SPEAKERS

John Canavan is Personal Professor in Political Science and Sociology, and Associate Director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, at National University of Ireland, Galway. He is the co-author / co-editor of three books on Family Support and has published numerous journal articles and book chapters. Additionally, he is the author / co-author of more than 90 reports in the field of children’s policy and practice.  His main research interests are Family Support, Evaluation Research Theory and Methodology, Evidence Informed Practice, and the Sociology of the Family.  Between 2014 and 2018, John led a major study on the development and implementation of Prevention and Family Support within Ireland’s Child Protection and Welfare Agency, Tusla. John teaches at Under-graduate and Post-graduate level at NUI Galway; he is a member of the M.A. in Family Support programme team since its inception in 2003 and he co-directs the Structured Ph.D. in Child and Youth Research. John is currently Vice-chairperson of the COST Action 18123, a Europe-wide network focused on the development of Family Support theory, policy and practice. In 2019, John received the NUI Galway President’s Award for Research Excellence (Established Researcher).

Penelope Welbourne is Associate Professor of Social Work at Plymouth University. She is a qualified social worker, with experience of working in child welfare and child protection services. Since 2000, she has been an academic at the University of Plymouth. Her research and writing reflects a primary interest in child and family services, especially when there is ‘statutory’ intervention. A particular interest is the way the legal system manages the balance between child and parent rights, with a focus on child welfare and children’s participation rights. She is a founding member of the new UK branch of the Association for Therapeutic Justice. She has trained the English Family Court judiciary on the importance of hearing children’s wishes and feelings, and has a strong commitment to valuing children’s views in accordance with the UNCRC. Current interests include compulsory child removal cases where parents have capacity issues, such as a learning disability, and management of rights issues within those proceedings, and evaluation of an initiative aimed at strengthening parental ability to retain care of their children after having at least two children removed from their care. Her recent books include Child Protection and Child Welfare: A Global Appraisal of Cultures, Policy and Practice (Eds Penelope Welbourne and John Dixon, Jessica Kingsley Publishers) and Social Work with Children and Families: Developing Advanced Practice (Penelope Welbourne, Routledge).

Sigrid James, PhD, MSW is professor in the Department of Social Work and Social Welfare at the University of Kassel in Germany. James began her social work career as a clinical social worker in the U.S. in the late 1980s, working with children and youth at risk of placement into residential care. In the 1990s, she was recruited into academia and completed her PhD in Social Work at the University of Southern California (in 2003). Until 2016 James held a tenured professorship at Loma Linda University in California where she taught for twelve years and continues to hold an adjunct faculty position. She completed a Fellowship in Dissemination and Implementation Research at Washington University, Missouri, USA, held two guest professorships in Germany and was the Editor-in-Chief for the peer-reviewed journal Residential Treatment for Children and Youth from 2015 to 2018. She is also a member of the International Work Group on Therapeutic Residential Care.

Since returning to the country of her birth, James has forged inter-European collaborations and has regular teaching engagements at the German-Jordanian University in Amman, Jordan. James has received multiple federal and regional grants in the U.S. as well as Europe and Germany and has conducted research on foster care, residential and psychiatric care and refugee labor market integration. James is part of the Editorial Board of several peer-reviewed journals and has written and published numerous articles and chapters in English and more recently in German.

The core of James’ work has centered on the development and delivery of effective and sustainable services and interventions for children, youth and their families involved with the child welfare system, in particular youth in residential care. Her international experiences have shaped her perspective on the role of residential care in the continuum of services for children and youth.

Bryan Samuels is the Executive Director of Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, a nonprofit research institute focused on improving the well-being of vulnerable children and youth, families, and their communities. His work centers around the creation of a well-being framework based on the best scientific developmental understanding of normal childhood development; understanding the effects of exposure to violence, trauma, poverty, and averse childhood experiences on the mental, emotional, behavioral, and physical health of children; integrating empirical evidence into public policy and service delivery; and building the capacity of public and private child- and family-serving systems and organizations to produce positive outcomes for the most vulnerable children. He received his B.A. in Economics from the University of Notre Dame in 1989, and his M.P.P. from the University of Chicago-Harris School in 1993.

Samuels was appointed by President Obama as the Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF), where he served from 2009 to 2013, and leveraged the work of federal departments including Health and Human Services, Justice, and Education, among others, on behalf of vulnerable child and youth populations, especially foster children, homeless youth, children and families impacted by domestic violence, and children exposed to trauma and violence.

Samuels has served as the Chief of Staff at Chicago Public Schools, and the Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Prior to that, he worked as a Program Manager at Chicago Metropolis 2020, a Management Consultant to the Missouri Department of Social Services, and the Deputy Director of the Nebraska Department of Social Services. He has also worked as an independent management consultant, as the Director of Community Planning and Organizing for the Family Resource Coalition, and as the Assistant to the Governor for Human Services for the Governor of Illinois. Samuels was also a lecturer at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.