Voices for Children of San Antonio

Established in 1996 as A Vision for Children, the founding Board was comprised of providers of children’s services, as well as business, foundation and academic representatives, all advocates whose mission was, and is, to improve the quality of life for children in our community and to make San Antonio the best city in the nation to be a child. In 2001 the organization was incorporated as a separate 501(c)3 non-profit organization, committed to improving the quality of life for San Antonio’s children through research, strategic planning, advocacy and action. A Vision for Children became a member of Voices for America’s Children as Voices for Children of San Antonio. Since 1998, Voices for Children has presented our Annual Congress on Children, an educational forum for child advocates from throughout the community to gather, network, hear about the latest research and best practices that affect children and prioritize efforts for the coming year(s).


Voices for Children of San Antonio is a research and advocacy organization committed to making young children’s issues a priority in the San Antonio community. We network nearly 2,000 community stakeholders from more than 500 organizations, working to improve the quality of life for San Antonio’s kids. Voices’ broad areas of interest include abuse and neglect; early care and education; and infant/child safety & health care. Voices for Children, with volunteer co-chairs, directs task forces and working groups to seek improvement in these areas. These committees meet regularly throughout the year to continue work toward positive change in policies, programs and practices that impact young children.


For fifteen years, Voices for Children of San Antonio has presented the annual Congress on Children, an opportunity for our community’s child advocates to gather, network, learn about current and emerging issues for children, receive updates on research and legislation and develop priorities and strategies to improve the quality of life for children. The focus this year is on social, emotional and mental development and wellbeing. We are honored to have Robin Karr-Morse, counselor and author of Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence and Scared Sick: The Role of Childhood Trauma in Adult Disease, on the lifelong physical as well as mental effects of early infant and childhood experiences present as our Keynoter. A panel of legislators and state organization leaders will provide a recap of the recent legislative session. Afternoon sessions include presentations on prevention and management of childhood injuries, responses to the psychological needs of children in the aftermath of a crisis and the needs of children in military families. Last year, approximately 400 individuals attended. The audience is diverse and includes representatives of child-serving agencies, schools, health care institutions/hospitals, academic institutions, city/ county/ state departments, child care/ early childhood centers, foundations, judges and legislators. For the third year, parent leaders will participate, along with their agencies. C.E.U.s will be provided for Licensed Professional Counselors, Social Workers & Early Professionals.

Thank you to all of our sponsors who helped make this year’s Congress on Childen a success. Your generious compassion towards the improvement of children’s wellbeing is unparralled. On behalf of the Voices’ Board of Directors and Staff, THANK YOU!


Robin Karr-Morse, Author & Therapist
To get to the root of many issues facing our nation today— including juvenile violence, adult incarceration, and the looming health crisis—we must look more deeply than our current focus and to the cradle of human formation in earliest development. As a family therapist and having served more than 20 years in Oregon’s education and child welfare systems, Robin KarrMorse has drawn together the latest science in psychology, biology, neurology, and genetics to write two popular books that take readers inside the reality of early development. Ghosts from the Nursery looks at the relationships between child abuse and neglect in the first three years of life and aggression and violence in later years. Scared Sick examines the role of early trauma in the later development of heart disease, addiction, and a host of illnesses currently escalating in our nation. Robin Karr-Morse views the goal of her work as empowering parents and persuading policymakers to reshape social policy so that we begin to support families in building healthy children rather than continuing to build larger and larger systems to fix or contain broken adults. Her message, based on the emerging research, is an optimistic but urgent call to action. It is impossible to forget the horrific images of violence that we face every day as we worry about the world our children are growing up in. And it is impossible not to wonder what we can do to make it better. Robin Karr-Morse knows firsthand the daunting challenge of raising healthy children. As co-author of Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence, she offers a shocking but empowering message: To understand violent behavior, we must look earlier - before adolescence, before grade school, before preschool - to the cradle. Karr-Morse’s startling evidence points out that violent behavior is born and cultivated as early as the first months of life. It is well known that the foundations for trust, empathy, a good conscience, and lifelong learning are laid down in infancy. It is also the time when a predisposition towards violent behavior is “hardwired” into the brain, which is a phenomenon strongly influenced by the environment and one’s neurobiological composition. Her latest book, Scared Sick: The Role of Childhood Trauma in Adult Disease, discusses the repercussions of chronic fear in infants - when we are at our most helpless - into adulthood, and how these may trigger common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity in adults. Both books, Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence & Scared Sick: The Role of Childhood Trauma in Adult Disease, will be on sale and available for a book signing immediately following the presentation and during lunch.


