Kansas Caregiver Support Network 2021 Annual Conference

Thank you to all who attended our KCSN 2021 Conference this year!

We want to thank all of our sponsors, speakers and attendees for attending.

Sessions have been recorded and will be provided to those who registered and attended the conference.

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Keynote Speaker

Dr. John DeGarmo is a leading international foster care expert, consultant, and TED Talk speaker. He is the director of The Foster Care Institute, author of several foster care books, and acts as a consultant to foster care agencies.

  • February 23: Dr. John DeGarmo, Keynote Speaker
    Born in 1969, leading international foster care expert, consultant, and TED Talk speaker Dr. John DeGarmo has worn many hats throughout his life. Singing and dancing while touring around the world in the international supergroup, Up With People, serving as a D.J. at four different radio stations on two different continents, working in the professional wrestling industry, teaching English and Drama at the high school and college level, director of The Foster Care Institute, and founder and national development director of Never Too Late, a residential group home for boys in foster care. Dr. DeGarmo has had a variety of experiences. Dr. DeGarmo is married to Dr. Kelly DeGarmo, who hails from Australia, and the two of them have six children, both biological and adoptive. Dr. DeGarmo and his wife are also currently foster parents to three siblings, bringing their household to nine children. Dr. DeGarmo has been a foster parent to over 60 children over the years.
    He is the director of The Foster Care Institute, author of several foster care books, and acts as a consultant to foster care agencies. Dr. John is a High Content Speaker and informative trainer on the foster care system, and travels extensively across the globe, meeting with foster parents, child welfare workers, churches, schools, and organizations. Dr. John has appeared on several TV programs including CNN, Good Morning America, and ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, PBS stations. He writes regularly for many magazines and is a regular contributor to several publications, both in the United States and overseas.
  • February 25: Sandy Lessor, Court Processes and the Caregiver’s Voice
    This presentation will cover the roles of the various persons in the courtroom and an explanation of the terminology used in the courtroom. There will also be a very basic discussion about procedure and evidence. Time will be set aside to explore how best to get the voice of the caregiver and the child heard between and during court proceedings. The critical need for information from caregivers will be emphasized.

    Sandra Lessor was an Assistant District Attorney from November 1997 to June 2019. She was assigned to the Child In Need of Care Department of the Juvenile Division where she handled a full spectrum of cases from sexual abuse to neglect. As Assistant District Attorney, Mrs. Lessor assessed investigations to determine whether litigation was the appropriate course of action. She litigated various issues including temporary custody, adjudication, disposition, permanency, and termination of parental rights hearings. In addition, Mrs. Lessor has been active on the state level and serves on the Board for the Kansas Alliance for Drug Endangered Children. She was one of the founders of the Kansas Alliance for Drug Endangered Children – Sedgwick County, which began in 2001. Mrs. Lessor was honored with the Shawnee Regional Prevention and Recovery Services’ Partner in 2004.
    Sandra Lessor graduated from Washburn University School of Law with a Juris Doctor in May 1997. She has a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Kansas State University and is currently licensed in that capacity. Sandra became the Planned Giving Coordinator in the Office of Development and Planned Giving in June 2019. In this position, she has hosted educational seminars. She also assists with the Red Mass and Blue Mass. Mrs. Lessor also contributes articles to the Catholic Advance on Planned Giving topics. She enjoys communicating with individuals and groups regarding planned giving and scholarship opportunities. Sandra Lessor accepted the role of Victim Assistance Coordinator for the diocese in June 2020. In this position, she is the point of contact for individuals who present allegations of abuse by clergy or lay employees or volunteers of the diocese or our parishes.

  • February 26: Heather Barnett, Foster Parent Burnout
    Being a parent is a role that, even at the best of times, is challenging and pushes the most patient person to their limits. But a foster parent takes on more than just daily care when a child in the system comes into their home. Parenting a child that is not your own, that has experienced a life unbeknownst to you, is an opportunity for healing and nurturing. But it also comes with struggles that most foster parents could never fathom. This session will provide an opportunity for foster parents to discuss these challenges, as well as to learn ways to help keep their mental health intact during the most difficult times.

    Heather Barnett is a licensed specialist clinical social worker in private practice in Wichita, KS, with over 18 years of working in the mental health field. She has an extensive background in early childhood development and dual diagnosis, having spent eleven years at Rainbows United, Inc.. She has experience working with children of all ages, with a variety of challenges, including Autism, AD/HD, anxiety, depression, and trauma. She is a certified MAPP trainer, a Registered Play Therapist, and an Infant Mental Health Specialist. She consults with preschools across Wichita and is an adjunct professor in the Play Therapy Certificate Program at Wichita State University.

  • March 2: Paula Downs, Time Management and Organization
    In this session, we will take about challenges we face with our time and mistakes we often make in scheduling our time each day. We will provide strategies and ideas to schedule our time to make progress and overcome mistakes we make in our effort to “get it all done”. Join us to learn tips and tricks to prioritize time and organize our day.

    Paula Downs joined the Public Policy and Management Center in 2012 with more than 25 years of experience in the public sector, 13 of those as project manager. In her current role, she oversees special projects; develops and delivers training on a wide range of topics; and assists local governments and nonprofits with board training, strategic planning, facilitation services, and professional development. In addition, Paula has spent the last several years involved in community engagement efforts including, stakeholder interviews, focus group facilitation, survey development, citizen feedback sessions, and developing and utilizing tools that increase participation around identified topics. Paula holds a Master of Public Administration from Wichita State University.

