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June 2007Vol. 8, No. 5National Conference Focuses on Protecting Children and Promoting Healthy Families

The 16th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect was held April 16-21, 2007, at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, OR. More than 1,600 professionals attended the conference, which was sponsored by the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect within the Children's Bureau, Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Children's Bureau worked with more than 40 Federal and non-Federal partners as national co-sponsors in planning the theme and agenda for the conference. The support of the local host agency, the Center for Improvement of Child and Family Services, Portland State University Graduate School of Social Work, and an extensive list of national and local benefactors was critical to the event's success.

The conference theme, "Protecting Children, Promoting Healthy Families, and Preserving Communities," was selected to demonstrate the hope that every child will be loved and protected. In her welcome letter to attendees, Joan E. Ohl, Commissioner of ACYF, noted, "[The theme] confirms our goal of a healthy family for every child in which to grow and thrive. As the building block of society, the family serves as the basis for strong neighborhoods and supportive communities."

The opening plenary session featured a keynote address by William C. Bell, CEO and President of Casey Family Programs, emphasizing the role each conference participant plays in the effort to strengthen families and ensure all children grow up in safe, nurturing, and loving homes. J. Robert Flores, Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention at the U.S. Department of Justice, reminded conference attendees of the strong connection between childhood abuse and neglect and later delinquent and criminal behavior and the need for increased prevention programming to protect children and preserve community safety. Juan Williams, Emmy Award-winning author and television commentator as well as a senior correspondent at National Public Radio, spoke passionately of the need to return to traditional individual, family, and community values while we keep our "eyes on the prize" of strong families and safe children and communities. Dr. Hilary Weaver, a Lakota social worker and President of the American Indian Alaska Native Social Work Educators' Association, closed the conference with a discussion of culturally based examples of valuing children and families, together with strategies for developing collaborative relationships and community partnerships aimed at both preventing and treating child abuse and neglect.

Professionals from multiple disciplines attended preconference seminars, plenary sessions, experiential learning opportunities, workshops, and skill seminars. A film forum featured select videos and films. All activities reflected the conference theme and corresponded to one of six Learning Clusters: bridging research and practice, prevention, collaboration, workforce issues, systems change, and innovations in practice. Evening activities, including a Shanghai Tunnels Tour, Portland Trail Blazers Basketball Game, and a Public Art Walk and Dinner, gave attendees a chance to relax, meet with friends and colleagues, and enjoy the great city of Portland.

Find more information about the conference, including the full program, on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website: