Better Together Rooms

A Conversation on Global Engagement: How Our Church Can Help, Not Hurt (Deeper Dive)

Join us to evaluate church partnerships, pray together, and cultivate individualized next steps. Attending earlier workshop by same title is recommended but not necessary.

(Toni Steere & Jenny Sheets, Legacy685)

Building a Prevention, Intervention, and Restoration Culture in Your Church’s Ministry

You recognize a variety of issues in your community that are impacting child and family welfare. While foster care is a significant point of engagement, there are other upstream factors contributing to the vulnerability and instability of families, and downstream results that are in need of restoration and renewal. Join us for a conversation about how to strategically engage the continuum of issues – from prevention, intervention, and restoration. You’ll walk away with fresh ideas and a keener sense of clarity for how you can begin to build this culture in your church.

(Gabriel Forsyth, Mosaic Church)

Celebrating the Triad: An Adoption Conversation

Join three women who represent the adoption triad as they name the pieces and people in the collective adoption story including all of its brokenness, all of its beauty, all of its pain, and all of its possibility – and how all of it intersects and mingles together. You will listen to, talk with, and learn from one another – about how each part of the triad contributes to and impacts and needs the other two parts.  You’ll walk away with a deeper empathy for the adoption triad and a better understanding of your specific role and responsibility in working towards healing and wholeness – and a shared redemptive story of love.

CEUs Available: 1  (Carissa Woodwyk, Author & Therapist; Tona Ottinger, Memphis Family Connection Center; and Ashley Mitchell, Lifetime Healing Foundation)

Creatively Engaging Your Community of People with Disabilities

This discussion will take a look at how to creatively engage with your local community of people with special needs through the Tim Tebow Foundation’s Night to Shine event. Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs, ages 14 and older. Over the past seven years, Night to Shine has become a worldwide movement and is helping change cultures and communities through a night of celebrating the God-given dignity, value, and worth of every person experiencing disability.

(Eliza Gulbransen, Tim Tebow Foundation)

Discussion: ReFraming the Struggle (A Q&A Deeper Dive from Wednesday’s Workshop)

As a follow-up to the ReFraming the Struggle workshop, come ready to share your questions, thoughts, concerns, and hopes about your foster parenting or adoption journey. This is a safe space to be honest, connect with others, and find the encouragement you need to take your next best steps forward.

(Jason Johnson, CAFO)

Expecting the Unexpected: How to Find Purpose in the Long Wait or Failed Adoption

The adoption journey is not for the faint of heart. The road twists and turns, sometimes leaving you scarred and disillusioned. What do you do when your, “Yes!” is answered with, “Wait” or even, “No?” Bring your own raw story and questions to this conversation focused on God’s purpose and faithfulness in the dark times of life.

(Jami Kaeb, The Forgotten Initiative)

Family-Based Care in Local Context

This workshop covers additional design considerations for the adaptation of family-based care models to developing world contexts, particularly in Southern and East Africa. This workshop focuses on several issues in family-based care design that move beyond the core focus of social work to include issues of learned helplessness, economic support, social stigma, gender, adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and others. This workshop draws heavily on the experience of multiple ministries in several African countries as they moved to adapt to family-based care within their residential child care programs. This workshop outlines a program design process that addresses these secondary issues. This workshop is tailored to those organizations for whom the core social work competencies of family-based care are necessary, but not sufficient, to ensure healthy outcomes for reintegrated children.

(Shoshon Tama-Sweet, Children Everywhere)

Fulton, Faith, and Foster Care (CAFO Member Organizations Only)

Join us as we discuss the current state of legal challenges nationwide, with a focus on the Supreme Court’s decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, and what this could mean for faith-based foster care and adoption agencies who partner with the government or are regulated and licensed by the government.

(Nick Reaves, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Herbie Newell, Lifeline Children’s Services)

Going Upstream: Building Collaborative Efforts that Solve Problems Before They Happen

Join us if you are a church or nonprofit leader interested in moving your ministry initiative from reactive activity to sustained system-wide impact in your work of caring for vulnerable children and families. The discussion will focus on applying concepts, addressing barriers, and sharing ideas presented in the book Upstream by Dan Heath.

(Amber Knowles, Fostering Family)

Health and Care for Adopted Children and Families (CAFO Member Organizations Only)

Dr. Mary Allen Staat and Tisha Way Gaynor LISW-S of the International Adoption Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital will share updates on the health and care of children adopted internationally in the last several years. We will also discuss supporting the long-term mental health needs of internationally adopted children and their families.

