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National Resource Center for Youth Services

The University of Oklahoma National Resource Center for Youth Services considers the health and safety of our participants, community, and staff are of the utmost importance. We currently have events scheduled for in person training and continue to assess the safety of holding these events daily. Check back regularly and join our mailing list for updates on our event schedules.

Webinar Archive

The National Resource Center for Youth Services has been hosting informative webinars since 2018.

Please choose a webinar to view below.

The Three Levels of Moves

Every child in out-of-home care has experienced at least one placement change, from home to placement. With each move, children and youth experience three levels of response to the move: emotional, physical, and cultural. This webinar will provide strategies for resource parents to assist children and youth as they work through each of these levels.

E. Gerri Mullendore has served as the Coordinator of Family Involvement with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse since 2008. She is currently serving on the Partnering with Family and Youth Committee with the NCTSN (National Child Traumatic Stress Network) as co-chair, as well as a family representative on Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration's Advisory Council. She is the 2019 winner of the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, Jane Adams Peer Support Award for individuals who demonstrate overall excellence in the provision of support to families who are parenting children and youth experiencing behavioral health challenges. Since 1991, Gerri and her husband have fostered 49 children with complex needs and mental health challenges and are the adoptive parents of four children. Ms. Mullendore is an active graduate of Oklahoma Partners in Policymaking and has advicated for children's mental health reform at both the state and national level.

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Global Gardens

There's no better time for young people (and adults!) to learn a life skill like gardening. In addition to the environmental benefits, gardening activities are also profoundly relaxing and peaceful — attributes which could not be more relevant than during a stressful time like now.

This webinar features a panel from Global Gardens, who discusses various aspects of creating and tending to a home garden.

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The Effect of Substances on Brain Development and Future Effects

Substance abuse in utero has devastating and lifelong effects, not only on a baby and family, but also in Oklahoma communities. In this presentation, the specific effects of prenatal substance exposure and how these effects progress as the child grows into adolescence will be discussed. In addition, resource parents will learn about Oklahoma's data regarding substance use during pregnancy, as well as Oklahoma laws that are in place to address the needs of infants born with and identified as being affected by illegal substance abuse.

Dr. Tessa Chesher is an Associate Clinical Professor at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She is dually board-certified in general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry. She received her general psychiatry training at The University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine, where she also completed a Harris Fellowship in Infant and Early Childhood Psychiatry. Dr. Chesher's professional interests include infant and early childhood mental health, early childhood trauma, and pediatric consultation-liaison psychiatry. She also focuses on increasing infant mental health knowledge in the medical and mental health communities through education and consultation across Oklahoma.

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Communicating Positively with Youth about Sex

Studies have shown that positive and healthy communication between youth and trusted adults in their lives yield the greatest outcomes for success. However, when it comes to sex, that communication can be difficult. Many of us know this from our own experiences not only as youth, but also as trusted adults. In this webinar, we will explore why communication about sexual health between youth and adults can be difficult and what trusted adults can do to increase their ability to have those difficult conversations regarding sexual health, relationships, and consent.

Jennifer Guel is a Health Education Specialist at Youth Services of Tulsa (YST). Youth Services values and accepts all youth, supporting and challenging them to embrace their potential. Jennifer provides reproductive health education and a connection to preventative health care for youth ages 13-24. Throughout her career in the nonprofit sector, she has worked with youth in faith-based, urban and international settings. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Church Administration and Leadership from Oklahoma Wesleyan University. She also earned a master's degree in Urban Studies with a youth development concentration from Eastern University in Philadelphia. Jennifer loves working with young people and is passionate about advocating for youth as people with assets and agency.

Samantha Higgs is a Health Education and Prevention Specialist at Youth Services of Tulsa (YST). She serves at-risk youth (13-24) in the Tulsa area by providing sexual health education and assisting young people in connecting with clinics for their sexual healthcare. Youth served include those experiencing homelessness, in foster care and waiting for placement, in the juvenile bureau, LGBTQI+ youth, as well as youth served in partner agencies and schools in Tulsa. Samantha has served as the Tulsa Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition (TTPPC) Secretary since January of 2018. She received her bachelor's degree from Oklahoma State University in Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS) and earned her master's degree from Oklahoma State University in HDFS with a focus on Child and Family Services.

