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3Voices Child Welfare Conference Series

3Voices in Child Welfare: The Sally Pearce Palmer Conference Series

Dr. Sally Palmer, Professor Emerita of the School of Social Work, at McMaster University, provided funding for a series of conferences organized by the School of Social Work in the Faculty of Social Sciences. The goal of the conferences is to address emerging research and approaches in the field of child welfare,   particularly developments that give voice to the children, families and communities receiving child welfare services.

The intended audience includes faculty, students, social workers, allied professionals, service users and community groups involved in child welfare issues.   These goals and this funding have made the 3Voices in Child Welfare conferences possible.

Conference Program





8:45–9:00     OPENING CEREMONY


9:00–9:45     OPENING ADDRESS

Sally Palmer and Gary Dumbrill: McMaster University

Purpose of conference series and description of the 3Voices Vision


9:15–10:00   KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Kike Ojo: Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies

Speaking on One Vision One Voice (details to follow)


10:05–10:45 MORNING CONCURRENT SESSIONS A (pick one)


A1. (10:05-10:45)

The Multi-Generational Trauma of Loss: Resisting the Westernization of Refugee Aid in the Refugee Crisis and the Impacts of Parenting in a New Place

The Westernization of refugee aid needs to be re-evaluated (throughout all of the migrant journey) to encompass a more culturally competent approach, to assist parents facing a multitude of barriers (stress, depression, language, culture, etc.) in being better advocates for their children while navigating a new (and often unwelcoming) space.


Dalal Badawi - service provider/academic/reflecting on experience as a refugee, working within the child welfare system/studying social work/research with refugees

Dena Badawi - service provider, academic, service user


A2. (10:05-10:45)

An Essential Developmental Element for Black Child Welfare

Youth ~ Exposure to African Diaspora “Black” Culture

This workshop joins the voices of youth, staff and researcher in presenting the findings from an innovative community partnership aimed at nurturing healthy Black ethnic identity and promoting Black cultural socialization while expanding the exposure of Black youth in care to African Diaspora “Black” culture.


Shemar Newman-Gaynor - CAS Toronto-voice of Black youth in care

Tina Garnett - CAS Toronto-voice of child welfare staff

Deborah Goodman - Child Welfare Institute, CAS Toronto--Voice of the researcher/evaluator


A3. (10:05-10:45)

The Role for Parenting Coordination in Child Welfare Involved Custody and Access Cases

In cases where child welfare and child custody disputes cross over, the role of the parenting coordinator can work with the Children’s Aid Society to decrease the conflict through identification of potentially conflictual aspects of the parenting plan, facilitating appropriate communication, teaching appropriate co-parenting skills and monitoring the impact of any potential conflict on the children.  The coordination of services between the child protection worker and the parenting coordinator can positively impact the trajectory of parental conflict, ultimately providing a protective factor to emotional harm to a child.  This workshop will speak to the establishment of the working relationship in the two systems, and explore what interventions are useful in working with families in high conflict custody and access disputes.


Michelle Hayes- Ph.D. Student/Service Provider-Private Practice Successful Families Inc.

Kim Martin- CPIN Supervisor-Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton


A4a & A4b. Combined Session (11:00-12:00)

A4a. Indigenous circle work and youth empowerment  (11:00-11:30)

Traditional healing practices within the circle have the potential to heal, transform and rebalance relationships with self, family and the wider community. The passing of Bill 210 also known as the transformative agenda, the 'Calls to Action' released by the TRC and the commitment issued by Prime Minister Justine Trudeau (2016) to implement all ninety-four of the TRC's recommendations has resulted is an increased demand for Indigenous skill based training and service provision that is rooted in Indigenous approaches to dispute resolution. As an Indigenous scholar, dispute resolution practitioner and intergenerational witness with lived experience of the impacts of colonization and the discourse surrounding decolonization, the presenter makes use of first-hand account to elucidate the healing benefits for using ancestral approaches to healing, relationship restoration and the potential of the circle to empower Indigenous youth to voice through digital storytelling, their experiences within the child welfare system and suggestions for transformative change.                     

