This Conference is Now Closed (As of 11/30/21)

Learn At Your Own Pace With On-Demand

FORWARD is the perfect conference for busy foster parents, kinship caregivers, adoptive parents, and all those who work so hard to support these amazing families. An on-demand virtual conference means registrants for the conference will be able to take each day’s courses whenever they have the time. You can join the conference at your own pace!

In response to requests from our members the deadline has been extended from the end of September to the end of November, 2021!

Complete all 12 courses within your timeframe and then print out your training certificate.

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Forward with Hope

Welcome to FORWARD with Aysha E. Schomburg, J.D., Associate Commissioner, Children's Bureau

FORWARD with Hope, a Conversation with Chan Hellman, PhD

FASD Through a Lens of Hope with Barb Clark

Building Relationships Filled with Hope with Amanda Cruce, Tecoria Jones, Jennifer Rhodes, and Kara Georgi

Paying It Forward: A Fireside Chat with Justin and Alexis Black, Authors of Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat the Odds and Discovered Healing, Happiness, and Love


Chan Hellman, PhD is internationally renowned for his work on building a hope centered response to trauma. With over 150 scholarly publications and countless workshop in the areas of child maltreatment, domestic violence, homelessness, etc., Chan has focused his work on sharing the science and power of hope in our ability to overcome trauma and thrive.

Chan has trademarked Hope Centered and Trauma Informed as the evidence based framework to guide individual practice, and coordinated community responses to trauma.

Chan Hellman, PhD

FORWARD with Hope, A Conversation


Barb Clark attended the University of Minnesota and graduated with a B.A. in Youth Studies, Sociology and English. She has spent over 25 years working with at-risk youth in public schools and the non-profit sector. She worked in the Bloomington Public Schools for eight years as the Youth Development Manager and was integral in the development and implementation of three youth centers. Barb also was the Youth Initiatives Director at the National Youth Leadership Council based in St. Paul, Minnesota. At the NYLC, Barb directed a national training for high school youths from across the country which focused on service-learning, diversity, and leadership.

Barb and her husband are the parents of four adopted children, the oldest of which is diagnosed with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Barb works at the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) coordinating a program to train parent leaders to provide post adoption support in their communities and providing post-adoption support to MN families.

Barb Clark

FASD Through a Lens of Hope


Amanda Williams Cruce has extensive experience as an advocate for foster children and as a foster parent to the Partnership for Strong Families board. She has fostered for over six years and is known in the community for going above and beyond for her children, even donating a kidney in 2018 to save the life of her foster son.

Ms. Cruce is one of the founding members of the Birth and Foster Parent Partnership, an initiative to push the boundaries of birth parent and foster parent collaboration. She also served as President of the Alachua County Foster Adoptive Parent Association. In addition, Ms. Cruce is an active consultant with the Capacity Building Center for States and travels across the country to assist the implementation of federal legislation. She has a Masters in Social Work from The University of Texas at Arlington and works as a medical social worker in the community.

Amanda Cruce

Building Relationships Filled with Hope

Justin and Alexis Black

A Fireside Chat with

Both Justin and Alexis are proud foster care alumni as well as recent graduates, authors, and business owners. Together, they've created ROSE (Rising Over Societal Expectations) Empowerment Group, a company structured to close the information gap for young adults as well as The Scholarship Expert, where they support students to graduate debt-free while obtaining the skills needed to be successful. Now, they have released Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat The Odds and Discovered Healing, Happiness and Love to share their story of how they've had to redefine what love and healthy relationships look like.

“We are moving FORWARD in 2021. An arrow must be pulled back in order to spring forward. During the COVID-19 pandemic of the last year, it has seemed as though life was dragging us down with problems and dark times. We are launching into something great by moving FORWARD with Hope; FORWARD in Care and FORWARD Toward Change. ”

President, National Foster Parent Association

Karen Poteet

Forward in Care

FORWARD in Care, a Conversation with Bessel van der Kolk, MD

The Good News: What You Do Matters with Christina D. Bethell, PhD, MBA, MPH

Caring for Your Relationships with Marcus Stallworth, LMSW

Paying It Forward: A Fireside Chat with Ángela Quijada-Banks, Author of The Black Foster Youth Handbook: 50+ Lessons I learned to successfully Age-Out of Foster care and Holistically Heal.


​Bessel van der Kolk MD spends his career studying how children and adults adapt to traumatic experiences, and has translated emerging findings from neuroscience and attachment research to develop and study a range of treatments for traumatic stress in children and adults.