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ACEs and PACEs: Reducing the Power of Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) influence the mental health and behaviors of children and youth. This webinar will briefly review the impact of ACEs, and the effect on brain development. New research from Oklahoma State University’s School of Human Development and Family Science has identified 10 Protective and Compensatory Experiences (PACEs), which are factors that can help to offset the harmful impacts of ACEs. These protective and compensatory experiences can build resiliency in children and youth, giving them the best chance for positive outcomes.

Ruth Slocum, MSW, LCSW, IMH-E®(III) is a family therapist in Tulsa, Oklahoma, specializing in infant and early childhood mental health. Employed by Oklahoma State University, she serves as the Mental Health Manager for the Tulsa Children's Project, a program dedicated to developing and evaluating interventions to disrupt the intergenerational cycle of poverty. She also oversees the Mental Health Consultation for Tulsa Educare, a high quality early childhood program for low income families, and provides Reflective Consultation to therapists working with families involved with the child welfare system.

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Psychiatric Medications in Youth: What Caregivers and Youth Should Know

Psychiatric illnesses often present during childhood and adolescence. Understanding signs of mental illness and knowing where to seek help is imperative in treating mental illness in youth. Partnership in treatment is essential, meaning that families, including youth, should be informed participants. In this seminar, we will discuss warning signs of mental illness, where to seek help, and how best to advocate for and with youth in need.

Sara Coffey, D.O. is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. She is a regionally known speaker concerning the impact of trauma on children and serves as an expert in integrated care models and in the best practices of integration and collaboration between primary care and behavioral health. Dr. Coffey is also a consultant for the Department of Human Services Child Welfare to support the mental health needs of children and youth in the foster care system.

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Working Toward Trauma-Informed Responses: Understanding the Relationships Among Early Childhood Experiences, Attachment, and Substance Abuse

In this webinar, participants will learn how drug and alcohol use by parents affects a child's brain, early childhood relationships, and attachment to others. Additionally, participants will learn the importance of having a trauma-informed response system to assist children and youth affected by substance abuse in the healing process.

Dr. Lana Beasley is a licensed Clinical Child Psychologist and is currently an Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Science at Oklahoma State University. She has lectured widely on issues relating to vulnerable children, youth, and families. Dr. Beasley is an experienced researcher and has published multiple articles relating to high-risk families.

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What Resource Parents Need to Know About Foster Care and Adoption Policy

This webinar will highlight foster care policy that is helpful for resource parents to be aware of. It reviews the rights and responsibilities of resource parents, as well as home requirements and who can provide informal care for a child in custody. The webinar presenter will also walk you through searching and locating DHS policy on your own.

Lindsey Jones is a Program Field Representative with the Foster Care and Adoption Program at DHS. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Oklahoma in 2005. She began her career with DHS in 2010, working with kinship and traditional families for 3 years before becoming a foster care supervisor and, subsequently, a Program Field Representative. As a Program Field Representative with the foster care program, Lindsey works with policy, contracts, and foster parent support.

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The Connection of Trauma and Attachment in a Baby's Brain

The first years of development are an amazing time in which a baby's brain is growing quicker than any other time in life. Traumatic events can have a large impact on this growth, making it difficult to care for a baby affected by trauma. Join us to learn how a baby's brain grows and is changed in traumatic environments, as well as how trauma affects the whole body. Dr. Tessa Chesher will discuss how attachment is affected by trauma and how powerful responsive relationships are to a baby healing from trauma.

Dr. Tessa Chesher is an associate clinical professor at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She is dually board-certified in general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry. She received her general psychiatric training at The University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine, where she also completed a Harris Fellowship in Infant and Early Childhood Psychiatry. Dr. Chesher's professional interests include infant and early childhood mental health, early childhood trauma, and pediatric consultation-liaison psychiatry. She also focuses on increasing infant mental health knowledge in the medical and mental health communities through education and consultation across Oklahoma.

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Cultivating Resilience: Prioritizing Self-Care to Cope with Family Adversity

Resource parenting is a complex process that takes many cognitive, emotional, and behavioral regulation resources. These resources can be diminished by stress, trauma, and adversity – both from a resource parent's current life and from a resource parent’s own childhood. This workshop will explore some of the ways that parents' pasts (both bio parents and resource parents) can impact our everyday interactions with the children in our care. The workshop will also explore the importance of self-care and other research-informed strategies to build and maintain our resources and systems of resilience.

Shannon Stark Guss is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy at the University of Denver. Her research focuses on the relationship between family adversity and children's learning and development, including how parents' skills can protect children from the intergenerational cascade of abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction. Shannon and her husband are former resource parents who adopted their foster daughter after many years of struggling with bio family reunification. Shannon and her husband continue to learn how to support their daughter's unique needs and strengths from experience, community, and research.

