University of South Florida

College of Behavioral and Community Sciences


School of Social Work supports conference related to child welfare

Chris Groeber, Riaan van Zyl, Brooke Bass

Chris Groeber, Riaan van Zyl, and Brooke Bass speak at the pre-conference event.

The School of Social Work recently sponsored the "Listening to Connect" event, which preceded the Safe Children Coalition conference. Supported also by the Duvall Family Studies Foundation, the event focused on the collective stories of daily practice with children, youth, families, and the community.

panelists and audience

Panelists speak at the pre-conference event.

Panelists on five panels shared their stories about how involvement in the child welfare system affected them. Event attendees listened with the goal of developing a better understanding of how the system of care works well and how improvements can make a difference.

School of Social Work Director Riaan van Zyl, PhD, and Associate in Research Chris Groeber, MSW, participated in a panel discussion and Groeber facilitated many conversations at the event.

Multiple representatives of the School of Social Work also participated in the Safe Children Coalition conference. Two faculty members, David Kilmnick, PhD, MSW, and Pam Alvarez, DM, MSW, shared their expertise with conference attendees.

Kilmnick, Fox and Teachout

Kilmnick, Fox, and Teachout present their research findings.

Kilmnick led a workshop titled, "Embracing Inclusivity: Fostering Safe Spaces for LGBTQ+ Youth in Child Welfare." He stressed the importance creating safe and inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ children and adolescents who face unique challenges, including discrimination, bias, and lack of understanding within the child welfare system. 

Two online Master of Social Work students presented alongside Kilmnick. The two students, Shawn Fox and Valerie Teachout,  said that the experience enhanced their career readiness

Alvarez's presentation, "Choosing Happiness: It Can Be Yours," focused on science-based practices to enhance coping skills and self-regulation. Alvarez taught participants how to improve their well-being with simple, free tools and resources.

Members of the school’s Child Welfare Training Team Erika Evans, MSW, and Jessica Carter, MS, CWT presented "How Do You See Me? Trauma Informed Care Through the Eyes of Animated Characters." The team discussed viewing system-involved children and families through a trauma-informed lens and ensuring positive outcomes through supports and resources.

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The Mission of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS) is to advance knowledge through interdisciplinary teaching, research, and service that improves the capacity of individuals, families, and diverse communities to promote productive, satisfying, healthy, and safe lives across the lifespan. CBCS envisions the college as a globally recognized leader that creates innovative solutions to complex conditions that affect the behavior and well-being of individuals, families, and diverse communities.