Laurie Sherry-Kirk –PhD Student, McMaster University


A4b. Live Different’s Indigenous Program (11:30-12:00)

Live Different is a Canadian charity that exists to empower and engage youth in a lifestyle of compassion and service. Over the past 17 years, we've supported more than 3000 schools from coast to coast, reaching over 1.3 million students with a message of hope and purpose. After speaking with many community leaders and educators in First Nations across Canada, we began looking at how Live Different, as one of Canada’s major youth development organizations, could provide more focused services for Indigenous youth and the challenges they face (eg. hopelessness, suicide, drug abuse, lack of positive role models, etc.). So, at the beginning of 2017, Live Different launched a new program for Indigenous youth and have supported dozens of communities across Canada with effective presentations, sharing circles, workshops, and more. Led by young Indigenous role models, this 1 and 2 day programming, using a strengths-based/positive youth development approach, has already garnered positive and exciting results within our partnering communities.                      

Ryan Wood – (Service Provider), Director of Canadian Programs at Live Different


10:45-11:00 MORNING BREAK


11:00-12:00 MORNING CONCURRENT SESSIONS B (pick one)


B1. (11:00-11:40)

The “good mother” vs the “young mother”: Shifting perceptions of risk and responsibility in support of young families involved in the child welfare system.

An overview will be provided of how the identity category of “young mother” has been socially constructed within the dominant narrative of what it means to be a “good mother”. Discourses of risk and resistance will be analyzed from a critical perspective. Lived experience will bridge research with dialogue about ways that young families may be better understood and supported within the child welfare system.    


Erin Kuri - Therapist/McMaster University doctoral student

Nancy Dali – Social Worker, Rosealie Hall

Service User – Rosealie Hall


B2a & B2b. Combined Session (11:00-12:00)

B2a. A study of music and its ability to give voice: A photo elicitation project involving youth in care and the interpretation of visuals (11:00-11:20)

A discussion on youth voice and how youth in-care may be

better consulted using alternative visual methods, such as photo-elicitation. A brief presentation and discussion will occur on a study involving five youth who had involvement of being in-care and were a part of a music group at a local Children’s Aid Society.  The importance of music will be explored, particularly how music may help young people deal with difficult challenges and build self-confidence.

Blake Anderson –Family Service Worker, Children’s Aid Society of Toronto

Cheyanna Dargie - Youth service user

Sara Dargie - Youth service user


B2b. Fostering Rainbow Youth: LGBTQ2S+ Youth in the Foster Care System(11:20-12:00)

Fostering Rainbow Youth, or FRY, is a program created for LGBTQ2S+ youth in care. FRY exists as a direct result of youth advocacy demanding that their child welfare agency provide them with a program that met their specific needs of being both LGBTQ2S+ and a youth in care. The program was developed to focus on the four keys needs identified by the youth; building community connections, LGBTQ2S+ specific education, peer and social work support and safe social spaces.

Heather MacKenzie - Social Worker, Children’s Service Worker (FRY creator), Hamilton Catholic Children’s Aid Society

Kelsey Williams – Intake worker (Adolescent Team), Hamilton Catholic Children’s Aid Society

Kailee D – Group Member, Youth in care

Maddy C – Peer group leader, Former youth in care


B3. (11:00-12:00)

Weaving Safety into the Fabric of the Community: Challenging the Narrowing Mandate of Child Protection

Brant Family and Children’s Services provides a community-based program model that integrates community capacity building with Child Protection. Collaborative partnerships enhance opportunities to build relationships with families and mitigate risk. The voices of families and the community are woven into this framework in an effort to develop a shared responsibility of child well-being.

Jill Esposto - Director of Service, Brant Family and Children’s Services

Sarah Robertson - Manager of Learning and Development, Brant Family and Children’s Services


B4. (11:00-12:00)
The McMaster BSW with child welfare specialization: The story of its development

In this presentation, representatives from Children’s Aid Societies (CASs,) and McMaster University, describe a specialized Preparing for Critical Practice in Child Welfare (PCPCW) pathway within the McMaster BSW program. We speak about how the pathway was developed using the principle of 3Voices, the way it is financed, and how students are experiencing it. We also describe the outcomes research currently underway, and if the outcomes are good, the prospect of this field of study becoming a child welfare specialization designation that students can take as a part of their BSW degree.


Alphabetically by first name—not all will be present:

CAS/Child Welfare Service Providers: Angela Perkins - Waterloo FACS, Anna Bozza - FACS Niagara, Anne-Marie Simpson - Waterloo FACS, Crystal Doolittle - Ogwadeni:deo, Gissele Taraba - Brant FACS, Jill Esposto - Brant FACS, Karen Spencer - Waterloo FACS, Kelly Wright - CAS Haldimand-Norfolk, Nicola Jones - FACS Niagara, Rocco Gizzarelli - CCAS Hamilton, Sarah Robertson - Brant FACS, Sheila Penney - CAS Hamilton, Tammy Hill - Ogwadeni:deo.

