Our goal is to provide tools for you to add to your foster care tool belt so you can feel confident and prepared to love on kids from hard places.


The Transition into Foster Care: Children’s Experiences of Ambiguity, Loss, and Trauma

“My parents didn’t die, but it felt like that.” When children are separated from their families, they search for belonging while being challenged by the new contexts and people surrounding them. In this dynamic session, Dr. Monique B. Mitchell reveals the questions children have as they cope with ambiguity and loss in foster care: Why? What? Where? Who? How? When? Drawing from the voices of the children themselves, Dr. Mitchell identifies a new model of C.A.R.E. which provides a blueprint for building a relational home for children in foster care. By joining children on their journey, care providers epitomize a brighter future and, with children by their sides, become empowered catalysts of healing.

Monique B. Mitchell, PhD, FT is passionate about illuminating and enhancing the lived experience of children and youth in foster care. For six years, Dr. Mitchell served as the South Carolina state director for the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) data collection for youth transitioning out of foster care. Her research focuses on life transitions, meaning-making, grief and loss, ambiguity, and youth empowerment. Dr. Mitchell’s specific expertise involves consulting with children, youth, and invested parties in the child welfare system to inform policy and practice and to develop resources and curricula that serve youth in foster care. Her recent publications include, The Neglected Transition: Building a Relational Home for Children Entering Foster Care, from Oxford University Press (2016), and Living in an Inspired World: Voices and Visions of Youth in Foster Care, from the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) Press (2017).

DATE: November 11, 2017
LOCATION: First Baptist Church Simpsonville, SC
ADDRESS: 3 Hedge Street, Simpsonville, SC 29681
TIME: 8:30am-4pm
TICKET COST: $30 (includes small breakfast, snacks and drinks throughout the day, lunch, childcare, and childcare lunch)

Conference Speakers

  • How Different Is It: Parenting Biological Children vs. Children from Hard Places
    Even the most seasoned parents will find themselves needing new tools and strategies when seeking to meet the needs of children who have experienced trauma. Join us to learn about how different your parenting journey may be, tips for success, and some common mistakes you can avoid.  Additionally, we will focus  on tips for team parenting, so you can start well together.

    Kelli Wild, LCSW,  is a clinical social worker who has served children and families for over 25 years. Much of Kelli’s career has been spent serving children with histories of trauma and the families that care for them. Kelli  is a TBRI practitioner and specializes in attachment focused, trauma informed therapy. As an adoptive parent and mother of 4, Kelli states that it is her personal experience loving a child who came from a hard place that has most profoundly impacted her desire to support other families who are seeking to offer hope and healing to a child in their care.

  • Who’s in Charge? Promoting Personal Power and Preventing Power Struggles
    Parents can create an environment where children learn to use their personal power in a positive way.  In this workshop you will learn about techniques for reducing power struggles and positive parenting strategies to help your child learn healthy person power.   

    Katie Brophy has over 25 years of experience working at the Department of Social Services (DSS).  During her employment at DSS, Katie spent 7 years as a clinical consultant working with emotionally and behaviorally challenged children who suffered extensive trauma from abuse and neglect. After retiring from Social Services, Katie worked for 2 years in non-profit administration at the Palmetto Association for Children and Families advocating for positive change in the child welfare system through legislation and policy development. Katie also worked as a group counselor at the Spartanburg Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission where she facilitated groups for adults with substance use disorders. Katie has a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from West Chester University and a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of South Carolina. She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Practice Social Worker and is certified in addictions.  Katie is married to her husband of 31 years, Gerry Brophy, and they have a son Michael and a daughter-in-law, Sarah.        

  • CPR & First Aid
    The Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED course incorporates the latest science and teaches students to recognize and care for a variety of first aid emergencies such as burns, cuts, scrapes, sudden illnesses, head, neck, back injuries, heat and cold emergencies and how to respond to breathing and cardiac emergencies to help victims of any age – adults (about 12 years and older) and pediatric (infants and children up to 12 years of age).

    Jonathon Sampson worked as a paramedic before coming to Thornwell three years ago. As Jonathon puts it, his career working on an ambulance gave him “the chance to help people and be the hands and feet of Jesus in their time of need.” At the time, Jonathon and his wife, Heidi, lived in western New York, where Jonathon was born and raised. Jonathon put his paramedic career in his rearview mirror and moved to work as a family teacher with Heidi at Thornwell. They brought their golden retriever, Phoebe, with them. In three years, the two were blessed to care for 67 foster children. 

