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History and Past Conferences

Page history last edited by Bill James 11 years, 9 months ago


History of the Conference and Past Conference materials:   



One sunny day in 1990, Washington State child welfare training managers Rose Wentz and Katharine Cahn sat down to have a cup of coffee and talk about collaborating on child welfare training. As directors of two sometimes-competing training programs, they wanted to improve collaboration in the Pacific Northwest to improve the quality of child welfare training. They believed there was something unique and worth saving about the approach to training used in this region, and wanted a chance to develop the conversation.



Over this cup of coffee the idea of the first conference was born!  Rose and Katharine wanted something that was more of a gathering or a conversation than a formal conference. Instead of relying on expert, top-down training, they envisioned a small 1-2 day working meeting with lively exchanges and informal conversations among peers. They wanted to promote dialogue where participants could compare notes on challenges they had in common, emerging with new understanding, resources, and ideas to take back to their state.





Many features of the original meeting have remained constant. Each year the conference planning committee and the host institution contribute their time so as to keep costs affordable for child welfare training programs on limited budgets. With the exception of an occasional paid keynote speaker or pre-conference institute, every presenter pays his or her own way and stays to enjoy the rest of the conference.






On most years, an award is presented to someone who represents the values of the conference in the field of child welfare training.   Over the years, some features of the conference have changed. The regional net has been cast more widely to include California and recently other western states.






The conference location intentionally changes locations and has included Seattle, Portland, Anchorage, Oakland, Coeur D’Alene, Sacramento, San Diego and even Albuquerque! In addition to the original dialogue format, the program now always includes a track of workshops that are skill-based and offered for the new or developing trainer, as well as the more traditional conversation/dialogue gatherings. 




The planning process is conducted over a year's worth of conference calls by a volunteer committee, and headed by a Conference Chair and a Program Chair. The host for the conference contributes creativity, energy and staff-power as we lead into the conference and then execute the event!

Consistent feedback by new participants as well as veterans has been the theme of camraderie, sharing, and having fun! 



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