Webinar: Understanding Social Media Tools and Traps: Empowering Families to Navigate the Virtual World


Webinar: Understanding Social Media Tools and Traps: Empowering Families to Navigate the Virtual World

Panelist Biographies:

Luana Marques, PhD

Mental Health 

Dr. Marques is the director and founder of Community Psychiatry PRIDE at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Associate Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Marques is the president of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The topics she will address include:

  • Psychological effects of social media on youth and adults
  • Correlation between social media platform usage and anxiety and depression
  • Social media users at a higher risk for negative outcomes (children/youth/parents with history of trauma, abuse, neglect and out of home care)
  • Early signs of negative effects of social media usage
  • Strategies parents can use to mitigate risks and manage negative effects.

Robert Jamerson

Civic Engagement

Mr. Jamerson is Detroit PAL’s CEO and a former PAL participant, coach and consultant. Mr. Jamerson has devoted more than 20 years working for corporations, such as Pfizer, Inc., before joining the nonprofit sector. He has held a variety of leadership positions in marketing operations, sales and training. Among the topics he will address are:

  • Impact of social media on community engagement
  • Impact of social media on perpetuating harm and discrimination against marginalized communities
  • Social media and equity
  • Social polarization, division, and isolation
  • Early signs of negative effects of social media usage
  • Strategies community leaders can use to mitigate risks and manage negative effects.

April Dinwoodie

Ethical Concerns

Ms. Dinwoodie is a communications and cause-related marketing and social media professional who is passionate about how people experience and interact with brands. Ms. Dinwoodie is a national leader in transracial adoption and a national consultant focused on adoption, foster care, family, identity and navigating differences of race, class and culture. Among the topics she will address are:

  • Human data as one of the most valuable resources in today’s world
  • Social media as a vehicle for both community building as well as for exploitation and risks for children and youth with history of abuse, neglect and parental separation
  • Issues of privacy, confidentiality, conflict of interest, manipulation and professional boundaries;
  • Content that promotes deception, misrepresentation, divisiveness, discrimination
  • Social media influencers and how they shape behaviors, beliefs and interactions
  • Early signs of negative effects of social media usage
  • Strategies parents can use to mitigate risks and manage negative effects.

Craig Fahle


Craig Fahle is the host of the daily “Craig Fahle Show on Deadline Detroit.”  Previously, he spent four years as Director of Public Affairs for the Detroit Land Bank Authority, where he was responsible for marketing and communications, media relations, and customer service. Prior to joining the DLBA, Craig spent more than twenty years as a public radio journalist.

He has worked at NPR affiliate WDET-FM in Detroit, NPR affiliate WFAE in Charlotte, NC, and at the Michigan Public Radio network in Lansing, Michigan. In his time at WDET, he was a reporter, news anchor, editor, talk show host, and finally General Manager for programming. He was assistant news director at WFAE, and was the State capitol correspondent for the statewide Michigan Public Radio network.

Craig has won numerous awards for both his reporting and his daily public affairs program, “The Craig Fahle Show”, which aired for seven years on WDET. Craig’s career has been spent interviewing newsmakers, including artists, musicians, authors, politicians and public officials; which included interviews with six Detroit Mayors, and six Michigan governors. Over the course of his talk show, Craig conducted more than ten thousand interviews.


Melinda Lis honored with 2020 National Adoption Excellence Award

Melinda Lis, Vice President of The Academy for Family Support and Preservation at Spaulding, Honored with 2020 National Adoption Excellence Award from The Children’s Bureau

Click here for Official Press Release

Melinda Lis with award

SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Nov. 19, 2020 – The Children’s Bureau at HHS Administration for Children and Families has awarded its 2020 National Adoption Excellence Award to Melinda Lis, Spaulding for Children Vice President of The Academy for Family Support and Preservation. Ms. Lis received the honor Tuesday, Nov. 17 at the 2020 National Adoption Month Celebration.

The 2020 Adoption Excellence Award was made in recognition of Ms. Lis’ professional work to increase the number of children from foster care who are adopted or placed in other permanent homes.

