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Chief Justice kicks off Wisconsin Summit on Children and Families

Madison, Wisconsin - May 10, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson will provide the welcoming remarks at a statewide conference designed to improve outcomes for abused and neglected children in Wisconsin’s foster care system.  The 2011 Wisconsin Summit on Children and Families will take place May 11-12 at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells. More than 400 tribal and circuit court judges, attorneys, social workers and child advocates will attend.

The goal of the summit is to encourage collaboration among courts, tribes and social service agencies in the handling of cases involving abused and neglected children. The emphasis is on finding better ways to engage families to help achieve safe and permanent living situations for children in the foster care system.

The 2011 Wisconsin Summit on Children and Families is modeled after a 2005 national conference on child abuse and neglect attended by Abrahamson. A similar event was held in Wisconsin in 2008.

“The 2011 Summit will allow participants to learn about practical ideas that can be brought back to their local communities to fully engage parents, achieve permanency for the children in our care, and provide what kids need most – a family,” Abrahamson said.

Also featured at the Summit is Andrew Bridge, author of “Hope’s Boy: A Memoir.”  Bridge spent 11 years in the Los Angeles County, California, foster care system and went on to become a Fulbright Scholar and a graduate of Harvard Law School.  He has spent the majority of his legal career representing impoverished children and advocating for children in foster care.

Topics to be addressed at the Summit include the Wisconsin Indian Child Welfare Act, evidence-based practices relating to drug and alcohol addiction, engagement strategies dealing with mental health issues and the psychology behind change. Cindy Hamilton from Casey Family Programs and Judge Christopher R. Foley, Milwaukee County Circuit Court, will lead a panel of former foster youth who will share their personal experiences related to permanency in the Wisconsin child welfare system. 

Judge Ramona A. Gonzalez, La Crosse County Circuit Court, and Donald Maurer, Waukesha County Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Director, will serve as the co-hosts for the event.

The Summit is a co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families and the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Director of State Courts Office, Children’s Court Improvement Program.  The Children’s Court Improvement Program is a federal grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, to improve the handling of child abuse and neglect cases in the court system. 

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