CITY GOVERNMENT City Council Representatives Mayor Julián Castro District 1: Diego M. Bernal District 2: Ivy R. Taylor District 3: Rebecca J. Viagran District 4: Rey Saldaña District 5: Shirley Gonzales District 6: Ray Lopez District 7: Cris Medina District 8: Ron Nirenberg District 9: Elisa Chan District 10: Carlton Soules



Legislative Update, Roundtable Discussion
10:45am - 12:00pm
BEXAR COUNTY COMMISSIONERS County Judge: Nelson W. Wolff Precinct 1: Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez Precinct 2: Paul Elizondo Precinct 3: Kevin Wolff Precinct 4: Tommy Adkisson TEXAS STATE SENATORS District 19: Carlos I. Uresti District 21: Judith Zaffirini District 25: Donna Campbell District 26: Leticia Van de Putte TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVES District 53: Harvey Hilderbran District 73: Doug Miller District 116 Trey Martinez-Fischer District 117: Philip A. Cortez District 118: Joe Farias District 119: Roland Gutierrez District 120: Ruth Jones McClendon District 121: Joe Strauss District 122: Lyle Larson District 123: Mike Villarreal District 124: José Menéndez District 125: Justin Rodriguez U.S. SENATORS Senator John Cornyn Senator Ted Cruz U.S. REPRESENTATIVES District 20: Joaquín Castro District 21: Lamar Smith District 23: Pete P. Gallego District 24: Henry Cuellar District 35: Lloyd Doggett
Who’s represents you? Find out here: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx

- Ashley Harris, Texans Care for Children, Madeline McClure, TexProtects, Kathy Bruck, PreK4SA and all of the local, state and federal representatives listed on pages 4 & 5. (Note: all city council & state legislators were invited to attend this roundtable discussion) This roundtable discussion disects the 83rd Legislative Session that took place this year. It will highlight the achievements and the failures of establishing and/or protecting our youngest citizens both in San Antonio and in Texas. Why is Texas so poorly ranked and what can we do to strategize for the future? Advocacy in action must be implemented and embedded. Will you be a Voice for Children? Following the roundtable discussion, Kathy Bruck, CEO of PreK4SA, will present a brief update on the city-wide effort: PreK4SA. Why was it created? How is the progress? What obstacles must be overcome to ensure secure?
A state representative helps people and tries to move society forward and also tries to make society a better place for all people to live in. Some of the responsibililites of a state representative are to: 1. Vote on laws. 2. Assist people with constituent services. 3. Try to improve the communities they represent. 4. Protect the taxpayer’s money by making sure tax dollars are spent on education, affordable housing, reasonable transportation, fire and police protection, etc. If communities do not have strong representatives that listen to the voice of the people, you end up with representatives that dictate their own goals and agendas, and represent special interest groups that give them money. A state rep should also have had a strong background in community involvement and advocacy prior to becoming a state representative. This service need not have been on a political level but one should be able to look at his or her history and see that this is a person that cares for the well-being of others and have made positive contributions and is unselfish. More than any other part of our government, the House of Representatives is directly responsible and responsive to the people. A representative speaks for about 550,000 people in his or her own district--the district in which he or she lives. On the other hand, a senator speaks for all the people in his or her state. A senator, therefore, must consider the interests of all the people in his or her state whether they are farmers, businessmen, laborers, or oil millionaires. A representative can have a more narrow focus on issues, because he or she speaks for the people in a smaller area. He or she can travel the represented area and hear the complaints and hopes of the people in the district. When people in his or her district visit Washington, the representative tries to see them and make arrangements for them to see special sites of interest.


Workshop I - 1:00 - 2:25pm
Auditorium A: “Perspective Truth on ADHD & Medications”
-Thomas Matthews, MD, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio ADHD is routinely diagnosed and treated, but also routinely misunderstood. This presentation will review the criteria used to make the diagnosis, discuss a simple and methodical way to look at treatment, and address misconceptions that people may have. Time will be left for a Q&A session at the end to address specific questions the audience may have.

Auditorium B: “Military Families In Our Midst: Responding to the Needs of Military and Veteran Children Through Community Support”
-Elisabeth Stafford, MD & Julia Yeary, Zero to Three The past decade has brought many challenges to military children and their families, resulting in the need for sensitive, trauma-informed care. How can a community respond to meet their needs? This workshop will share with you a little about the culture of military, discuss the impact of the unique challenges incurred from multiple family separations, reunifications, combat exposure and the risk of injury or death for children from birth through teens who are military-connected. Strategies for supporting these potenially vulnerable children and resources to support their needs will be shared with participants of this workshop.

Auditorium C: “Preventing & Managing Childhood Injury”

-Summer Ott, PsyD, Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Institute, Concussion Program; Clayton Hansen, DC, Maximized Living; Katherine Ratcliff, Any Baby Can Presenters will highlight the importance of childhood safety and managing and preventing injury. Dr. Summer Ott will present research and the future direction of sports-related concussions. Dr. Clayton Hansen will discuss the most common traumas during childhood, beginning with birth. Katherine Ratcliff will cover the importance of water safety through drowning & near-drowning instances and why being “wateraware” is a community effort for all.