His efforts resulted in the establishment of Trauma Center (now the Trauma Research Foundation) that consisted of a well-trained clinical team specializing in the treatment of children and adults with histories of child maltreatment, that applied treatment models that are widely taught and implemented nationwide, a research lab that studied the effects of neurofeedback and MDMA on behavior, mood, and executive functioning, and numerous trainings nationwide to a variety of mental health professional, educators, parent groups, policy makers, and law enforcement personnel.

Bessel van der Kolk, MD

FORWARD in Care, A Conversation


Dr. Bethell is a Professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, where she serves as the founding director of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI) within the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health.

Her efforts led to the development, validation and national, state, and local implementation and reporting of measures with a focus on early childhood development, children with special health care needs, adolescent preventive services, medical home, and a variety of family centered care topics. She leads the National Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health (, supported through HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau as well as efforts to develop, test, and disseminate family-driven quality measurement and improvement tools such as the Well-Visit Planner. She is passionate about enabling data-driven partnerships and leveraging the new brain sciences, mindfulness and other mind-body methods to transform health and related services, with a focus on addressing childhood trauma, promoting positive health and advancing High Reliability Organizations.

Christina Bethell, PhD, MBA, MPH

The Good News: What You Do Matters!


Marcus Stallworth, LMSW, operates with a strength based, hands on approach. Spending close to 15 years providing Child Protective Services, he is recognized by the State of Connecticut as an expert witness for providing testimony. He has spearheaded several initiatives to promote the engagement of Fathers, the prevention of abuse and neglect, and the dangers of Social Media. He has direct experience educating and supporting Human Trafficking and Sexually Exploited victims, including those in Foster Care. He played a leadership role in Connecticut’s Disaster Behavioral Health Response Network, and oversaw recovery efforts in Newtown CT after the events on December 14, 2012.

Marcus is a national Training and Development Specialist for the Child Welfare League of America. He is also co-owner of Welcome 2 Reality, LLC which focuses on providing media literacy and education for students and parents regarding social media and technology.

Marcus Stallworth, LMSW

Caring for Your Relationships

Ángela Quijada-Banks

A Fireside Chat with

Ángela Quijada-Banks is an NAACP Image Award Nominated, American best-selling author, highly requested transformational keynote speaker, and holistic wellness coach.  She is the Foundress and C.E.O of Soulful Liberation; a Book publishing company and podcast and  Consciously Melanated Queens; a community to support young women of color to uncover their divine purpose and holistically heal. As Ángela is continuing to make an impact in her community, she has been recognized by many awards including the Outstanding Young Leader award and the 2021 ReEnvisioning Foster Care in America Award. On the Soulful Liberation podcast, she aims to empower foster youth by day and break generational curses by night. Through her everyday work with helping young people uncover their divine purpose, performing spoken word events, workshops, and political advisory to legislators across the nation, she aims to aid in a revolutionary change in holistic health, economic injustices, child-welfare disparities, cultural awareness, and identity within low-wealth communities of color both on a micro and macro level.

In her first self-published best-selling book, The Black Foster Youth Handbook she sheds light on a taboo topic through her own personal experience highlighting 50+ lessons she learned in order to support young people's journey and equip them with the necessary tools to successfully age-out of foster care and holistically heal.

“Welcome to FORWARD, the 50th education conference presented by the National Foster Parent Association. We are excited and honored to bring you this virtual learning experience through our new platform. I hope you are inspired, motivated, and take away new skills on your journey to support the most vulnerable in our community. ”

Board of Directors, National Foster Parent Association

Shawn Johnson

Forward Toward Change

Forward Toward Change, Be the Change You Want to See with Christine James-Brown and Hope Cooper

Advocating for Homes for Youth in Care with Ruth Anne White, PhD, Christopher Patterson, and Jamole Callahan

Advocating for Community Support with Alison Caliendo, PhD

Going Forward: Nothing for Us, Without Us. A fireside chat with April Curtis-Rivera


Ruth White is one of the nation’s leading experts on the nexus between housing policy and child welfare. She is executive director of the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare and former Director of Housing and Homelessness for the Child Welfare League of America. In that capacity she co-edited the landmark issue of the League’s journal, Child Welfare, documenting the extent to which children are needlessly held in foster care because their parents lack decent housing. She also coordinated conferences site visits, and advisory committees and wrote a newsletter concerning the Family Unification Program, which provides federal housing vouchers to families where lack of housing is keeping children and parents apart.

White has a Master of Science Degree in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work from Ohio State University. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and a Founding Member of the National Network of Women in Community Development.

