The first webinar in this series took a close look at what permanency really means: What is permanency? What isn’t permanency? What are some programs and practices that are working well to achieve permanency for children and youth in foster care? How can we look at the issue of permanency across systems and address it holistically?
Children’s Bureau Associate Commissioner JooYeun Chang offered opening remarks regarding the importance of child welfare systems providing comprehensive, integrated services to achieve permanency for children and youth in foster care. Presenters from the Texas child welfare and court systems joined with presenters from FosterClub, including a Young Leader who offered a youth perspective. The presentations provided information on approaches utilized in Texas to achieve permanence for children and youth in care, and discussed the importance of establishing permanency values throughout and across systems, and changing not only policy, but also attitudes about and understanding of permanency, and what it takes to achieve it. Presenters also addressed the need to help youth understand permanency. Presenters considered ways in which youth sometimes unintentionally may be given conflicting messages about permanence. Presenters explored the challenge of establishing permanence during a developmental stage when youth are simultaneously working toward increased independence. The webinar closed with a brief question and answer period.
Debra Emerson, TX CPS Director, Permanency, Family and Youth Services
JooYeun Chang, Associate Commissioner, Children’s Bureau
President Obama appointed Ms. Chang as the Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau. Recently celebrating its centennial, the Children’s Bureau is the oldest Federal agency for children. Ms. Chang administers over $7 billion in Federal Programming to support the Nation’s child protection, Foster care, Guardianship and Adoption programs. Prior to her appointment to the Children’s Bureau, Ms. Chang was the Senior Director of Public Policy at Casey Family Programs where she worked closely with state and county child welfare leaders to improve and enhance child welfare practice and with Congress on opportunities to improve national child welfare policy. Prior to coming to Casey Family Programs, JooYeun served as Senior Staff Attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). Her areas of expertise in federal and state policy include child abuse and neglect, foster care and adoption, children’s mental health, child welfare financing, and kinship care. She has authored several publications; worked to educate congressional staff about child welfare policies designed to protect children and support families; and identified and promoted best practices in child welfare and related issues. JooYeun is a member of the Maryland State Bar; a former board member for the National Foster Care Coalition and chair for the Policy Committee of the National Foster Care Coalition; and a former member of the Generations United Policy Committee. She received her J.D. from University of Miami School of Law where she was a Harvey T. Reid Scholar and her undergraduate degree from North Carolina State University.
As the CPS State Director, Ms. Emerson is responsible for the development of comprehensive CPS practices around the state and policies that best meet the permanency needs of children and families. Ms. Emerson is responsible for policy and programs associated with services to families; Fostering Connections; Permanency Care Assistance; Family Based Safety Services; Family Group Decision Making; Kinship Care; and Transitional Living Services for Youth, including Supervised Independent Living. Ms. Emerson interacts routinely with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services staff, representatives from various federal and state agencies, local communities, judges, external stakeholders, families, the general public, legislators and their staff, and national advocacy groups. Prior to this assignment, Ms. Emerson was the State Division Administrator for Permanency; Program Administrator for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in Houston, Texas. In this role, Ms. Emerson had oversight of approximately 4,000 children in the Conservatorship of Harris County, the fourth most populated county in the nation. Ms. Emerson’s other professional experiences include being the CPS Initiatives Director for the Houston Region, the Program Director for the CPS Sexual Abuse Program for Harris County as well as the Program Director for programs responsible for physically abused and neglected children and their families. Ms. Emerson started her career in CPS over thirty-one years ago as a sexual abuse caseworker and then as a field supervisor. Ms. Emerson also served as the Assistant Director of the CPS Regional Training Institute, training new caseworkers and supervisors. Ms. Emerson earned her Bachelors of Arts from Oregon State University and her Masters of Social Work from the University of Washington.
