Katherine Lozano, Director of BSA Parents’ Academy and staff member Stephanie Lozano recently attended the annual Congress on Children sponsored by the organization Voices for Children. She shares her insights below.
Working with families who have been impacted by child abuse and neglect is a journey of insights, empathy and understanding. Many of the families we serve have a history of high stress experiences in their own childhoods and are struggling to provide a better future for their children. One of the best trainings our parent educators attend each year is the annual Congress on Children sponsored by Voices for Children. For the past three years, the Congress has been held at the Whitley Center of Oblate School of Theology. The one day congress highlights the statistics, resources and cutting edge research on the state of children in our state and our nation.
The keynote address was delivered by William Kellibrew IV, a childhood survivor of family violence. William was 10 years old when he witnessed his mother’s boyfriend take her life and the life of his brother. The man pointed the gun at William’s head next and made him beg for his life before letting him go. His trauma was further compounded when he witnessed another murder the following day. His story of survival and healing put a face on the trauma countless children experience. Hearing him recount the many ways his emotional and psychological needs were not met for many years showed the scars the losses left in William and his surviving siblings. He credited his grandmother and God for helping him recover and become the advocate for children he is today. He closed his presentation by singing an uplifting song while accompanied by a cello solo.
Other talks included an update from legislators reporting on status of child welfare bills in the past session and panels of other child abuse survivors who have overcome the odds and are succeeding as well as sharing their stories to help others. In spite of the heavy concepts that were the focus of the day, it was uplifting to share in this journey of helping children and their families heal. Every parent we help, every family we touch is part of breaking the cycle of abuse and violence. The needs in our community are many. We are blessed to be part of the solution.