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Fact or Fiction? Supports and Services for Teens in Foster Care

Fact or Fiction? Teens in foster care are eligible for free college. Teens in foster care are totally different than "regular" teens. Teens in foster care have bad attitudes. Come join us as we unpack what's a fact, what's fiction, and what's really available to help Oklahoma's teens successfully transition to adulthood.

Falen LeBlanc has been supporting foster youth through advocacy and program development for over 15 years. During her time as an Independent Living Program Specialist for the state of Idaho, her innovation and passion helped make Idaho a model program for supporting transition-aged foster youth. Falen brings that same level of passion and experience to the National Resource Center for Youth Services, where she directs the Oklahoma Successful Adulthood program, sharing her expertise in the areas of transition to adulthood, positive youth development, and cultural responsiveness through program consultation and training. Falen earned her master's degree in social work from Northwest Nazarene University.

Robbie Wheet has been working with and advocating for transition-aged youth for over 15 years. Her experience includes working with adolescents in residential care, as well as in case management and foster parent support and development. Robbie currently works for the National Resource Center for Youth Services, focusing on youth development and independent living services, as well as providing consultation and training for youth services professionals in Oklahoma who serve transition-aged youth. She also facilitates training for youth-serving agencies nationwide in the areas of residential youth care and behavior management. Robbie obtained a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Tulsa.

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Making a Difference in Foster Care

Children and youth in foster care have higher rates of disease than their peers, and as a group, they experience poorer health and social outcomes. During this webinar, Dr. Shropshire will talk about the needs of children and youth in foster care, the impact of adversity and trauma on health, and what it takes to reverse these influences. She will also talk about what can be done to move the child welfare system to become a "system of hope and resilience."

Deborah Shropshire, MD, M.H.A. serves as Oklahoma's Director of Child Welfare Services. Since joining the Department of Human Services, Dr. Shropshire has served families and children in many roles, including Medical Director for Child Welfare Services and Deputy Director of Child Welfare Community Partnerships. She is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at The University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. From 2001 to 2015, she was also the Medical Director at the former Pauline E. Mayer Children's Shelter and helped develop the Fostering Hope Clinic for children and youth residing in foster care. However, it is her belief that we can influence child welfare work to create a better future for the families of Oklahoma that makes this presentation informative, innovative, and valuable.

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Education for the Student in Foster Care

This informative webinar provides an overview of the educational challenges foster youth encounter, the laws pertaining to their education, and resources parents and professionals can use to support young people to get their academic needs met.

Julia Sterr, MA
Oklahoma DHS Education Liaison

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Supporting the Emotions of Those Fostering Children

For resource parents, experiencing feelings of loss and grief while caring for children removed from their family of origin is the norm. Empathy for foster children, as well as the loss felt when a child leaves a resource family home, can sometimes compound resource parents' feelings of grief and loss. In this webinar, factors affecting grief and loss when serving as a resource parent will be identified, and the feelings that accompany working with difficult foster children or attempting to adopt children from the child welfare system will be discussed. Lastly, strategies to assist and support resource parents as they address and manage loss and grief will be presented.

Emilie McCartney Smith began her career in Portland, Oregon, after graduating with a bachelor's degree in social science - psychology from Marylhurst University, and subsequently with a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Lewis and Clark College, Graduate School of Professional Studies. She qualified for her license as a Licensed Professional Counselor, both in Oregon and Oklahoma, and has worked in Community Mental Health and private practice, Emilie currently works for the Tulsa-based Tristesse Grief Center as a counselor, helping people with a variety of grief issues to find a fulfilling path for their lives following loss. She is interested in the foster care system and its effect on children and families, specifically around grief and loss issues.

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How to Work with Children of Color: Hair and Skin

This webinar will provide a deep dive into ethnic hair and skincare practices to help equip caregivers in addressing these culturally-specific needs with their children. Cut it Forward is a non-profit organization working to provide culturally-focused, holistic hair and skincare resources for foster and adopted youth of color, and their caregivers. Cut it Forward presenters will give an overview of the cultural significance and history of ethnic hair, health conditions that can impact ethnic hair and skin, styles and general maintenance, product tips, and ongoing resources available to caregivers.

Nekesha Griffis and her husband are owners of Mane Results Salon in Oklahoma City. Nekesha has always had a passion for the hair industry and serves on the board of the non-profit Cut It Forward as its Cosmetology Director. To promote accessible education, Cut It Forward members work to provide culturally-focused, holistic hair and skin care resources for foster and adopted youth of color and their caregivers. Nekesha takes pride not only on the care she and her team take to cater to each guest, but also on the knowledge they offer.