(Mary Allen Staat and Tisha Way Gaynor, International Adoption Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital)

Help Planning Your Transitioning to Family Care

Do you want to transition from residential care to family-based care, but need help to point your organization in the right direction? Receive coaching on how to assess your strengths, discern your vision and mission, engage stakeholders, and determine the next steps.

(Elli Oswald, Faith to Action Initiative)

How a Globally-Focused Organization (or Missionary) Can Structure Itself Best to Partner With U.S. Churches

With the tightening of budgets, changing of fundraising models, and the globalization of ministry, churches have radically shifted the way they partner with globally-focused organizations and missionaries. This interactive session is geared toward nonprofit/ministry leaders of globally-focused organizations and will provide valuable insights on how you can structure your organization to best partner with U.S. churches. Specifically, we will discuss how to: incorporate a nonprofit and develop bylaws, select a board governance model, develop executive leaders, create an organizational structure, implement boundaries and guidelines, master budgeting and financial transparency, understand mission and vision, and implement continuous improvement cycles and SWOT analysis.

(Brian Berman, Project Mañana International)

How Can WE Achieve Racial Equity in Child Welfare?…Practical Next Steps

Within the overall challenges of child welfare is an acute issue at the core that adversely impacts children of color. In the United States, 14% of children are Black. But 23% of children in the foster system are Black. This racial disproportionality adversely impacts more than 100,000 children each year. We can change that.

CEU’s Available: 1  (Adrien Lewis, Erika Glenn, & Audrey Deckinga, CarePortal)

How Can We use Trust-Based Relational Intervention Together to Create Systems Change?

Join this conversation around effectively using Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) as a collaborative tool for transforming lives around the world. Come ready to learn how to adapt TBRI® principles to the unique needs and strengths of various cultures and contexts. Hear proven successes of global leaders actively implementing TBRI® in a cross-cultural context and improving the lives of children across the continuum of care.

(Kiersten Luginbill & Ana Maria Fernandez, All God’s Children International and Marisa Stam & Tamrat Kebede, Selamta Family Project)

How to Advocate for Embryo Adoption and the Christian Mission

Discuss the role you and your church or organization play in advocating for life at conception, by spreading the word about embryo adoption. Millions of orphaned embryos are in frozen storage awaiting life in an adoptive family. Join us to plan strategies that will make a difference.

(Daniel Nehrbass, Nightlight Christian Adoptions)

How to Crush the Curse of Comparison

Comparison is said to be “an act of violence against oneself.” It is the killer of joy and peace, and a safe place to simply “be.” Comparison shifts our focus across the room to another, rather than to the cross; to the Christ who calls us and equips us. It affects us individually and affects our children – thus significantly impacting our families in potentially destructive ways. Join our conversation in helping us to recognize the culprit of comparison and all it steals from us and our family. To recognize the essential need to “name it and tame it.” Together we will discuss the need to press in and evaluate our own mindset and implement practices to contain this culprit by proclaiming Biblical truth – keeping our eyes on Him as we recognize the true meaning of “success” as faithfulness. Faithful to who and what He has created and called us to be.

(Mandy Litzke, Safe Harbour)

How to Develop Effective Transition Plans for Youth Aging into Adulthood from Residential Care

Come discuss how to prepare adolescents for aging out of residential programs. Together we will look at how caregivers and programs can help youth aging into adulthood chart a path to successful employment, stable living situations, and re-integration into their communities.

(David Nowell, Hope Institute)

How to Engage and Empower Struggling Families to Create Sustainable Change

If your church closed, would the community around you care or notice? We are living in a time where multiple factors are having an adverse impact on the financial, spiritual, emotional, and mental stability within the family unit. As a result, the church and supporting community organizations are seeing an overwhelming influx of families in need reaching out for assistance. The crisis of these families in need has exposed a gap in the usual systems of care.  This often leaves families without the appropriate support system to effect lasting change and sustainable stability for their families. This one-hour conversation will focus on strategies to engage families through cultivating relationships centered in stabilizing and empowering families and individuals in need.

(Jeff & Frances Chaisson, Salty Church)

How to Navigate the IEP/504 Process

Navigating the IEP/504 process can be confusing and frustrating. This interactive session is designed to help families journey through the educational process of testing, writing SMART goals, and defining special education terms whether in public, private school, or homeschool environments.