McMaster University: Allyson Ion, Chris Sinding, Gary Dumbrill, Janice Chaplin, Laurie Sherry-Kirk, Saara Greene, Tammy Maikawa.

PCPCW Field Instructors: Niketha Velautham - Hamilton CCAS, Angela Firetto - Hamilton CAS, Cortney Mossman - FACS Niagara, Dara Melanson - Waterloo FACS, Jennifer Chapman - Haldimand-Norfolk CAS, Jennifer Warren - Waterloo FACS, Jerry Walsh - Brant FACS, Jessica Hall - Hamilton CAS, Jessica Wright - Hamilton CCAS, Kim Burns - Haldimand-Norfolk CAS, Sarah Milmine - FACS Niagara; Sarah Milne, Brant FACS; Monica Lamain, Haldimand-Norfolk CAS; Nicole Kane, FACS Niagara

PCPCW Students: Alex Cernile, Ashlyn Mondoux, Brianne Williams, Caroline Sanders, James McGuirk, Jon Harley, Nichole Hiemstra, Rufaida Mohammed, Samar Hossain.


12:00-1:00 LUNCH (provided)


1:00–2:00 AFTERNOON OPENING PRESENTATION (all participants)


Indigenous Child and Family Well Being Practices:

Moving Forward (1:00-2:00)

Team Ogwadeni:deo presents on the inclusion of Haudenosaunee concepts in the delivery of child welfare services/practices.  In approaching service delivery from this perspective it is the intention of the Ogwadeni:deo agency to be a part of the revitalization process of Haudenosaunee culture, the strengthening of not just individuals but of the family system, the community and Indigenous People.

Tammy Hill -Cultural Advisor will be speaking along with other members of Ogwadeni:deo




C1a & C1b. Combined Session (2:05-2:55)


C1a. Al-Ab Al-Hanoon: Liberating Men from

Cultural Expectations of Fatherhood (2:05-2:35)

We will share our collective learning about what was required to successfully adapt programs developed in the Canadian context to ensure cultural and linguistic relevance to different populations. We would also like to share the impact on the men and the benefit to service providers of including them in the development and evaluation.


Jill Stoddart – PhD, MSW, RSW – Director of Research and Innovation, Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region

Leyco Wilson – MA, SDA - Supervisor of Quality Assurance and Evaluation, Family & Children’s Services Waterloo Region

Keghani Mardikian – MSW - FV Specialist, Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region

Kathryn Barratt, MA, MSW, RSW – Adult Services Program Manager, John Howard Society

Santiago Grande, MSW, RSW – Renison, UW


C1b. Unpacking the Caring Dads program at its

intersection with the child welfare system (2:35--2:55)

The presentation will examine the role of Children’s Aid society in association with the Caring Dads program in creating positive change in fathers identified as at-risk of perpetrating abuse within their familial unit. Cultural competency, participant experiences of the program, and their involvement with CAS will be unpacked through discussion.

Maddie Brockbank - McMaster Social Work Student

George Kostic-Caring Dad’s Facilitator/program leader and counsellor, Thrive Counseling


C2. (2:05-2:55)

Customary Care

Traditional Customary Care, has been a mainstay family based care option within indigenous communities for millennium.  In 2006, under the Transformation Agenda in Child Welfare, the Province of Ontario attempted to recognize the need to honour these structures in part, under Part 10 of the Child and Family Services Act. Lacey Lewis of the Niagara Chapter of Native Women and Jeff Moriarty from Family and Children’s Service Niagara will provide both a historic overview, and recent developments of Customary Care agreements. The successes and challenges confronted by First Peoples when engaging with the Child Welfare system under this to the de-evolution of mainstream child welfare towards an indigenous controlled and world view model will be open to participants in this presentation.


Lacey Lewis - Niagara Chapter of Native Women

Jeff Moriarty - Family and Children Services of Niagara


C3. (2:05-2:55)

The Development, Implementation, and Evaluation of a youth-led FGC process

Please join us for a 60 minute interactive workshop on the development, implementation, and evaluation of a youth-led Family Group Conferencing (FGC) initiative. We will share insights gained and lessons learned from four perspectives (service user, child welfare service provider, child wellbeing service provider, and research organization).


