Our 52nd Education Conference is Now Concluded!
All information about the 2023 conference will remain on our website as reference about this wonderful event.
As we start to plan for the 2024 53rd Education Conference, details will be posted here.
2023 Event – Speaker Spotlight
Rob and Reece Scheer are the proud fathers of five children from the foster care system who arrived at their home with trash bags. Growing up in foster care himself, Rob remembered feeling disposable as a child carrying a trash bag to his foster home, and he wondered how this could still be happening 30 years later.
In 2013, the Scheer family set out on a mission to eliminate the use of trash bags in the foster care system and provide children entering the system with brand new essential and comfort items. To date, Comfort Cases has impacted over 200,000 children in the foster care system.
Rob is currently the CEO of Comfort Cases, traveling the country to share his story and advocate for youth in foster care. He published his memoir in 2018: A Forever Family: Fostering Change One Child at a Time. Reece cares for their five children at home. They live on a farm in Darnestown, MD with 2 cats, 2 dogs, a bird, 3 goats, several chickens and ducks, and a pig named Penelope.
Rob will be our opening Keynote speaker at 9am on Friday morning.
A star on both the silver and small screens, including the Academy Award-winning film THE ARTIST, NBC’s iconic daytime series “Days of Our Lives,” ABC’s “General Hospital,” and a regular leading lady on the Hallmark Channel, actress/singer/philanthropist Jen Lilley has tackled countless roles throughout her illustrious career.
Truly selfless, she is a foster and adoptive parent herself and is a celebrity ambassador for the child abuse and treatment organization Childhelp, Project Orphans, ECPAT, Olive Crest, The Dave Thomas Foundation, The Thirst Project, The Los Angeles Mission, Oneless, A21, Children of the Night, and the Innocent Justice Foundation.
Jen Lilley’s creative prowess does not end when the director yells cut, she is also a singer and songwriter. Her music exudes the same sultry ferocity of Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, with Phil Spector’s wall of sound treatment via Rosie Danvers and her 50-piece orchestra. AXS.com said, “Lilley conjures up the sound of a 1960s girl group and embodies the same essence of Amy Winehouse. She takes a nostalgic twist on a modern song that will remind you of what classic music sounds like and have you longing for the days of Motown.”
When Jen Lilley is not busy in front of a camera, or perfecting her vocals in studio, she can be found hosting her podcast, “Fostering Hope with Jen Lilley” to demystify the foster care system and encourage loving people to get involved in the cause.
She is a true champion for charities. In addition to donating 100% of her music profits to create a neighborhood model of safe loving foster homes, she co-founded Christmas is Not Cancelled, Inc.: A marketing company that raises awareness and funds for amazing causes and nonprofits while giving participants the chance to win huge prizes!
As a teenager, Jen garnered the National Educators Award for her work in Guatemala. She is known for advocating children’s rights and supports charities that focus on protecting children against physical and sexual abuse, human trafficking, and the world water crisis.
Jen will be presenting with Dr. John DeGarmo on Sunday morning in the presentation, ‘“Importance of Connections”.
Rebecca Jones Gaston is the commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, at the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Administration on Children, Youth and Families manages the Children’s Bureau and the Family and Youth Services Bureau.
Before joining the Biden Administration via confirmation by the U.S. Senate in December 2022, Gaston was the child welfare director for the state of Oregon’s Department of Human Services that oversees child protection, foster care and adoption services, a position she held since 2019. During her time as director, Oregon launched a major transformation built on trauma-informed, family and community-centered and culturally responsive programs and services.
Prior to joining the Oregon senior management team, Gaston served as the executive director of the Maryland Department of Human Services’ Social Services Administration with oversight of child welfare and adult services. She has worked in the field of human services and child welfare for nearly 25 years as a social worker, advocate, therapist, consultant and administrator. Previously, she was a director with Casey Family Programs providing technical assistance to child welfare agencies throughout the United States and served as the national campaign director for AdoptUsKids, a collaboration with the Children’s Bureau and the National Ad Council. This major campaign, which she now oversees as commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, continues to help increase the numbers of foster and adoptive families across the country.
A proud mother of two young adults, Gaston holds a degree in psychology from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania.
Rebecca will be our Guest Speaker for our Awards Luncheon on Saturday, June 24th.
TEDx Talk and Transformative Speaker. International Expert in Foster Care and Parenting.
Dr. John DeGarmo is a TEDx speaker and an international expert in foster care and parenting. Dr. John and his family have been a foster family for over 60 children who have come through their home. He is a consultant to legal firms and foster care agencies, as well as a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system.
He is the author of several foster care books, including The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe, and Stable Home, and writes for several publications. Dr. John has appeared on Good Morning America, COURT TV, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS, Good Housekeeping, and more. He can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at The Foster Care Institute.
Dr. John DeGarmo
The Foster Care Institute
Visit The Foster Care Institute HERE.
Like Dr. DeGarmo on Facebook HERE.
Find Dr. John on Twitter @drjohndegarmo
‘For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in.’
Dr. John will be presenting with Jen Lilley on Sunday morning in the presentation, ‘“Importance of Connections”.
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Past Conference Attendees Said…
This conference was phenomenal. I was educated and inspired at the same time. It was great to see people that truly love what they do.
I really enjoyed the conference and all of the presenters. Every sessions was thought provoking. I look forward to using the information and resources to learn more. Thank you!!
This course brought a sense of normalcy to the concerns that I have had as I prepare to be a foster caregiver.
Thank you so much to those that shared their stories and advice. I know it will help me better understand how my choices impact the children I love so dearly.
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