LAWRENCE — Limited seats are available for the in-person Kansas Racial Equity Collaborative Symposium, the culmination of activities over the past year from the Kansas Racial Equity Collaborative.
The symposium will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 15 at the Burge Union, located on the University of Kansas Lawrence campus. The free event is open to the public, with remaining seats available on a first-come, first-serve basis. A light breakfast, buffet lunch and snacks will be provided. Email Christina Mott at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Participants at the symposium will have the opportunity to network with others who are directly and indirectly involved in the child welfare system and spend the day discussing specific and concrete ways to advance racial equity in child welfare from their respective roles.
Featured speakers include Aysha Schomburg, associate commissioner for the Children’s Bureau in the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Jessica Pryce, assistant professor at Florida State University and executive director of the Florida Institute for Child Welfare. The symposium will also feature muralist and local Kansas City artist Lucky Easterwood as he paints a live mural during the symposium to capture the hope that the collaborative carries in pursuit of racial equity in child welfare.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families, CarePortal and the KU School of Social Welfare established the Kansas Racial Equity Collaborative in fall 2021. Envisioned as a statewide journey of learning, the collaborative hosted four virtual lectures that brought together the child welfare workforce and mandated reporters across human service sectors to build shared, multidisciplinary knowledge and accountability in achieving equitable outcomes for children and families of color who come into contact with the child welfare system. Those lectures included “Understanding the Historical Context of Structural Racism and Current Day Implications: How We Got Here and a Better Path Forward,” “Addressing Racial Inequities in Child Welfare: View from Early Childhood Education,” “Debunking Myths Around Racial Inequities in Child Welfare” and “Forward Movement: Shifting from Control of to Support for Black and Brown Families.” Past lectures can be watched on the Care Portal webpage.
The eight-person leadership team that developed the Kansas Racial Equity Collaborative included Shanelle Dupree, Kansas Department for Children and Families regional director; Brandi Turner, Kansas Department for Children and Families Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer; Abby Fry, CarePortal regional manager; Ashley Smith, CarePortal Child and Family Advocate; Kelechi Wright, KU doctoral student in social welfare; Pegah Naemi Jimenez, associate researcher of social welfare; Becci Akin, associate professor and doctoral program director of social welfare; and Sarah McCall, School of Social Welfare project manager for Kansas Strong for Children and Families. The team's aim is continue this learning journey as a collective and move toward making child welfare a more equitable system.