CWDA 2011 Symposium
Strengthening Families, Creating Economic Security, Building Healthy Communities


Symposium Brochure and Speaker Biographies

All presentations are in PDF format. Contact the CWDA office to find out if presentations are available in PowerPoint format.

Day 1: Wednesday, October 5, 2011

General Sessions

The Changing Relationship Between the Federal Government and Human Services

David Bradley, Executive Director, National Community Action Foundation

The nature of the federal government’s response to poverty and the relationship with human services programs is undergoing a dramatic change. Not since the 1960s or perhaps even the 1930s have the roles of government, private sector and individuals been as hotly debated as they are today. David Bradley will explain why we as a society find ourselves in this situation, what is likely to happen, and what we can do to impact the outcome.

Recreating Conditions that Lead to Greater Self-Sufficiency

Maurice Lim Miller, President/CEO, Family Independence Initiative

We have reached a point in history where discourse has lost its civility, and populations are being pitted against one another. The safety net, institutions, and government are all being questioned. Is there opportunity out of all this adversity? Absolutely. America has a storied history of entire communities moving from poverty to self-sufficiency. This session will look at the elements that led to the self-determination and mutuality that created the “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, led poor Irish to dominate some industries, and Cambodian refugees in the 1990s to own 80 percent of the donut shops in California. We will look at the Family Independence Initiative and how it recreates the conditions under which generation after generation of Americans has moved to self-sufficiency – and how we can help residents lead such initiatives.

Mini-Plenary Sessions

Synergy Charter Academy – Working Together to Improve Academics, Reduce Poverty

Eliminating the achievement gap and creating educational equity for all students – those are far from easy goals but that’s what Meg and Randy Palisoc set out to do more than seven years ago when they opened their first Synergy Charter Academy campus in South Los Angeles. In this session, Meg and Randy Palisoc, co-founders of Synergy Academies, and several parents will discuss the academies’ focus on how working together as a community can help to reduce poverty and build capacity for both students and families.

Social Services and Community Action Agencies – Building Partnerships that Result in Greater Economic Security

For too long, well-intentioned community-based organizations and county social service departments have sought to address poverty by merely addressing the symptoms but have failed by not getting to the root of the issues facing families and individuals. Hear how county departments and local community action agencies are shifting away from poverty maintenance by developing upstream strategies and investing in evidence-based programs to improve the lives of low-income people. This session will also highlight federal, state and private partnerships that have been used to create synergy regarding improved economic security for low-income communities.

Helping Families Become Financially Empowered

Too much month at the end of the money. That’s the challenge many families in poverty face each month. Often they pay more for basic financial services – such as cashing paychecks or paying their bills – than other families. How do California families manage what little money they have, and not just get by but also handle emergencies and even plan for the future? Rourke O’Brien will provide an intimate snapshot of how CalWORKs recipients manage their financial lives, and José Cisneros will discuss how and why cities and counties can and should financially empower low-income residents.

Success Stories and Collaboration in Nutrition Education

Local nutrition education programs for low-income families promote increased fruit and vegetable consumption and daily physical activity, essential keys to improving health. This session will highlight successful and innovative programs from around the state, discuss current issues in state and federal policy, and identify opportunities for collaboration and joint efforts. Current research findings indicate the percent of low-income adults who reached the minimum five-serving goal for fruit and vegetable consumption rose from a baseline of 24 percent in 1997 to 46 percent in 2007; and from 2000 to 2009, California’s overall ranking for fruit and vegetable consumption rose from 11th to 5th among all states. Participants will learn how local programs are contributing to these improvements, and discuss how we can build upon this progress to better help our clients improve nutrition in their homes.

Day 2: Wednesday, October 6, 2011

General Session

The Nexus of Place and Health

Dr. Tony Iton, Senior Vice President for Health Communities, The California Endowment

Overall, Californians’ health has improved over the years. Unfortunately, health improvements have not been realized equally across population subgroups with stark inequities seen in life expectancy rates and early mortality driven by chronic diseases. And it’s clear that where you live matters – a lot. Hear Dr. Tony Iton discuss the Alameda County Public Health Department’s approach to building a healthier community through community capacity building, youth development, setting a local policy agenda, and building internal capacity. He’ll also explain why building health communities and achieving health equity means fighting for social justice.

