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Mending Broken Ties
In Adoption & Foster Care 

A conference presented by LAAB
May 9-10, 2024

Doubletree New Orleans Airport
Register now on Eventbrite

Thanks to our sponsors, Louisiana Children's Trust Fund and ExxonMobil
















































Mending Broken Ties will be a wide-ranging exploration of current, compelling adoption and foster care issues. Our speakers are internationally recognized authorities and regional experts. They represent a variety of relevant perspectives. The conference is designed for social workers and other professionals as well as adoptees, birthparents, adoptive parents, foster parents and all those interested in adoption and foster care.


Nine CEUs are available for social workers and professionals attending the entire two-day conference. NASW–LA Chapter issues CEU approval. Attendees will receive info about the CEU process when they check in at the conference.


Registration fee is $110. All Keynote Addresses and Workshops are included. Meals are on your own. Restaurants will be open at the DoubleTree.

Louisiana DCFS staff should check with their supervisor about group rates for the conference.

There is a student registration fee of $75 for undergraduate and graduate students.

Attendees may check in on Wednesday, May 8, from 4 to 7 pm and from 7:30 to 8:30 am on Thursday, May 9, at the DoubleTree.



DoubleTree By Hilton New Orleans Airport, 2150 Veterans Blvd., is near the

Williams Boulevard exit of I-10. There is a complimentary airport shuttle and free parking. The hotel is 13 miles from the French Quarter and downtown


New Orleans. The discounted room rate is $139. Ask for the LAAB


Conference rate when reserving.  Contact the DoubleTree at 


(504) 467-3111.  Here's a direct link to hotel info and reservations




Internationally recognized professor/author, adoptive parent

Dr. Mallon is Julia Lathrop Professor of Child Welfare and Associate Dean of Scholarship and Research, SilbermanSchool of Social Work, Hunter College, NYC. He has been a child welfare practitioner, advocate, educator and researcher for more than 40 years. As Executive Director, National Center for Child Welfare Excellence, he travels extensively to improve outcomes for children, youth and families and to build organizational capacity with child welfare systems. An adoptive parent, he also has been a foster parent.



Nationally recognized educator and speaker on youth and drug issues


Ms. Riemer is president of Act on Drugs, which provides drug education to students, school staff, parents and professional organizations. Its goal is to help youth make healthy choices and know they are important, loved and not alone. She has a regional and national reputation as a speaker, trainer and advocate on substance abuse issues. Her experience and engaging style bring a personal face to discussions of drug use issues. She is an experienced chemist and former member of Colorado’s North Metro Drug Task Force.


Experienced trainer and advocate for child welfare, transracial adoptive parent

Ms. Stevens has 35 years' professional experience training and advocating on child welfare issues. She served as program manager at North American Council on Adoptable Children (now Families Rising). Among her areas of expertise are multiracial/multicultural family dynamics, trauma-responsive parenting and youth permanency issues. Ms. Stevens was honored nationally as an Angel In Adoption and with an Excellence in Adoption award. She adopted four children from foster care. Her Keynote Address will focus on race and identity issues, and her Workshop on talking to children about hard truths from their past.


Lived expert, specialist/trainer, Spaulding for Children


Mr. Threlkeld, a speaker and trainer with a degree in social work, has spent 20 years working with youth in out-of-home care. At Spaulding for Children, he works with the Quality Improvement Center on Engaging Youth in Finding Permanency (QIC- EY), a national project. He spent much of his childhood in residential care after being removed from his parents at age two. Mr. Threlkeld is a certified TIPS-MAPP (Trauma Informed Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting) trainer.


Thursday, May 9


8:15 am WELCOME

8:30-9:30 am



9:30-9:45 am Break

9:45-10:45 am WORKSHOPS A and B Choose One


Seven Core Issues In Adoption And Permanency

Cheryl Garafalo Tirado, LCSW
Manager, LA State Adoption Program, Child Welfare

Preventing Adoption Disruption And Dissolution

Identifying Risk And Protective Factors

Paula Davis, MSW, LCSW-BACS

Adjunct Instructor, LSU School of Social Work

10:45-11 am Break


11 am-Noon


Race, Racism And Positive Identity Development For Children Of Color


Noon-1 pm
Lunch on your own


1 pm
LAAB Awards Presentation

Adoption Advocate Award

Brenda Frisard

Honorary LAAB Board Member 

Adoption Search Angel

Friend Of LAAB Award

Danny Martiny
Former State Senator, Attorney

1:30-2:30 pm


Lynn Riemer

Adolescence and Substance Mis-use in Adoption and Foster Care


2:30-3:30 pm
WORKSHOPS C and D, Choose One


Finding Family: Hidden Roots In Your DNA

Richard Hill

Answering Children's Difficult Questions With Honesty And Care

Kim Stevens

3:45-4 pm Break


4 to 5 pm

WORKSH0PS E and F Choose one


Finding Family: Hidden Roots In Your DNA

Richard Hill

A continuation of his presentation on DNA.


Adolescence and Substance Mis-use

Lynn Riemer

A continuation of her keynote address.



FRIDAY, May 10


8:30-9:30 am

KEYNOTE ADDRESS Thomas Threlkeld

The QIC-EY Project: Engaging Youth In Finding Permanency


9:30-9:45 am Break


9:45-10:45 am

WORKSHOPS G and H Choose one


A Birthfather’s Journey: Navigating Openness In Adoption

Kent Gonsoulin

Engaging Youth In Finding Permanency

Thomas Threlkeld


10:45-11am Break

11 am to noon
WORKSHOPS I and J Choose one


Services For Minor Victims Of Human Trafficking

Panel Discussion

Led by Lauren Brocksmith, Child Welfare Manager, Human Trafficking Services, LA DCFS


Panel Members
Linsey Courville, MS LCYTF-AI Project Specialist


Jasmine Gardner, Director of Care Coordination, Louisiana Alliance of Children’s Advocacy Centers


Lugine Gray, Common Thread Partnership Director, BCFS HHS Louisiana,


Adoptions And Children Without Immigration Status

Panel Discussion

Led by Cassondra R. Johnson, Child Welfare Manager, Federal Programs and Grants, LA DCFS

Panel Members

Kristin Jones, JD, Supervising Attorney, Catholic Charities, New Orleans

Sandra Terrell, Attorney Supervisor, Covington Region, LA DCFS

Noon - 12:30 pm

Conference Wrap Up

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