In a day marked by repeated joyful connections, the 2023 Georgia Conference on Child Abuse & Neglect delivered on its promise to support those who serve Georgia’s families.
Held Sept. 14 at the Hilton Peachtree City Atlanta Hotel & Conference Center, the annual gathering of prevention professionals was held in person for the first time since 2019.
This year’s theme was “Thriving Families: That’s Our Why.”
In advance of the event, many of the close to 400 attendees shared their personal “why” they do the work they do.
During the sold-out conference, attendees were informed about preventing, intervening, and treating children and families impacted by child maltreatment.
This year’s conference was co-hosted by Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, the Stephanie V. Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy.
The 2023 Mark Chaffin Community Awards recipients were Steve Collins and Kathy Brown-Bragg. Collins is the founder and president of Adults Protecting Children, Inc., and Brown-Bragg serves as the Project Director for CHRIS 180s New Generations. This award is presented to individuals who have contributed mightily to preventing child abuse and neglect in Georgia.
Keynote speakers included Prevent Child Abuse America Chief Strategy Officer Jennifer Jones and Project Director of Federal Healthy Start Tennessee, Centerstone of Tennessee Inc. Rachel Hanson. The speakers delivered remarks about balancing ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) with HOPE (Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences), which provided a framework focused on promoting prevention and building positive childhood experiences.
Throughout the conference, attendees could attend workshops that discussed research, recommendations, community initiatives, and interventions. Topics included Peer Support: Finding & Utilizing Peer Support in Child Welfare, Connecting Caregivers to Support through Find Help Georgia, Vulnerable Child Syndrome, Motherhood Beyond Bars: Supporting Families Impacted by Maternal Incarceration, and Why Do Children Experience Maltreatment? Understanding Risk & Protective Factors.
The workshops were 75-minute sessions, allowing attendees to have interactive conversations on how to move the needle forward in preventing child abuse and neglect. The three hosting organizations were well pleased with the response to the conference and its popularity, with those working most intimately to support child abuse prevention efforts throughout the state.
PCA Georgia Executive Director Jennifer Stein welcomed the attendees to kick off the morning’s agenda, speaking about the collective “why” that motivated the assembled group.
“By investing in your professional development, you are investing in cultivating thriving families. And through your individual everyday contributions, you are magnifying your why,” Stein said. “As you experience the conference, be emboldened by your curiosity, be affirmed in your vocation, and be affirmed by your why.”
CHOA has been co-hosting with Prevent Child Abuse Georgia since 2016.
“Our mission at Children’s – to make kids better today and healthier tomorrow – truly shined through as we joined professionals from all over the state at the Georgia Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect to focus on thriving families,” said CHOA Program Coordinator, Prevention and Training Christy David. “To network with so many individuals who are Passionate about Kids, one of our core values, was extremely inspiring.”
A first-time co-host, the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy Prevention Team has been attending and presenting at the Georgia Conference on Child Abuse & Neglect for years, according to GCCA Director of Prevention and Education Tiffany Sawyer.
“We were thrilled to be included as hosts this year, especially for the first year back in person after COVID-19,” Sawyer said. “In addition to the wonderful workshops and networking, there was an amazing energy throughout the conference center. We’re honored to be part of this incredible prevention movement!”