The title of the conference was “Aren’t we all in this together?” to acknowledge the feeling that community and cooperation seem to be at a low ebb today and to trumpet a call to arms to do something about it, to broaden what community means, to act! Even virtually, we can come together. And we did!
The 2022 AFCC California Conference was slated to be in person until it became clear that COVID was not going to let that happen. With gusto, the conference committee with the critical assistance of Merry Gladchun threw itself into making it a successful virtual conference. Instead of trying to replicate a 3-day conference virtually, we instead scheduled it over three consecutive weekends. Ultimately, more attendees were able to participate in individual workshops which would have otherwise been limited to the size of the room.
The 2022 conference was a success on many levels. We brought new speakers into the mix. We established new connections including with UCSF and Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic (CROC). We broadened the topics typically heard at the AFCC-CA conference. Topics included the role of Child Protective Services, dependency courts, the role of Family Court Services, reforms in Israel, substance abuse, using creative approaches and early intervention, and the potential for lethality in family law.
This was also the first conference where the issue of diversity, equity and inclusion was made express. Most presenters took the direction to heart, using their time to discuss, at least in part, families that haven’t been front and center at prior conferences: those of disadvantaged backgrounds and marginalized communities. On the presentation evaluations, we included two questions seeking member input on the diversity both of the topic and the presenters. We hope to develop these questions as we work towards greater diversity, equity and inclusion. We still have a long way to go but 2022’s conference made strides in the right direction.
The expectation is that we’ll return to in-person conferences in the future. But 2022’s conference showed what we can accomplish in short order when we put our collective heart and soul into it. We are indeed all in this together.
2022 AFCC CA Conference Co-chairs,
David Blacker, JD, CFLS
Frank Davis, Ph.D.
Hon. Louise Bayles-Fightmaster, Ret.