CEU’s Available: 1  (Ann Maura Hinton, Lifeline Children’s Services)

How to Start an Adoption/Foster Care Ministry in Your Church

This guided discussion is for anyone who wants to work on getting an adoption and foster care ministry started at your church. Regardless of church size or budget, this workshop is for you. Bring your questions! You will leave with steps to take to get something started in your very own church and community.

(Kasi Pruitt, Lakepointe Church)

Imperfect Parenting: How to Love Our Kids Even When We Want a Time-Out

Welcome all imperfect parents! If it’s hard to put yourself in that group, this hour is for you. If reading the first line makes you think, “Finally! I’ve found my people!” this hour is for you. If you are not a parent, but know some parents, please come listen and empathize. If you might be a parent someday, come and prepare for what your future may hold.

(Tracy Taplin, Foothills Church)

Intercountry Adoption: Diplomacy Behind the Scenes (CAFO Member Organizations Only)

Join CAFO adoption leaders and US State Department representatives for a free-flowing conversation on current topics including the search for a new accrediting entity, COVID impact, key country updates, and more. Bring your questions!

Into the Light – Hope for Healing from Sexual Abuse

How can you walk beside kids and families through the impacts of sexual abuse? Let’s discuss tools and strategies that can be used to support the healing journey, and most importantly, a sense of true hope! Hear the perspective of both a young man who has experienced and healed from sexual abuse, alongside an adoptive parent who walked the healing journey by his side. Come to this safe space to learn and share. Walk away with practical information and strategies to work toward healing.

CEU’s Available: 1  (Pam and Trent Taylor, Watch Me Rise)

Leading Millennials in Orphan Care Ministry (CAFO Member Organizations Only)

With the youngest Millennials reaching adulthood, the world’s largest generation represents the primary adult cohort able to address and end the world’s orphan crisis. In this interactive session, Herbie Newell and Dr. Rick Morton will lead a conversation around insights gained from leading Millennial families and a Millennial workforce to reach and care for orphaned and vulnerable children. Whether you are new to orphan care ministry or a seasoned veteran, you will benefit from this discussion in successful strategies to recruit, train, mobilize, and retain young adults in ministering to orphaned and vulnerable children. Open to CAFO Member Organizations Only.

(Herbie Newell and Rick Morton, Lifeline Children’s Services)

Let’s Talk About Adoption Medical Care Opportunities

Come on by the gathering tent and join the Show Hope team to discuss how medical care grants can make a difference for adoptive families on every part of their journey. Bring your questions and stories!

(Nathan Magness, Show Hope)

Lift Them Up to Serve: Leading Volunteers Through a Trauma Focused Lens to Resilience

In this interactive workshop, we will assemble strategies for equipping volunteers to engage children and teens with a trauma-informed perspective.  Join us!

(David and Jayne Schooler, Community Impact Center)

My Children and the World’s Children

Are your own children thriving as you take on the burdens of caring for the world’s children? Let’s explore together a solid framework that encourages vibrant life for your particular family in the midst of so much need. If you find yourself wondering how your own children are navigating your life of ministry, this session is for you.

(Jill Aspegren, Casa Viva)

Navigating Birth Parent Relationships as a Foster or Adoptive Parent

Birth parent relationships can be tricky and emotionally draining. Yet it is vital to remember that our kids’ birth parents are an extremely important part of their lives. Bring your questions and let’s discuss practical ways to show them respect in the way we talk and interact with our kids. Be encouraged in how you and your child can build healthy and God-honoring connections with their birth parents.

CEU’s Available: 1  (Jami Kaeb, The Forgotten Initiative)

Orphan and Stand Sunday, 20th Year Commemoration Awards Dinner (Invitation Only)

Join us for a gathering of the saints! All past Orphan Sunday Coordinators and partners are invited to a special recognition dinner to commemorate the 20th observance of Orphan and Stand Sunday. This event is by invitation only. Please RSVP to if you plan to attend.

(Jodi Tucker & Ashley Phelan, CAFO)

Orphan Care as Part of a Church Discipleship Strategy

Mobilizing Christians into caring for orphans is first and foremost a discipleship issue. In the modern evangelical church, the mandate to care for orphans has been woefully under-communicated. Come consider together practical strategies for integrating care for orphans and vulnerable people into the discipleship strategy of the local church. We will discuss the critical issues in developing a discipleship strategy that addresses orphan care, as well as ways to implement it into personal, small group, and corporate discipleship.