  • Parenting in the Digital Age: Navigating Social Media
    The number of social networking apps and websites can seem endless!  The Digital Age has created a new virtual “reality” that can be especially hard for parents to navigate and monitor.  This workshop will explore popular platforms you need to know about, and strategies for teaching kids and teens how to use them safely and responsibly.

    Ashley Williams is a native of Newberry, SC. She graduated from Newberry College with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. She is currently enrolled at South University in a Master’s program for Clinical Mental Health, pursuing a professional license for the State of South Carolina. Her professional background includes working with children in foster care, and serving families in the community. Prior to joining Thornwell, Ashley held positions working with families through DSS and Head Start. Ashley still lives in Newberry with her husband, Markell, and her two children Aymi and Corbin. She enjoys spending time with family, and watching movies.

  • Bringing Protective Factors to Work in Your Life
    Developed by the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds, this approach helps child welfare systems, early education and other programs work with parents to build protective factors in their work. The protective factors are conditions in families and communities that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families.

    What are Protective Factors?

    Protective Factors serve as buffers, helping parents who might otherwise be at risk of abusing their children find resources, supports and coping strategies so that they can parent more effectively, even under stress. Training Information

    After Completing this training, attendees should be able to:

    • List five protective factors that help keep families strong and prevent child abuse and neglect
    • Identify multiple strategies and concrete everyday actions that help families build those protective factors
    • Understand what it means to work with families in a strength-based way

    Amy Moseley works as a Prevention Training Specialist at Children’s Trust of South Carolina where she coordinates and supports key activities for evidenced-based training and technical assistance throughout the state addressing issues relative to the prevention of child abuse, neglect and unintentional injuries and coordinates the Safe Sleep Coalition activities for the state. She has a bachelor’s degree in Counseling and Bible from Southern Methodist College and a master’s degree in Counseling from Trevecca Nazerene University and has served children and families in South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Tennessee through direct service and program management in the fields of foster care, sexual assault, and disability. Most recently, Amy served as the Clinical Director at Hope Clinic for Women in Nashville coordinating programs in prevention, pregnancy and parenting, counseling, and medical care.

  • How Trauma Impacts the Brain and Behavior
    Children entering the child welfare system have experienced many different types of trauma. These experiences range from abuse and neglect, to witnessing domestic violence, traumatic loss of a loved one and exposure to chronic substance abuse. For some children it may be all of the above. Chronic and multiple exposures to trauma have an impact on children’s development, their ability to form attachments, learning, emotional regulation and ability to trust. Trauma can change their overall view of the world leaving them with feelings of being unsafe and just trying to survive. In this breakout session we will learn how you can create a sense of safety in your home, teach emotional regulation skills, provide healthy attachment rituals and provide a nurturing environment for children from hard places to heal.

    Sonya O’Neal holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Erskine College and a M.S.W. from the University of South Carolina. With over 30 years of experience working with children, adolescents, adults and families, her trauma experience includes working with families as a Crime Victim Counselor and as the Clinical Program Director for SAFE Homes Rape Crisis Coalition as well as providing therapy for the children’s advocacy centers in Spartanburg and Greenville, SC. Sonya has also provided school based therapy and family reunification work through Family Preservation. She is trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Child Centered Play Therapy, EMDR and IMAGO Therapy, and has provided individual and family therapy at Thornwell since 2007.


  • Understanding the Licensing Process
    Our recruiters and family specialists will work with you throughout a series of background checks, paperwork, training, and inspections to prepare your licensing packet to be reviewed by the state licensing board. The process can be completed in as little as 90 days and then you’ll be ready to welcome a child into your home! In this session, we will walk you through what this looks like!

    Katie Hannon is a graduate of College of Charleston’s class of 2011. She has spent time serving an orphanage in rural China and learning the impact of trauma on a child’s development. She has worked with Nightlight Christian Services, DSS, and now is enjoying her time working for Thornwell. Katie became a foster parent as a single woman and has continued fostering children with her husband after they got married. In total, Katie has cared for seven children in her home and countless children overseas.

  • Grief, Loss and Love
     All children who are fostered and/or adopted will experience loss. And with loss comes grief. Grief can show up in many forms and at many times/stage, even before a child can talk. Come and listen as a current foster/adoptive mom recalls and explains what loss and grief can look like in the bodies and actions of very small children as well as the effects on the family. See how unconditional love proves itself real.

    Gail Cunningham, a childcare center director/teacher has been working with children for over 20 years and has been a mom for just as long. Her passion for fostering came to life 8 years ago when her husband and herself began caring for children from hard places. They have walked the Adoption Journey and give God all the glory!