Krystle Robinson-Hershey is a practitioner and advocate for compassionate care for individuals. She earned double Master’s degrees in Rehabilitation Counseling and Visual Rehabilitation Services and has used that knowledge to become a business innovator. Krystle has combined her love for people, her appreciation of the arts, her many years of corporate business experience, and her belief in self-care into a line of products designed to nurture, nourish, and rejuvenate mind, body, and soul. Her company, Sage and Elm Apothecary, exemplifies its mission to provide herbal, natural, and holistic skincare beauty designed around a client’s skin type, ethnicity, culture, and preferences.

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Finding Our True North: A Conversation with New DHS Director Justin Brown

Join us for a conversation with newly-appointed DHS Director Justin Brown and Foster Care Ombudsman Lisa Buck regarding Director Brown's vision for DHS, and the journey to find "our true north." You will love this opportunity to get to know Director Brown and hear his plans to support Oklahoma's most vulnerable children, families, and resource parents.

In June 2019, Justin Brown accepted the appointment by Governor Kevin Stitt to be the Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Prior to joining DHS, Brown served as the Chief Executive Officer of Choice Capital Partners, a company dedicated to senior assisted living projects across three states. Brown's desire to serve Oklahoma's families has been evident through his efforts to aid organizations such as the Children's Hospital Foundation, the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma City Zoo, and the Alzheimer's Association.

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The Way a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Can Impact the Life of a Child

Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers (CASAs) play a unique role in the lives of children and youth residing within the child welfare system. A CASA is charged by the court to serve as a member of a child's professional team and represent the best interests of that child or youth. The court system can be challenging to navigate and understand, and a CASA can help bridge that gap. Learn more about the role played by these community volunteers, and the unique contributions they make.

Sheryl Marseilles, MSW has worked in the area of child advocacy and with Court Appointed Special Advocates for 30 years. She served as the Executive Director of Cleveland County CASA, the first CASA program in the state, and played a critical role in the growth and development of CASA statewide. She currently serves as CEO for Oklahoma CASA.

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Law and Order: Understanding the Court System for Foster Parents

Lisa Buck, the Foster Care Ombudsman, is not a lawyer, nor does she play one on TV. However, she has been a foster parent swimming in the court system for quite some time. During the webinar, Lisa will break down some court terminology, what to do and not to do in court, how to write a court report, and more!

Lisa Buck serves as the Foster Care Ombudsman for the state of Oklahoma. She assists both resource parents and children in out-of-home placement who may have complaints or grievances against employees of OKDHS or child placing agencies.

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You Have Rights!! Rights of Foster Parents & Foster Children

Did you know foster parents and foster children have rights specifically for them that are protected by statute? It’s true! Learn what your rights are as a foster parent, as well as the rights of the children you serve. The presentation will also include the steps to take if you believe your rights have been violated.

Lisa Buck serves as the Foster Care Ombudsman for the state of Oklahoma. She assists both resource parents and children in out-of-home placement who may have complaints or grievances against employees of OKDHS or child placing agencies.

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Advocating Without Being Adversarial

Resource Parents are an integral part of the Child Welfare Team. Learn how to communicate effectively with the child welfare and court team members.

Lisa Buck serves as the Foster Care Ombudsman for the state of Oklahoma. She assists both resource parents and children in out-of-home placement who may have complaints or grievances against employees of OKDHS or child placing agencies.

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Trauma-Informed Caregiver Responses to Children's Problematic Behaviors

Children in the foster care system have experienced trauma and adversity resulting in problematic behaviors. Learn a trauma-informed approach to respond to children’s problematic behaviors.

Sara Coffey, M.D. is an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences. She is a regionally known speaker on the impact of trauma on children. Dr. Coffey consults with DHS and OCHA to support the mental health needs of children in the foster care system.

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The Impact of Trauma on Healthy Growth and Development

Trauma that occurs in the earliest years of life impacts healthy growth and development in significant ways. Creating environments that heal begins with understanding how it impacts brain development, attachment, self-regulation, sensory processing, and learning.

Dr. Barbara Sorrels is the executive director of The Institute for Childhood Educations and the author of the award-winning book, Reaching and Teaching Children Exposed to Trauma. She has worked in the field of early childhood education for over 40 years serving as a teacher, program director, and university professor.

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