The 2018 OVC Applied Research & Best Practice Symposium will unite faith-based NGOs and top academic researchers serving vulnerable children around the globe. This year's presenters will answer one essential question: How do we encourage recovery from childhood trauma?
Much of the available literature on orphans and vulnerable children is overwhelmingly discouraging. As individuals who care deeply for the well-being of children outside parental care, this reality can be heartbreaking and defeating. At times, it can even make the work of caring for vulnerable children seem hopeless.
Thankfully, an emerging field of research brings with it great hope. "Neuroplasticity" is a scientific term that simply means that the brain can be influenced by the environment around it.
Just as adversity can negatively impact brain development, the right interventions can actually reverse damage and move a child toward health.
Join us for the 5th annual OVC Applied Research & Best Practice Symposium to discover how to harness the power of brain science to bring health and healing to the children you care for.

Date: Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Check In: 7:30am – 8:30am
Intensive: 8:30am – 2:30pm

Location: Stonebriar Community Church, Frisco TX

Cost: $99 (Non-Member), $59 (CAFO Member with Code)

CEU Eligible: 5 CEU credit hours available, see instructions to obtain credit here

  • Leadership & staff of NGO’s active in service to OVCs
  • Leaders of local OVC-related initiatives within developing nations
  • Leaders of U.S. churches and organizations actively supporting OVC care globally
  • Leading researchers on OVC-related issues

The conference will center on OVC themes related to trauma, developmental catch up, neuroplasticity, and how to “re-wire” the brain. Attendees will experience TED-style presentations alongside intensive breakout sessions, interactive discussion, and concrete, actionable ideas for how organizations can improve the care they provide. New to the Symposium this year are extensive Q&A opportunities, as well as a collaborative research panel.

Dr. Caroline Leaf
Dr. Caroline Leaf is a cognitive neuroscientist with a PhD in Communication Pathology and a BSc Logopaedics specializing in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology. She currently teaches globally on these topics. Her videos, podcasts and social media hundreds of thousands globally. Her passion is to help people see the power of the mind and the link between science and God as a tangible way of controlling their thoughts and emotions, learning how to think, and finding their sense of purpose in life.

Dr. Kerry Littlewood
Dr. Kerry Littlewood holds a master’s degree (2003) and doctorate (2008) in Social Work (UNC). Dr. Littlewood is President and Founder of AAJ Research & Evaluation, Inc. She specializes in kinship care, program evaluation, health disparities and using mixed methods approaches to better understand at-risk children, families and older adults.


Dr. Katherine Pears
Dr. Pears is a Senior Scientist at the Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). She studies school readiness in high-risk children and their families, including children in foster care, children with developmental disabilities, and children from impoverished environments. Dr. Pears is a developer of the Kids in Transition to School (KITS) Program.


Dr. Caroline Roben
Caroline Roben, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware and directs the dissemination of the Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up Intervention, a preventative intervention developed by Dr. Mary Dozier. She coordinates national and international implementation of ABC, conducts trainings of new parent coaches and supervisors, and provides ongoing supervision. Her primary research and clinical interests include early intervention and implementation, emotional development and parenting in early childhood in the context of risk, and caregiver mental health.

 Dr. Amanda Hiles Howard, PhD.
Mandy Hiles Howard is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Samford University. She came to Samford after serving as the Assistant Director of the TCU Institute of
Child Development. She worked closely with Drs. Karyn Purvis and David Cross in the development of Trust-Based Relational Interventions, which is a trauma- informed evidence-based approach to working with children who have a history of trauma. Mandy’s professional interest integrates theory, research and practice to increase understanding of the interpersonal processes underlying mental health and quality of life for youth in non-traditional care. During the summer, she volunteers at a therapeutic summer camp.

Joseph Solomita, LCSW
Joseph Solomita is the Managing Director of Stars Training Academy, a division of Stars Behavioral Health Group. Mr. Solomita is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 35 years’ experience working with children, adolescents and families in a variety of residential, educational and clinical settings. Over the past ten years, Mr. Solomita served as Clinical Director of both SBHG’s Star View’s Adolescent Center, an inpatient treatment facility, and of Star View’s TEAMMATES Program, a community-based Wraparound Program. In addition Mr. Solomita recently was the the Clinical Training Director for SBHG and its’ family of mental and social services programs which serve over 20,000 people across California.