Classroom 1: “Early Childhood Attachment and Trauma”

-Fred Cardenas, Family Service Association Participants will review and discuss the following: 1) Trauma from an early childhood perspective. 2) Developmental needs of young children who are impacted by trauma. 3) The effects - What does trauma look like in young children? 4) An overview of several evidence-based practices that address trauma of young children. 5) Resources and information.

Classroom 2: “Parenting Teens & Pre-Teens: Tips to Maintain Your Sanity When They Have Lost Theirs” -Stephanie Jensen, Boys Town of Texas

Parenting is challenging under the best of circumstances; throw in social media, peer pressure, and raging hormones and you’ve gone from challenging to impossible. This session will explore the challenges facing parents of teens and pre-teens and offer insight into what is going on with kids mentally and physically at this age that contributes to their behaviors and provides skills and techniques to address these behaviors in a positive way.


All submitted presentations will be available online at voicessa.org

Workshop II - 2:35 - 4:00pm
Auditorium A: “Panel Discussion: Children’s Mental Health & Special Education Advocacy.”
Panel: Kathy Cunningham, Clarity; Kathryn Newell, Rio Grande Legal Aid & Rachel Moyer-Trimyer, Texas Early Childhood Intervention, moderated by Fred Cardenas, Family Service Association This presentation will address ways in which advocates, such as doctors, social workers and other professionals, can help improve outcomes for students with disabilities. These topics will include the initial referral process, educating the school about a student’s needs, and empowering parents to make informed decisions about their child.

Auditorium B: “Addressing Children’s Needs in the Aftermath of a Crisis”

-Dr. Marion Sokol, Children’s Bereavement Center of San Antonio, Bill Day, Valero & Andy McNeil, National Alliance for Grieving Children Too often today children are exposed to violence that is sudden and senseless. Sometimes it is an individual incident that affects family and friends. But often in recent years the trauma affects a community faced with bombings, shooting rampages, or a natural disaster. How do we best prepare for and deal with media in a crisis situation? How do communities help prepare and support the mental health of children in the aftermath of a crisis? This session is both to provide information and generate a Call to Action.

Auditorium C: “Children’s Mental Health Policy”

-Katharine Ligon, Center for Public Policy Priorities This presentation will include a general update on the Affordable Care Act as well as important tips for individuals with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. Also, a brief overview of the recent Texas Legislative session related to children’s mental health policy.

Classroom 1: “Infant Mental Health: It’s Not Just About Therapy with Babies”

-Dr. Ken Graves, Texas Association for Infant Mental Health This presentation will describe and explore the concept of infant mental health and its influence on mental health throughout the lifespan. It will examine infant-parent relationships and attachment, as well as challenges in attachment. Discussion will focus on factors that promote healthy social and emotional development during infancy and early childhood.

Classroom 2: “Child Abuse and Neglect in Texas: Changing the Trajectory with Home Visiting & Prevention Investments” -Madeline McClure, TexProtects

Every day in Texas, hundreds of children are physically abused, sexually violated, emotionally battered, severely neglected, or even murdered by those caring for them. This workshop will provide an overview of the prevalence of child abuse and neglect in Texas and San Antonio as well as a discussion about the long-term human and financial costs of child maltreatment. Participants will learn about cost-effective and evidencebased prevention solutions, specifically home visiting programs currently serving San Antonio families. Attendees also will gain knowledge about efforts to expand home visiting services during the 83rd Legislative Session and how new legislation and funding will benefit providers and sites implementing the Early Comprehensive System of Care.

All submitted presentations will be available online at voicessa.org



Thank You to our Planning Committee Members:


Fred Cardenas, Family Service Association Janie Cook, Boys Town of Texas Kasi Cox, United Way of Bexar County Frances Guzman, Intercultural Development Research Association Melissa A. Tijerina, Children’s Behavioral Health Division, Center for Health Care Services

Dawn White, Christian Assistance Ministries,Chair Kathleen A. Fletcher, PhD, MPH, President/CEO Sonia Poyo Montero, Haven for Hope, Vice-Chair D. Ad’m Dusenbury, MEd, Communications Francisco Martinez, Valero, Treasurer Coordinator George Block, San Antonio Sports, Past-Chair Kristine Brown, Intern/Operations Assistant Ruth Bujanda-Moore, PsyD, Clinical Psychology Chris Cox, Intern/External Affairs Liaison Jeannie Frazier, Texas Biomedical Research Institute Caitlin Stultz, Volunteer Intern Pat Frost, Frost Bank Steven Zumaran, Volunteer Intern Sue Hancock, Independent Consultant with Early Childhood Education Gregory Hudspeth, PhD, St. Philip’s College Sanford “Sandy” Scott, Nationwide Insurance Eric D. Wilson, Wilson & Brown PLLC Melissa “Misi” Woolard, Pollock Printing Fred Cardenas, Family Service Association, Ex-Officio



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