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2017 Conference Presenters

2017 Child Abuse Prevention Month Conference

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens Conference Center

April 27th, 2017

Conference Schedule:  8:00am – 4:00pm


Keynote Speaker: Kristen Slack

Kristen Slack, Ph.D., is a Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She is the Co-P.I. of the School of Social Work’s Public Child Welfare Title IV-E Training Program, and the P.I. of the Wisconsin Child Welfare Professional Development System, the organization charged with training the State’s public child welfare workforce.  She is an Affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty, the Center on Financial Security, and the Institute of Clinical and Translational Research, and teaches courses in child abuse and neglect, child welfare systems, and social policy.

Dr. Slack has conducted research in three primary areas: (1) the interconnections among child protective services (CPS) systems and other social welfare and public assistance systems; (2) the link between various forms of economic hardship and child maltreatment; and (3) the evaluation of policies and programs designed to prevent maltreatment, or to enhance the safety, permanency, and well-being of children involved in public child welfare systems.  She has conducted numerous formative and implementation evaluations, as well as rigorously designed randomized controlled trials to assess policy or program impact.  She is currently a Co-P.I. on a randomized control trial designed to test the impact of an economic support intervention on reducing the risk of child maltreatment and CPS system involvement.  She has methodological expertise in survey design, use of administrative data in research, and the issues involved with linking survey, program, and administrative data.


Morning Speaker: Janice Gruendel

Janice Gruendel, Ph.D., has 35 years of applied social science experience crafting state and local policy and practice guidance focused on early childhood through the young adulthood years. She worked for the State of Connecticut as a senior executive for over 16 years, serving under five governors. She served as former governor M. Jodi Rell as her Senior Policy Advisory for Early Childhood.  Gruendel completed her last state tour of service as Deputy Commission for Operations at the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. She also brings nine years in the non-profit research, policy and advocacy sector, as co-founder and co-president of CT Voices for Children. She served in the business sector for four years as Vice President for Education and Technology at Rabbit Ears Productions and now heads her own small business as its founder.
Upon leaving state service in October of 2013, Gruendel returned to public consulting where she currently works with the Center for the Study of Social Policy, the Institute for Child Success, and several United Ways. She serves as a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Child Success in Greenville, SC and as a Fellow at the Edward Zigler Center at Yale University.  Gruendel is also a member of the Harvard Center on the Developing Child’s Frontiers of Innovation initiative, and she is active in the Pay for Success arena with a special emphasis in early childhood and programs for mothers with maternal depression.
She has published widely, most recently in partnership with the Institute for Child Success and the Association of Public Human Services Administrators with a focus on translating the evolving neuroscience of development into useful policy and practice guidance for state and local jurisdictions. She also worked with both the National Governors Association on the application of two-generation policy and research.  Recently, she worked as Subject Matter Expert with the Public Consulting Group assisting the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in North Carolina to develop a strategic plan for investing $40 million over 10-15 years to improve early childhood outcomes.
Dr. Gruendel received her Ph.D. from Yale University in Developmental Psychology. She also holds a Masters’ Degree in Educational Psychology from the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. Her B.A. degree in Sociology was awarded by the University of Maryland, magna cum laude and she is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  Her husband is a recently retired Judge of the Connecticut Appellate Court who continues in the judicial system as Judge Trial Referee. They have three sons and six grandchildren.


Afternoon Speakers:

Teresa Rafael  

Teresa Rafael, MSW, has been Executive Director of the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds since 2002. She began her career working in child welfare in Alabama for eight years, focused on child protective services, foster care and adoption. She devoted the rest of her career to extensive work in the private sector focused on strengthening families to prevent child abuse and neglect. She previously served as executive director of two state-wide organizations and was vice-president of a national child abuse prevention organization. As Regional Vice President at Children’s Home Society of Washington, she was responsible for a $5,000,000 budget and programs such as residential treatment, adoption support, foster care, counseling and parenting education and support programs. To help bring a focus on prevention to this hundred-year-old organization, she led the development of a Family Resource Center and home visiting program and helped the agency begin to partner with parents in all aspects of the work. She was responsible for a $10,000,000 five-year Comprehensive Child Development Research Project funded through the US Head Start Bureau, which was part of the research basis for the current Early Head Start program. She was a founding board member of Family Support Washington and later served as a consultant for numerous state and national organizations.