Chrystal Colquhoun - Research Project Coordinator/Child Welfare Institute/Children's Aid Society of Toronto

Keith Lee - Child Welfare Supervisor/Children's Aid Society of Toronto

Inshirah Hassabu - Family Group Conferencing Program Manager/The George Hull Centre for Families and Children


C4. (2:05-2:55)

The Positive Parenting Pilot Project: a community-based HIV research and training response to supporting mothers living with HIV who have child welfare involvement

Researchers, service providers and mothers living with HIV have noted a high degree of child welfare involvement of families affected by HIV, in particular those from Indigenous and African, Caribbean and Black communities. This presentation will: a) enhance social workers’ capacities to support families living with HIV who have child welfare involvement; and b) discuss a community-based research approach to understanding how knowledge and attitudes related to HIV intersect with child welfare practices.


Saara Greene - McMaster University

Allyson Ion - McMaster University

Marvelous Muchenje - Women’s Health in Women’s Hands

Doe O’Brien-Teengs - Lakehead University

Samara Carroll - The Teresa Group

Melody Lotfi - The Teresa Group

Gary Dumbrill -McMaster University






D1. (3:05-3:55)

Supporting families living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in navigating Children’s Aid Society

This presentation will share case studies from The Teresa Group to spark discussion about ways to best support HIV-affected families engaged with Children’s Aid Societies.  It will share best practices in navigating barriers and obstacles and will address current issues with plans to improve service delivery, advocacy and awareness.

Samara Carroll - Family Support Team Lead, The Teresa Group

Melody Lotfi - Family Support Coordinator, The Teresa Group


D2. (3:05-3:55)

Bending the Gender Boxes in Child Welfare:  Strategies toward Trans and Gender Inclusion and Equity in the Child Welfare System

When a 13-year-old youth-in-care says they are genderqueer, they use a new name and “they/them” pronouns now, and they want hormone blockers ASAP, how do you respond? Hear from young trans people in the system about what you need to understand and do to create more equitable child welfare services. 


Will Rowe - PhD Student, McMaster University, School of Social Work

Lorraine Gale - MSW Coordinator, Out and Proud Program, Children's Aid Society of Toronto

Zach Thompson - Crown Ward



D3. (3:05-3:55)

Integrating Youth Voice into Workplace Culture and Practice

How can we involve young people in our advocacy work through service delivery, workplace culture and practice? We will discuss our model of resource, connection and voice as well as a child centered approach to advocacy and youth partnerships. Our Youth Amplifiers will examine the uniqueness of this role and how it plays out for someone who has the dual role of service user and service provider.      

James McGuirk – Service provider, The Ontario Child Advocate (Advocate’s Office) and academic

Ashley Ash - The Ontario Child Advocate (Advocate’s Office) Service User, Service Providers, and Academics

Amanda Owusu- The Ontario Child Advocate (Advocate’s Office) Service Users, Service Providers, and Academics


D4. (3:05-3:55)

Three Part Harmony: Family Group Conferencing/Family Group Decision Making

Family Group Conferencing (FGC) Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) was legislated in Ontario in 2006 as an approved method of Alternative Dispute Resolution under the Child and Family Services Act. Brant Family and Child Services (Brant FACS) has been providing FGC/FGDM services to the children and families we serve since 2001. This presentation will review FGC through service user and service provider feedback.

Jacquie Scatcherd - Director of Services, Brant FACS

Marilee Sherry - Manager of FGDM Team & FGDM, coordinator, Brant FACS


4:00-4:45. DAY ONE WRAP UP (consolidation of themes)






8:55–9:10     OPENING REMARKS

Sally Palmer and Gary Dumbrill: McMaster University


9:10–9:45     KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Bonnie Freeman - Assistant Professor McMaster University

Translating Land/Place-based knowledge & Thought in Social Work Practice




10:00-12:00 Re-imagining Parenting Possibilities (RPP):

A Forum Theatre Workshop (all participants)

People labeled with intellectual and developmental disability consider parenthood in the shadows of eugenics and face significant barriers rooted in professional discourse that defines them as ‘deficient’, ‘unable’, ‘dangerous’. Using Forum Theatre, we perform parenting stories collected from labeled others, inviting workshop participants to enter and change the course of the scene.