Part of the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children & Families (ACF), the Children’s Bureau (CB) works with federal, state, tribal and local agencies to improve the overall health and well-being of our nation’s children and families.

“Melinda Lis has motivated and inspired the child welfare community and people around her to accomplish more than they would have normally,” Cristina Peixoto, President/CEO of Spaulding for Children, said. “With the right mix of positivity, the amazing ability to tap into other’s strengths and thinking outside of the box, Melinda has successfully contributed to inform and transform the views and understanding about the role played by child welfare systems and communities in supporting post permanency family.”

The adoption excellence awards given each year by the Children’s Bureau to recognize individuals and families who, and organizations that, have demonstrated excellence in making contributions to providing permanency for children in foster care. Professional peers nominate individuals and organizations. Families also can make nominations.

“This is a great honor for me, but also is a great honor for our staff,” Ms. Lis said. “We have dedicated our lives to working in child welfare. Today there are approximately 122,000 children awaiting adoption – about 3,000 of whom are in Michigan. So, we have more work to do and many more people to help.”

Melinda Lis started her career with Spaulding in July 2013 as the Vice President of the Spaulding Academy for Family Support and Preservation, where she continues to play leadership roles on three federal projects through the Children’s Bureau.

Normally held before an in-person audience in Washington, D.C., this year’s National Adoption Month Celebration was webcast live on Tuesday, Nov. 17. This year’s National Adoption Month theme, “Engage Youth: Listen and Learn,” highlights the importance of listening to young people and learning from them ways to support their path to permanency.

The ceremony featured HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar II, Lynn Johnson, Assistant Secretary for ACF, Elizabeth Darling, Commissioner, ACF/Children’s Bureau, Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau at ACF and June Dorn, National Adoption Specialist, ACF/Children’s Bureau.

The awardees include families who have adopted children from foster care; child welfare professionals working to improve permanency outcomes for children; and individuals and organizations who use their resources and connections to strengthen outcomes for children and youth adopted from foster care.

Members of the Spaulding for Children team have been recognized by The Children’s Bureau at Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families a number of times. Recipients include:

  • Addie Williams, then President/CEO of Spaulding, was recognized in 2016 for professional leadership and pioneering work with special needs adoption.
  • Natalie Lyons and the National Resource Center for Adoption were recognized in 2012 for professional leadership and honored with the Centennial Adoption Excellence Awards.
  • Paul VanderVelde, who served as a member of Spaulding’s National Resource Center for Special Needs Adoption, was honored in 2006 for devoting his professional life to improving the lives of vulnerable children and families, in particular abuse and neglected children in the foster care system.
  • Drenda Lakin, then Vice President at Spaulding for Children, was honored in 2004 for her leadership in special needs adoption and contributions to the profession of child welfare.

About Spaulding for Children

Spaulding for Children is a national leader in developing and providing resources and training for foster and adoptive families and those who serve and support them. Started in 1968 with the belief that every child is adoptable, Spaulding brought attention to foster children with special needs. Today Spaulding provides research-based training and education for those interested in becoming adoptive and foster parents in addition to service contracts and partnership projects funded through the Michigan DHHS and the Children’s Bureau and parenting and preventive support program for young women who are pregnant or young mothers between the ages of 13-24 children with risk factors for child abuse and neglect. Spaulding for Children prevention program includes assistance, coaching and mentoring for the most vulnerable parents and have achieved a significant success rate in keeping families intact.

“Transracial Adoption and the Black Lives Matter Movement” – Webinar

On August 26, 2020 Spaulding for Children presented a webinar:

Transracial Adoption and the Black Lives Matter Movement Webinar

Watch the video as our facilitated panel of three Black transracial adoptees shared their experiences and real-talk about how the increased momentum surrounding Black Lives Matters impacts Black and Brown adoptees raised in White families in America.

The panel highlighted information that professionals working in the child welfare field as well as adoptive parents need to understand related to the intersectionality of adoption and race and its life-long impact.

Meet Our Panelist

Ways to Keep Kids Engaged this Summer

Michigan Science Center brings wonders of the universe and live experiments directly into your living room. Log on to MiSci’s ECHO Distance Learning Studio, Mondays through Fridays at 2:30 p.m.