She holds undergraduate degrees in Social Work and Sociology, completed one year of independent study at Stanford University and earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Washington with an emphasis on social service administration and organizational development.

Her approach includes community organizing and management, strong partnerships with researchers, practitioners and parent leaders and working across all levels of the ecological model. She and others at the Alliance bring this approach to addressing one of the most challenging issues we face – that of helping to prevent child neglect.

Corey Best

Corey B. Best is first, a dedicated father to his amazing Son Corvin.  He is originally from Washington, DC who now resides in Florida.  This is where Corey began his transformation into leadership training, systems building, family engagement, promoting protective factors, social equality and highlighting “good enough parenting” for those impacted by the child welfare system.

Mr. Best is commonly known as leader that brings a combination of lived and professional experience as he organizes for child welfare improvements.  His innovative style and approach has led him to receive the 2016 Casey Family Programs Excellence for Children’s Award.  Most recently, he has spearheaded the Parent Partner Approach in his community.  This work has allowed Corey to take leadership the next level.  His perspective is that a leader must have a set a values and behaviors that embrace diversity, shared power and social contribution to see lasting changes in our child welfare system.

Through his involvement with re-building systems that are responsive to family engagement and optimal child and family development, Corey is Certified in the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Fund’s Bringing the Protective Factors to Life in Your Work; Prevent Child Abuse Florida’s Parent Leader Ambassador Training and hosting Community Café conversations. He has also served as a Technical Assistance Consultant for Georgetown University’s Adaptive Leadership team with a focus on social equality, organization change, family engagement and exploring Mental Models.  In short, Corey’s mission is to positively impact the lives of children, families and communities.


Registration: 8:00am-9:00am

Opening Session: 9:00-10:00am

  • Keynote Speaker:  Kristen Slack “Addressing the Connection between Poverty and Neglect”

Morning Sessions: 10:15-11:45am

  • Janice Gruendel “ Rethinking Young Child Neglect from a Science-Informed, Two-Generation Perspective”
  • Martha Kurgans- Handle with CARE, “Impact of Parental Addiction on Children”
  • Adrienne Griffin– Postpartum Support Virginia, Inc., “Impact of Parental Depression on Children”

Luncheon: 12:00 – 1:00pm: FACT Award

Networking: 1:00-1:30pm

Afternoon Sessions: 1:30-4:00pm

  • Teresa Rafael & Corey Best: Preventing Child Neglect Is More Than a Family Matter: It Takes All of Us”
  • A Virginia Initiative: Three Branch Institute
    • Carl Ayers, Director of Family Services, Virginia Department of Social Services
  • Creative Local Approaches
    • Reagan Eshleman, Healthy Families Blue Ridge
    • Ashley Graham, Healthy Families Central Virginia
    • Maria DeLalla, Healthy Families Northern Shenandoah Valley

Continental breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks included.  On-site exhibits.


Registration deadline is April 20th.

Conference registration is $58.  Payment by credit card only. No refunds.

No checks or cash will be accepted.  Purchase orders will not be issued for this event.


Online registration through EventBrite only.  Registration by phone is not available.



Overnight accommodations are available nearby at the Hampton Inn (5406 Glenside Dr. Richmond, VA 23228)

To reserve a room please call 804-756-1777 or click on the link below:


***click “add special rate codes” and enter code:  PCA


A limited number of rooms have been reserved at the special rate of $109 plus tax. Discounted hotel rates available through April 5th, or until block of rooms is full.