Ann Fudge Schormans, School of Social Work, McMaster University

*Note: Approximately seven people (a mix of self-advocates labeled with intellectual disabilities, workers, academics and service providers) from this working group will be joining Ann Fudge Schormans. It is difficult to state with any certainty at this time which members will be available. Almost everyone in this group speaks from multiple perspectives – all three ‘voices’ are present. Members represent agencies, self-advocacy organizations, and academic institutions in Hamilton, Toronto and Niagara


12:00-1:00   LUNCH (provided)




E1a & E1b. Combined Session (1:00-2:00)

 E1a. Analyzing the Nervous CPS Worker: Considering Surveillance and Self Advocacy 1:00-1:20)

Analysis of The Nervous CPS Worker, a digital video shared via YouTube supports deeper understanding of the effects of social media and digital technologies on social work practice


Tara LaRose McMaster University, Assistant Professor and former service provider


E1b. Immigrant mothers and their families within the child welfare system (1:20-2:00)

This presentation will incorporate the voices of service user, service provider and academic focusing on the topic of new immigrant mothers and their families within the child welfare system in Canada. Analysis will occur from an individual, systemic and structural level as facilitators and participants reimagine child welfare with immigrant mothers and their families.


Archana Medhekar -  Family lawyer

Graceamma Jacob Mallinath - Service User

Ferzana Chaze -  Professor, Faculty of Applied Health and Community Studies, Sheridan College                             

Dianne Fierheller - Social worker/PhD Student, McMaster University, School of Social Work


E2a & E2b. Combined Session (1:00-2:00)


E2a. Conceptualization of Care and Safety of Children in Muslim Communities (1:00-1:20)

The presentation focuses on understanding and comparing child welfare practices from Western and Islamic perspectives and exploring use of Islamic perspectives with Muslim clients involved with child protection services.

Bibi Baksh - Social Worker/Service User/Academic


E2b. Child welfare and Subversion of Neo-Liberal Governmentality: A Praxis of Filipino Women in Canada (1:20-1:40)

This presentation looks at a study conducted with 30 Filipino women in the Greater Toronto Area with a focus on understanding the strengths of migrant’s women in subverting normalizing gaze and representation of submissiveness and docility as core Filipina trait. The focus identified child care as site of exuding power from the margin—how migrant women take childcare as resistance, resilience, and agency.

Rose Torres - Lecturer in the School of Social Work at Ryerson University

Dionisio Nyaga - Ph.D Candidate at Social Justice Education/OISE/ University of Toronto and Lecturer at Ryerson University-Social Work


E3. Listen to Me: The power of Children and youth’s voice & participation at Brant Family and Children’s Services (1:00-2:00)

Child welfare has consistently faced challenges in balancing children’s rights of protection and participation despite the finding that children’s protection and provisional rights improve when their participation is fostered.  In this presentation we will share the results from a project led by youth at Brant FACS, whereby youth in care share what organizations and child welfare workers can do right now to include children in their own lives.  Discussion will follow focusing on concrete steps organizations can take to make the vision of rights a reality for all children involved with the child protection system.        

Nick - Youth Lead Brant FACS

Dakota - Youth Lead Brant FACS

Gissele Taraba - Administration and Q&A Director Chair of Children’s voices Committee, Brant FACS

Martha Lara - FGDM coordinator Brant FACS & Researcher

Cheryl Elbers -  B.A., B.S.W.  Family Support Worker, care2CARE facilitator, FGDM coordinator, Brant FACS




2:15-3:00 ROUND TABLE DISCUSSIONS (consolidation of themes)


3:00-3:15 Concluding remarks - and where does 3Voices go from here?

Gary Dumbrill and Sally Palmer: McMaster University



Register Now!

Register Now!

Registration notes: 

  • For conference planning purposes attendance numbers are important. Should you only be able to attend one day or half day please only select the sessions on the day you will be attending and once you are registered please email to provide specific details. 

  • If you are not purchasing any parking passes, please close the page when you reach the "Payment" page. Your confirmation email will be emailed to you within 48 hours.
Campus Map and Parking Information

Campus Map and Parking Information

The 3Voices Conference will be taking place in CIBC Hall which is located on the 3rd floor of the McMaster University Student Centre (MUSC). MUSC is building #51 on the campus map.

Please review the campus map for parking information.  If you paid for parking when you registered on-line for the conference you will receive parking voucher(s) when you sign-in on the morning of the conference.  These parking vouchers will be used upon exit of the parking lots.  Vouchers can be used at any available parking lot.