Morning Mini-Plenary Sessions:

Winning Wage Justice

Low-income workers struggle to make ends meet at today’s wages, but many face an even greater challenge: wage theft. Millions of the working poor who are receiving less than the minimum wage are being forced to work “off the clock” or are being denied pay for overtime. The National Employment Law Project has researched and documented this phenomenon, and has proposed specific, concrete policies to battle abuses at the state and local levels. In this session, representatives from NELP will present their findings along with a menu of innovative policies to strengthen enforcement of minimum wage and overtime laws.

Looking Beyond the Basic Symptoms – Integrating Medical, Social and Mental Health Services

A patient visits a clinic with what seem like routine health issues. But pushed to share a little more, and the doctor learns the adult patient experienced years of childhood trauma never addressed. Dr. Nadine Burke encounters such situations daily at her Bayview Child Health Center, a community-based satellite clinic of California Pacific Medical Center. It’s her work there that led her to focus on serving a medically underserved area where issues of poverty and race present challenges to conventional healthcare and education. Working with the City and County of San Francisco and the Child Abuse Prevention Center, clinic, staff and others are working to improve health outcomes through innovative approaches that integrate medical, social and mental health services.

Into Adulthood – Supporting Transitional Foster Youth into the Next Stage of Life

Given the increased number of at-risk older foster youth who reach adulthood without continued support, preparing youth to successfully transition to adulthood is a key challenge for counties and the state. This session will look at two successful programs working to address this challenge. In Alameda County, a public-private partnership led to the creation of the Fresh Start Cafe, staffed with youth who work for $8 an hour, earn food handling certification, and course credit toward high school graduation. In Tuolumne County, the Housing and Opportunities for Emancipated Foster Youth (HOPE) House gives youth a place to learn about living independently while giving them a safe place to sleep. Both programs were winners of 2010 California State Association of Counties Challenge Awards.

Afternoon Mini-Plenary Sessions:

Strengthening Families Framework – Building Strong Communities in Support of Families

Strengthening Families is a research-based, cost-effective framework developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy to increase family strengths, enhance child development and reduce child abuse and neglect. It focuses on building five “Protective Factors” for families in communities that also promote healthy outcomes. Utilized in more than 30 states, including several California counties, the framework has led to major shifts in policy, funding, and training to help programs working with children and families build Protective Factors with families. In this session, participants will learn the history and research behind this framework, and learn from the efforts and leadership of the director of the State of Illinois Child and Family Services. Participants will also hear about efforts underway in California and discuss strategies for local implementation.

SparkPoint Centers – One-Stop Shopping for Families

The United Way of the Bay Area and the Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department provide an overview of an exciting new model for helping families find “pathways out of poverty.” Two recently launched “SparkPoint Centers” in Contra Costa County implement a national model for providing “one-stop shopping” to help families achieve financial stability and self-sufficiency. United Way has partnered with the department and community nonprofits to offer a full range of services at each center, including job training, career development, credit counseling, matched savings and financial coaching, as well as access to higher education.

Preparing for the Growing Aging Population

By 2030, more than 70 million Americans – twice the number in 2000 – will be 65 and over. How can counties and community agencies best respond to changing demographics and a growing aging population? How will those changes impact your community, and how do you do business as a social service agency in California? Join us to hear about the National Aging Network and learn from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the leading voice on aging issues for area agencies on aging and a champion for Title VI Native American aging programs.

General Session

Race, Poverty and Insecurity in Today’s Political Agenda

Melissa Harris-Perry, Professor of Political Science, Tulane University, Author of Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

The data are clear: the pain of the economic downturn is being felt far more acutely by some Americans than by others. And the poor, who are getting poorer each year, are blamed for their own circumstances, even as major corporations pay more to CEOs than they contribute in taxes. Melissa Harris-Perry will discuss how we can craft a political agenda that makes alleviating poverty our top priority and explain why doing so is necessary to save the American dream.