(Rick Morton, Lifeline Children Services)

Parenting Teens from Tough Places

Following the earlier workshop, join Beth, Bobbie Jo, and Debbie in this small group setting to ask questions, share, encourage, and pray together.

CEU’s Available: 1  (Beth Guckenberger, Adoptive Parent & Back2Back; Bobbie Jo Ehlers, Adoptive Parent; and Debbie Joy, Adoptive Parent & Adoption Therapist)

Q&A with Adult Adoptees

Whether you were adopted, have adopted, or are adopting, this conversation with adult adoptees is for you. Bring your burning questions, thoughts, or concerns about identity development, birth family relationships, or bonding. No conversation or question is off-limits. Let’s share information, experiences, and resources – and ultimately leave with hope.

(Trisha Priebe, Lifesong for Orphans and Mandy Litzke, Safe Harbour)


Re-emerging: A Hybrid Approach to Events & Resources

As organization or ministry leaders, we’ve likely all become experts at hosting online meetings, events, and support groups over the past year. Now that the world is re-opening to in-person opportunities, we’re faced with decisions of when and how to reintroduce certain events and programs. Join in as we discuss the benefits of a hybrid approach to services that will expand your reach and meet families right where they’re at.

(Tiffany Loeffler, The Alliance: Defending the Cause of Kids & Families)

Recruiting, Retaining, and Engaging Volunteers in Your Church’s Ministry

Join us for a discussion on the ins and outs of finding, on-boarding, managing, and leading volunteers in your ministry. We’ll problem-solve some of the constraints you’re navigating through now, and discuss principles like communicating clear expectations, providing on-ramping tools of training and ongoing support, building in accountability and growth measures, and celebrating successes along the way.

(Lisa Crider & Nicole Tabor, Fostering Together, North Point Ministries, Inc. )

Refugee Foster Care: Fostering with a New Perspective

Together we will explore differences, and lessons learned, in refugee foster care and traditional foster care. Come learn how families are opening their homes to children and youth that are far from home. We’ll discuss/share some key differences in fostering youth from abroad and lessons learned along the way.

(Charlotte Paulsen, International Christian Adoptions)

Relational Advocacy: How to Effectively Use Our Collective Voices For The Children

How can we most effectively advocate for those involved in the child welfare system? Issues that these children and families experience often don’t receive the same attention publicly that other societal ills do. We have an opportunity and responsibility to change that. Join us for this creative discussion on specific ways to apply a paradigm called Relational Advocacy, focusing on personal connection within our closest relationships. It doesn’t require heading to Capitol Hill, but can instead become a transformational part of our daily lives. Leave with practical ways to effectively apply it for the children you serve!

(Paul Martin, For The Children (formerly Royal Family Kids))

Removing the Rose-Colored Glasses: An Honest Look at Adoption for Parents

No matter how many books you’ve read, or trainings you’ve attended, you may still enter into adoption with unspoken expectations and some version of rose-colored glasses. Once a child comes home and real-life begins, some parents begin to wonder if there was even a book written to describe the child they are parenting! And often these parents feel alone and misunderstood. Can you relate? During this hour, adoptive and foster parents will be given the opportunity to dialogue about the lesser discussed aspects of adoption and learn from the stories of families who have walked a similar road. You will have the opportunity to share some of your own story, learn from others, pray for breakthroughs, and put together a plan for getting the support you may need. Ideas for engaging the church around foster/adoption support will also be presented and discussed.

(Karen Springs, World Without Orphans)

Residential Care That Heals (Domestic)

There are thousands of children who are languishing in the child welfare system, here in the United States, with little or no prospect of a forever family. The statistics surrounding the social ills that await these vulnerable children and youth are horrifying and altogether real. Come with your questions and observations, ready to discuss proven practices that prepare children for full community reintegration through the vehicle of a family.

CEU’s Available: 1  (Jason & Maggie Dunn, House of Providence)

Restoring Hope to Children with Disabilities

This conversation is for anyone that is slightly interested in adopting a child with a disability – whether a current parent or international ministry worker. How can caregivers be aware of each life area affected by disability and seek to bring restoration to the whole child? Bring your own story and questions to this encouraging hour focused on God’s goodness and practical solutions.