Jenny Hinson, Division Administrator for Permanency, TX CPS
Jenny Hinson is the Division Administrator for Permanency for Texas Child Protective Services. In her role, she is responsible for the development of policy and programs that affect children and youth in the Texas foster care system. Ms. Hinson is responsible for policy and programs associated with permanency, kinship, education, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor program. Ms. Hinson has spearheaded the development and implementation of the Texas Permanency Roundtable model. She leads the development and implementation of the Texas Enhanced Visitation model, as well as the implementation of Permanency Values Training for all CPS staff. Ms. Hinson has worked with CASA and the Texas child welfare legal community to improve permanency outcomes for children and youth in the Texas foster care system. Ms. Hinson is also a member of The Texas Blueprint Transforming Education Outcomes for Children and Youth in Foster Care implementation taskforce and a member of the Texas Trio collaboration. Jenny Hinson began her career with Child Protective Services in 1998 as an intake worker at the Texas child abuse hotline. Ms. Hinson's professional experiences include working as a CPS investigator, providing reunification services to children and families, supervising family based safety services and conservatorship, and serving as a program director and program administrator. Ms. Hinson was also a basic skills development trainer for new employees. In 2009, Ms. Hinson joined the state office division of CPS where she initially worked as a Family Based Safety Services Program Specialist. In the summer of 2010, Ms. Hinson assumed the role of Division Administrator for Permanency. She earned her Bachelor’s of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin in 1997.
Darlene Byrne, Judge, 126th District Court, Travis County, TX
Darlene Byrne has served as Judge of the 126th Judicial District Court in Travis County, Texas since January 2001 following a legal career in the areas of employment, commercial and governmental entity litigation. Judge Byrne currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Supreme Court of Texas’ Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families. She also serves as Treasurer on the Board of Trustees of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) and as Chair of the Finance Committee for the NCJFCJ. She serves as the Chair of the Oversight Committee for the Office of Parent Representation and Office of Child Representation. She also served as the Chair of the Travis County Juvenile Justice Board from 2009-2012. She founded and is the lead judge for the Travis County Model Court for Children and Families. She is the supervising judge and a founding team member of the Travis County Family Drug Treatment Court. Judge Byrne is proud to have been recognized as the recipient of the 2008 Texas CASA Lone Star Proud Judge of the Year Award, the 2011 Judge of the Year by CASA of Travis County, 2013 recipient of the Travis County Women’s Lawyer Association’s Pathfinder Award, 2009 recipient of their Outstanding Achievement Award and the 2005 recipient of their Government Service Award. She has also received the 2009 YWCA of Greater Austin’s Woman of the Year Award in the area of racial justice and the 2013 Phyllis Richards, Austin Icon for Children, Award.
Celeste Bodner, Founder and Executive Director, FosterClub
Celeste Bodner is the founder and Executive Director of FosterClub, the national network for young people in foster care. The mission of FosterClub is to lead the efforts of young people in and from foster care to become connected, educated, inspired and represented so they can realize their personal potential and contribute to a better life for their peers. The 35,000 members of FosterClub use their first-hand experiences and stories to provide youth perspective, engage and support their peers, and to influence policy and practice. Previously, Celeste had 13 years of senior level marketing and communications experience with clients including Nike, Pottery Barn and the Transportation Security Administration. Celeste and her family reside in Seaside, Oregon.
Dashun Jackson, FosterClub, Former Foster Youth
Dashun Jackson, age 22, spent 5 years in Nevada’s foster care system. Dashun entered foster care at the age of 13 with his 3 younger siblings, but was later separated from his siblings after living in an abusive home. Multiple placements, including the local shelter, his aunt’s home, psychiatric facility and a residential treatment home, caused Dashun to move through four different schools while in care. While at a shelter, Dashun attend a school that did not provide credits, causing him to fall further behind in school. Dashun credits a mentor from a group home for teaching him about his culture and the gift of philanthropy. Currently emancipated, Dashun attends a local university and is studying psychology and public administration. He was one of two creators of Nevada’s first foster care bill of rights, and is president of both the local and state foster youth chapters.
While open and relevant to all child welfare audiences, this session may be particularly useful to child welfare programs (Foster Care Program Managers, Adoption Managers, Independent Living Coordinators), child welfare supervisors, child welfare administrators, Central and Regional Office staff), child welfare practitioners (front line workers, foster care and adoption workers, case managers and others working directly with children, youth, and families), and resource families (foster, adoptive, and kinship families). This webinar may also be useful to those working in court systems, such as judges, attorneys for children, and CASAs.
Webinar Materials and Additional Resources
Resources from Texas
Resources from FosterClub
Extended Foster Care
Kinship and Permanency Care Assistance Resources