Southern Bluegrass Citizen Review Panel Hosts Conference for Foster Parents and Social Workers

Foster parents and child welfare workers came together to share in camaraderie and education at Conversations on Collaboration.

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By: Tara Pulaski

LEXINGTON, Ky. — On Friday, April 12, the Southern Bluegrass Citizen Review Panel hosted a conference called A Conversation on Collaboration for regional foster parents and frontline child welfare workers during National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Citizen Review Panels (CRPs) are regional volunteer groups that aim to improve the safety and well-being of children and families in the Commonwealth.  

Kentucky’s nine CRPs are facilitated by the University of Kentucky’s College of Social Work (CoSW), in collaboration with Kentucky’s Department for Community Based Services (DCBS).  

A Conversation on Collaboration was hosted at the Lexington Public Library’s Eastside Branch and offered unique training opportunities to both foster parents and social workers. The conference name is a nod to bringing together foster parents, social workers, and community partners in collaboration for the good of the children they serve.  

“The conference provided training and resources from content experts to more than 40 frontline workers, foster parents, and school personnel,” Lisa Gabbard, chair of the Southern Bluegrass Citizen Review Panel, said. “These participants were also shown appreciation for their invaluable contributions to the Kentucky child welfare systems that keep our children safe with lunch and a thank you gift from the panel.” 

Conference sessions included substance use and harm reduction in youth, trauma-informed parenting, self-care, a lived experience panel (including a former foster youth, a kinship caregiver, and a birth parent), gun safety for children, and safe-haven boxes for surrendered infants. All groups came together to share in camaraderie, education, and lunch.  

In addition to collaboration, the conference sought to recognize the contributions of foster parents and frontline DCBS workers in Kentucky. These two groups were recognized as the backbones of the child welfare system, and they frequently work and collaborate together for the good of families in the Commonwealth.  

“CRPs make a difference by tackling the most salient child welfare issues in their regions. Caring volunteers come together to identify issues and formulate a plan to alleviate them,” Tara Pulaski, CRP Program Coordinator at the CoSW, said. 

Learn more about CRPs.

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For 85 years, the University of Kentucky College of Social Work (CoSW) has been a leader in social work education. As a college, we promote community and individual well-being through translational research and scholarship, exemplary teaching, and vital community engagement. We are committed to the people and social institutions throughout Kentucky, the nation, and the world. Like the University, CoSW is an organization that cultivates a diverse academic community characterized by interpersonal fairness and social justice. We are fiercely committed to developing outstanding social work professionals — leaders who will serve individuals, families, and communities through innovative and effective practices that are guided by cultural competency, systematic ethical analysis, and a keen and pragmatic understanding of the human condition.