Ruth Anne White, PhD

Advocating for Homes for Youth in Care


Dr. Caliendo has long been passionate about at-risk populations and family systems issues and opportunities. In 2009 Alison moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and began working in mental health care for children in foster care. While working with the foster families, she discovered the high number of kinship caregivers and their need for increased support. Upon further research, she realized that an astonishing number of children in Clark County were being raised by relatives, both formally and informally. She founded Foster Kinship to provide much-needed resources and peer-to-peer support for the dedicated individuals working tirelessly to raise their relative’s children, keeping these children both connected to family and safe from harm.

Ali holds a Ph.D. in Public Affairs from UNLV where she focused her research on how state child welfare policy contributes to the formation of kinship families. She received her Master’s Degree in Organizational Systems Renewal (OSR) from Seattle University, where she specialized in family systems and systemic trauma and healing, organizational consulting and group facilitation. She holds an HR Masters Certificate from Villanova University. She graduated with honors with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Chicago. Alison is a certified TIPS-MAPP instructor, Nationally Certified Chid Passenger Safety Technician, and has completed a certificate in Grandfamilies Leadership. She also on the board of the National Kinship Alliance.

Alison Caliendo, PhD

Advocating for Community Support


Christine James-Brown

Christine James-Brown became President and Chief Executive Officer of the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) in April 2007, assuming the leadership of the nation’s oldest and largest membership-based child welfare organization that works to improve the quality and availability of child welfare and related services through standard-setting and advocacy.

Hope Cooper

Hope Cooper is Founding Partner of True North Group. She brings twenty-five years of public policy experience focused on improving outcomes and opportunities for vulnerable populations. She directs the national CHAMPS campaign to improve foster parenting policies and advises major foundations on child welfare policy and practice.

Arnie Eby

He is the current Executive Director of the Maryland Resource Parent Assoc. He serves on various public policy committees on the state and national levels. His passion to serve Maryland foster families and the children is undeniable.

FORWARD Toward Change

Be the Change You Want to See

April Curtis-Rivera

Going Forward: Nothing for Us, Without Us.

April entered the foster care system at age three and cycled through foster homes and kinship care until she aged out at 21. While growing up in the system, she noticed that among the many issues related to foster youth, sibling rights are a cause she promotes most passionately. In August 2002, April co-sponsored a Sibling Symposium to draw attention to the importance of maintaining sibling connections and gather feedback for a Sibling Bill of Rights. She was instrumental in helping pass in 2012 in Illinois a sibling law with a great group of advocates (Public Act 97-1076). That law seeks to preserve sibling relationships when in a child/youth’s best interest.

April provides leadership guidance and advisory services to organizations and foundations with a focus on cross-system collaboration. Collaboration is a critical element of trauma-informed well-being and organizational well-being for child welfare, mental health, recovery, and juvenile justice.

“The National Foster Parent Association is pleased to present our first virtual conference this year. We are honored that so many nationally and internationally recognized experts have chosen to share their expertise with our members and supporters. This conference serves as an important educational supplement to the rich training we offer, daily, on our NFPA Training Institute site, Thank you for joining us.”

Executive Committee, National Foster Parent Association

Cate Hawks

50th Education Conference Sponsors

Sponsor support, along with that of our members, helps make it possible to accomplish all that we do.

People Are Talking

Reviews of the 50th Education Conference

Dianne Reed

5 star rating

“As always, this conference was full of a lot of great information. It was especially nice to hear from so many alumni's of the foster program. To hear their stories and see their success brings hope for the future of the foster children we have in...”

Read More

“As always, this conference was full of a lot of great information. It was especially nice to hear from so many alumni's of the foster program. To hear their stories and see their success brings hope for the future of the foster children we have in our home and any future foster children.”

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Ozie Taulbee

5 star rating

“I really enjoyed the 50th NFCA Conference and all the presenters, It was very educational.”

“I really enjoyed the 50th NFCA Conference and all the presenters, It was very educational.”

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Antoinette Sumter Cotman

5 star rating

“Great selection of presenter; wonderful, inclusive ideas to support families.”

“Great selection of presenter; wonderful, inclusive ideas to support families.”

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David Reed

5 star rating

“The conference was informative and I got some good information for my kids that are transitioning out of the foster care system”

“The conference was informative and I got some good information for my kids that are transitioning out of the foster care system”

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David Reed

5 star rating

“The conference was informative and I got some good information for my kids that are transitioning out of the foster care system”

“The conference was informative and I got some good information for my kids that are transitioning out of the foster care system”

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Jamaka Batchelor

5 star rating

“This conference was phenomenal. I was educated and inspired at the same time. It was great to see people that truly love what they do.”

“This conference was phenomenal. I was educated and inspired at the same time. It was great to see people that truly love what they do.”

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