  • March 4: Serena Hanson, Connecting with Older Youth
    Information to come!
  • March 5: Serena Hanson, Transitioning Age Youth – Preparing for Adulthood
    Information to come!
  • March 10: Elizabeth Wilson & Lindsay Brock, Suicide Prevention and Self-Harm Risk Identification
    This presentation will focus on identifying depression symptoms, being aware of previous trauma, and the impact of Covid-19. As well as, Exploring how to react to Suicide and Self-Harm, checking in and being connected to others, resources and support.

    Lindsay Brock, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist graduated from Kansas State University with her Bachelors in Family Studies and Human Services in 2012 and graduated from Friends University with a Master of Science in Family Therapy in 2014. While in the program, Lindsay interned at the Center on Family Living, providing services for children, individuals, couples, and family systems. She has worked at COMCARE Children’s since 2016 and has a year of experience working at COMCARE’S Crisis Center. Lindsay also works part-time in private practice at McKenzie and Associates LLC.

    Elizabeth Wilson graduated from Friends University with her Bachelors in Human Services and Criminal Justice in 2014. She then graduated from Wichita State University with a Master of Education in Counseling and a Graduate Certificate in Play Therapy in 2018. Elizabeth has worked at COMCARE Children’s since 2014. She is currently working as a children’s clinician, specializing in Sand Tray and Play Therapy.

  • March 11:Audra Kenneson, Person First: The Language of Working with Children who have Special Needs
    Everyone, regardless of whether or not they have a disability, is a person first. The words we use matter. This session will provide helpful information to individuals who work with, teach, care for, or support children who have special needs. The information discussed will include: the history of special education, basic information about IDEA, Rosa’s Law, and appropriate language to use in the field of disabilities and mental health.

    Audra Kenneson has worked with Rainbows United since 2007. She is currently coordinating the Mental Health and the Specialized Foster Care programs. She has been an adjunct professor at Butler Community College where she taught future, early childhood educators, about working with children who have disabilities.

  • March 12: Liz Brunscheen-Cartagena, Better Brains for Babies, Important of Play
    This Presentation will entail, Through play, children explore their environment and make sense of new and different information. The experiences children have during play help strengthen and expand networks of connections in their developing brains. During the early years, babies’ brains form many more connections than the brain will ever need. Play is all about interaction, connection, sensory learning. All-important learning takes place within the context of the play.

    Elizabeth Brunscheen-Cartagena is the Family Life and Resource Management agent at K-State Research & Extension in Sedgwick County, Wichita, KS. This is a job that allows her to bring out her passion helping citizens in the community gain knowledge and skills on how to improve their lives as individuals and as families. Liz has been with K-State Research & Extension for 15 years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Puerto Rico in Humanities and a Master’s Degree from Wichita State University in Hispano-American Literature with a minor in Early Childhood. 24 years ago she moved from Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment, to Kansas, the Land of OZ. Though her roots are firmly planted in her Puerto Rican heritage, Kansas is where she remarried and raised her three children. Now she can enjoy her two grandchildren.

  • March 16: Ms. Aimee Kozushko, Caring and Advocating for a Child Who Identifies as LGBTQ
    Ms. Aimee is a veteran foster parent with ten years’ experience parenting lgbtqia+ youth. She is an advocate for children and a mentor to other foster parents.

    Advocating and supporting LGBTQIA+ youth will give an overview of what it means to be a queer child in care and how that may feel to a child. The session will discuss respecting pronouns, providing a safe space, trauma, and mental health challenges, and where to find support.

  • March 18: Panel Discussion, Communicating with a Child’s Team
    Presenters are:

    Brittny Mueller, LMSW
    Title: CPA Supervisor
    Organization: KVC Kansas

    Traci Rasmussen,
    Title: Adoption Supervisor
    Organization: KVC Kansas

  • March 19: Sara Sawer, Getting Kids Involved in the Kitchen: Overcoming pickiness, recipes, cooking tips and tricks, and shopping on a budget
    This presentation will help participants learn the importance of proper nutrition for growth and development as well as tips and tricks to make healthy eating fun and more enjoyable.

    Sara Sawer, MPH, RD, LD, currently serves as the Nutrition, Health, and Wellness Agent for K-State Research and Extension (KSRE) Sedgwick County. In her previous roles, Sara worked as a Clinical Dietitian for Via Christi Health and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Manager at KSRE Sedgwick County. Sara has served in various roles for the Kansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (KSAND) and Wichita Dietetic Association (WDA). Sara serves on the K-State Dietetics Advisory Board and is active with a variety of coalitions in her community. In 2010, Sara was recognized by WDA and KSAND as the Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year. In 2017, she was recognized by WDA as the Distinguished Dietitian of the Year. In 2019, the Family and Consumer Sciences Department that Sara is a part of was honored as a Wichita Business Journal Healthcare Hero in Community Service. In 2020, she was honored by the K-State Research and Extension Epsilon Sigma Phi Alpha Rho Chapter with the Horizon Recognition Award.

Registration has concluded

February 23 – March 19, 2021
Virtual Conference
Free to all Kansas Caregivers
$25 for Non Caregivers!