonstrate the link between housing stabilization and lifelong learning potential.

Presented by Lauren Miltenberger, Assistant Professor and Nonprofit Coordinator, Villanova University, Villanova, Pa., and Kayleigh Silver, Senior Manager, Your Way Home Montgomery County, Program Office of Housing and Community Development, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Norristown, Pa.

This session will provide participants with an overview of the legal issues associated with unaccompanied homeless youth (UHY), including the rights of UHY, how to best support UHY in legal matters, and the responsibilities and liabilities local education agencies have in educating and supporting this specific student population.

Presented by Leigh Dalton, Attorney, Stock and Leader, York, Pa.