While public libraries have been approved to re-open in Michigan. several public libraries are open online. And many have made their extensive collections of ebooks and movies available for download. Some also have special online programming and book groups for kids — and grown-ups, too.

Southfield Public Library website is open with e-books, audio books, movies, music, children’s resources and many research sources at www.southfieldlibrary.org. SPL plans to reopen in phases. One of the first phases will be with phone service and material pickup at the drive-through window. They will post information when this service is ready on their website and social media pages.

Please check the websites and continue to utilize online resources of our state’s outstanding libraries. Among them are the Detroit Public Library and the Clinton-Macomb Public Library.

Get outdoors. Huron-Clinton Metro Parks are open throughout Southeast Michigan, as are Michigan State Parks, including Belle Isle. Hike, bike, explore and more.

Yoga with Maya. Mondays through Sundays at 5 p.m. Click here for directions for 30-minute, password-protected Zoom sessions.

Animal Lessons from Detroit Zoo.  Discover amazing animals and learn online.

Coloring Through the City. A fun way to explore Detroit is the downloadable Detroit Parks Coloring Book brought to you by Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. The book is made possible by the teams at Eastern Market, the Belle Isle Conservancy, Downtown Detroit Partnership, and the City of Detroit.

Katherine Ward: An Amazing Smile May Be Why Storyteller Seems So Familiar

You may have seen Katherine “Katie” Ward on Spaulding’s Facebook page. Every Monday evening, she reads books out loud as the star of “Storytime with Miss Katie.”

The time is special for children and adults who enjoy hearing a good story. Click here to catch the program Mondays at 7 p.m.

Katie Ward soon will celebrate nearly 10 years as a professional serving in foster care and adoption. She has served more than three years with Spaulding for Children.

While in college Katie was headed to a criminal justice degree when she took a class in juvenile justice that changed the course of her life.

“I could not believe what these kids had gone through,” Katie said. “And I knew I needed to help.”

Katie cites her own great childhood for her love of kids. She adds it may be difficult for people to understand that many children today do not receive the unconditional support that they did growing up.

Katie is one of 7 children. And, today, she is raising two children. She also has a large extended family.

“I know that everyone just wants to be seen, heard and supported,” Katie said.

At Spaulding Katie works as an adoption specialist. It is her job to find adoptive families for youth in foster care whose parental rights have been terminated.

To locate a family, Katie works her network of agencies and contacts foster families and other relatives of the child. She works with MARE, the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange, where she develops an online profile of the child and then attends recruitment events.

Currently, Katie is most excited to report that she has identified a family for a youth who has been in foster care longer than anyone in the state. The young person is approaching his 17th birthday and has several developmental challenges.

While in the residential placement he received several support therapies from occupational to counseling which have been invaluable. Not all residential centers have such extensive services.

“When a couple adopts an older child, they miss the teething and learning to ride a bike phase, but they get to be instrumental in helping someone become an adult,” Katie said. “These parents can teach things like learning to drive, applying for a job, how to present themselves in an interview, order and tip in a restaurant, laundry, cooking – all the skills he/she will need to be independent. And, of course, how to find and cultivate their passion.”

While Katie is awaiting finalization of this adoption, she states that the hardest part of her work is telling a child that a family they have been visiting with does not in fact want to move forward with the auditorium.

Adoption workers like Katie spend months with a prospective family before introducing the child. She teaches them that children in foster care, despite the challenges they have faced that led them to be in care, have had training that will be beneficial to them – and their next family.

Families are taught coping and mindfulness skills. Finally, families looking into adoption receive additional support from Spaulding, both before and after the adoption. There are also support groups for adoptive families to help them on their journey.

“I would love to think about a day when my services would not be needed,” Katie said. “But until that day, I’ll be here.”

Enjoy being with Katie online at Storytime with Miss Katie each Monday at 7 p.m., live on Spaulding’s Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/spauldingforchildren

Family Preservation Principles

The National Family Preservation Network has outlined principles of Intensive Family Preservation Services. These services are designed to support families in which children are either at imminent risk of placement or have been placed outside their homes.

