More than 550 professionals in the child advocacy field attended the 22nd annual Community Response to Child Abuse Conference, held October 6-7 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.
The conference provided professional training and educational opportunities for teachers, medical professionals, dentists, law enforcement, social workers, mental health providers, youth service providers, the legal community and community members and child advocates.
Presenters discussed topics relevant to the well-being of children and families including:
- Understanding and Addressing the Impact of Domestic Violence on Children
- Kinship Care within the Child Welfare System
- Preventing Child Maltreatment through Parent Training
- Understanding Grooming in Child Maltreatment Cases
The conference was opened with a welcome by Chief Justice Steven R. Jensen of the South Dakota Unified Judicial System. Chadwick Sapenter presented a keynote entitled “The Art of Hope,” sharing his own experience of overcoming adversity, defying the odds, and how he was able to use the hardest things he’s faced in life to build a successful family and career. Al Killen-Harvey, Co-founder of The Harvey Institute, Inc., presented on the impact of secondary traumatic stress. “Spreading HOPE (Healthy Outcomes From Positive Experiences)” was the address given by Kimberly Ladd, Certified Prevention Specialist with Aligned Hope.
The Outstanding Service Award was presented to Virgena Wieseler by Department of Social Services Secretary Laurie Gill. Wieseler began her work with the Division of Child Protection Services as a Social Worker in 1981 and was soon promoted to Social Worker Supervisor and District Program Supervisor. In August of 1989, Virgena became the Deputy Division Director for Child Protection Services before accepting the Division Director Position in November of 1999, a position she held for almost 18 years. Virgena completed her career by serving as the Chief of Family Services for the SD Department of Social Services. Virgena dedicated her entire career to helping children in our great state find safety, support and services. Virgena was instrumental in aligning the state priorities with advancing sciences in child welfare. She assisted in developing the strategic plan for Jolene’s Law Task Force and was a founding member of the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment. Virgena advocated for the needs of children before the SD Legislature and was a constant voice of security and reason for advancing the needs of multidisciplinary teams.
The conference offerings will remain available to access through an online video portal, providing additional South Dakotans the opportunity to join the effort to end child maltreatment in the state.
Conference sponsors included Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment at the University of South Dakota, South Dakota’s Unified Judicial System Court Improvement Program and Child’s Voice at Sanford Health.
For more details about the conference go to https://conference.sdcpcm.com.