CEU’s Available: 1  (Natalie Flickner, Crisis Care Training International)

Right Where You Belong

A “can’t miss” hour for adoptees & adoptive parents. Let’s discuss questions & tangible truths we (as adoptees and adoptive parents) can hang onto when faced with the paralyzing doubt or pesky insecurity associated with adoption. Prepare for a heartfelt, honest, and encouraging discussion!

(Trisha Priebe, Lifesong for Orphans)

Shifting the Mindset Towards Family Care

Join like-minded practitioners interested in affecting greater change in care reform as we strategize and collaborate on shifting mindsets towards family care. While much evidence has been provided on the importance of family, and viable models of family care have been established, many people still resist family-based services. In our Better Together Room, we’ll be planning, dreaming, and strategizing together on how to advance family care with clear communication, compelling stories, and effective engagement in both large and small settings.

(Brandon Stiver, 1Million Home)

Story-based Tools to Help Children Who Have Experienced Trauma

When a person is immersed in a story, change is likely to happen. In this interactive workshop, you will hear clips from River Cross’s newest production, Jabota Bridge, and discuss the power of story to change thinking, attitudes, and behaviors. Come consider story-based tools to help you help the traumatized children in your care.

(Cindy Finley, River Cross)

Supporting Local Families to Care for Children with Special Needs in the Majority World (CAFO Member Organizations Only)

Caring for children with special needs can be daunting anywhere, and all the more so in many countries with highly-limited resources and public supports. How can CAFO member organizations best encourage and enable families globally to care for their children with special needs? What is working now and what new strategies are needed? CAFO member organizations are invited to join together in this interactive discussion of the big challenges and promising solutions.

(Faciliated by Jared Scheppmann, Ekisa)

The More Than Enough Better Together Deep Dive

Join this interactive gathering of foster care leaders and advocates to explore, plan, problem-solve, and dream…together. Sit with the presenters you’ve heard through the week to talk through questions and discuss ways to make their ideas on Finding Families, Keeping Families Together, and Supporting Families fit in your communities.

(Facilitated by Jason Weber, CAFO & More Than Enough Leaders)

The Nuts and Bolts of Bridge Building in Foster Care

When a group of churches and local organizations start dreaming together about how to help local child welfare transform foster care in a community, often a bridge ministry is born. These ministries navigate the waters between church and state and fill needed gaps in the local foster care landscape. Whether you are part of an existing bridge ministry or have something brewing in your community, this guided conversation will expose you to the primary functions of a bridge ministry  – and discuss the components you should be considering as you grow. Come with questions!

CEU’s Available: 1  (Shelly Radic, Project 1.27)

The Present and Future of International Adoption

The landscape of intercountry adoption has changed dramatically in recent years. This facilitated conversation will outline what those changes have been and focus on where the field is going. Participants will discuss how to participate and engage in the field as it is, while actively working to advocate for needed changes.

(Chuck Johnson & Ryan Hanlon, National Council For Adoption)

The Struggle is Real but so is Success – Parenting Kids with FASD

Parenting children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or other brain-based disabilities is challenging and can be isolating at times. Meeting their social, emotional, educational, and mental health needs is a daunting task. Join a panel of FASD caregivers and hear how they navigate the journey, because the struggle is real – but so is success.

CEU’s Available: 1  (Sandra Flach, Adoptive Mom & Justice For Orphans; Rebecca Tillou, Adult Adoptee; Aubrey Page, Adoptive Parent; and Chris Troutt, Adoptive Parent)


Visitation Best Practices

Many children participate in monitored or supervised visits with their biological parents. Is your church or agency open to providing space for family visitation? Bring your best practices (or questions) and learn new ones! Together we’ll discuss: designing or selecting a visitation location, coaching parents for success, incorporating caregivers into visitation, and troubleshooting concerns about safety, attachment, and more.

(Wendy McMahan, Olive Crest)

What’s Next for our Church’s Ministry?

Join in on a discussion of strategies and principles to help you identify the next steps to take in your foster care, adoption, or global orphan care ministry.

(Steve Gillis, Patch our Planet)

Where to Start in Adoption

Welcome all who are considering adoption or are wanting to learn more about the “adoption world” to counsel others on their journey! Whether you’re exploring your own adoption or helping others on their journey, this is for you. We’ll discuss important and current information on the scope of adoption, where to go for the best resources, and how to pray through each step.

CEUs Available: 1  (Drew Neuenschwander, Loving Shepherd Ministries)