Principles in Working with Families

  • The family is the best resource for the nurture, care, and well-being of children.
  • The most durable way to help children is to help their parents.
  • Keeping families safely together, whenever possible, must be the highest priority of government laws, policies, and funding.
  • Because the integrity of the family is critical to its functioning, services to families must primarily focus on keeping families together or reunifying families when out-of-home placement is necessary.
  • Families must be assessed for strengths as well as weaknesses.  Strengths can be used to help address weaknesses.
  • Families must be involved in decisions about every aspect of an intervention: safety, assessment, goals, services, progress, placement (if necessary), and outcomes.
  • Families must be empowered through services, not kept dependent on them. Services should be provided only until the family is stabilized and has the necessary skills to remain safely together. Families can then choose whether or not they want additional services.
  • We owe families the best possible services at the lowest cost to whoever is paying for the services.  All services must be evaluated for their effectiveness and cost-benefit.

Click here for more information from the National Family Preservation Network.



June Is Reunification Month

When a catastrophe happens, when a child is forced to be removed from his or her home, the State turns to agencies like Spaulding to temporarily take care of the safety and well-being of that child. From the moment a child walks in to our care, our main goal is to reunify the child and his family. When the child is returned with his or her family, this process is called reunification.

Spaulding’s goal is to reunite children with their families. Foster care serves as a temporary placement for a child while the parent(s) addresses the issues that led to the child’s out of home care. When a child is removed from the home, Spaulding communicates to parents their rights while the child is in foster care and they also communicate with foster (resource) families about their role, responsibilities and rights.

When the birth family works closely with the foster family and the Agency, the child can feel more secure. And while they may not completely understand, children can sense when the grown-ups are working on their behalf to transition back to their birth family home.

Spaulding for Children supports the family, both birth families and foster (resource) families, to rectify any issues that have caused a child to be removed from the birth home. We also serve as a bridge between birth and foster families, helping the families develop a supportive relationship on behalf of the child.

Despite the challenges presented with virtual court hearings during COVID, Spaulding worked with another agency to reunite a mother with her two children. The process of family reunification is strengthened by community involvement. Child welfare and social service professionals encourage all members of a community, even those who are not foster parents, should learn about the needs of families with children in foster care and how one can help support the family’s reunification efforts.

When a child is successfully reunited with his or her family, everyone sees the child welfare system at its finest!

Melissa S. Jenovai, LMSW, Vice President of Child and Family Services, Spaulding for Children, served as a resource for this article.

Click here to learn more about Family Reunification.



Love Continues After Reunification

Her kids call Ms. Allen, “Aunty Mary.” She has adopted four and fostered more than 30 children through the years, including two teen girls who were reunited with their father.

Ms. Allen works side by side with birth parents – but always on the kids’ side – doing what is in their best interest. Yet, even after reunification, the connection with Aunty Mary does not stop.

“I’m here for all my kids,” Ms. Allen said. “They are always in my life.”

Aunty Mary provided foster care and then helped reunify two teenage girls with their single father. She helped the girls understand the complicated family dynamics.  After the girls were reunified with their dad, Ms. Allen permitted the girls to stay with her during the week to attend their school.  Her support to this family after the reunification helped to sustain the family unit.

At Aunty Mary’s home, the kids get lots of love – and are taught responsibilities, including chores. Upon completing their chores, they receive an allowance.  The child’s most important responsibility in her home is school.

“Education is Priority #1,” Ms. Allen said. “Homework is not optional.”  Ms. Allen goes to her kids’ schools and talks to each of their teachers. Teachers very much appreciate her active presence. Her kids also appreciate her involvement.

Knowledge is key, Ms. Allen said. What children learn in school is what they need to move forward in life. What children need to learn in the home, she adds, is they are loved – just for being who they are.

Even though the girls have been reunified with their family, they continue to feel the love Aunty Mary gives to them.  Today the girls often call her and ask if they can come by for a sleep-over. They continue to receive gifts on their birthdays and they are in contact by phone frequently.