Jennifer Davidson

Jennifer Davidson is Director of the University of Strathclyde's Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children(www.CELCIS.org), a research and policy implementation centre promoting better quality public care experiences for all children at risk/ in need of alternative care. At the heart of her work is the relationship between children's rights discourse and children's lived experiences, and the mechanisms to achieve sustainable change from international rights to national practice in children's services. Jennifer's experience spans Canada, the United States and the UK, where she has held leadership positions and served on national and international committees related to children's services.


UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children: Closing the Implementation Gap

The international Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children were welcomed unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009.  This presentation offers a brief overview of the Guidelines' key principles of 'necessity' and 'suitability', and considers the complexities that arise in efforts toward their implementation at systems and practice levels. As is the case for any efforts of translation of policy into practice, there are numerous complexities to the successful implementation of these cross-cultural Guidelines, particularly given their universal nature. Drawing on the literature, supported by research that informed Moving Forward (the implementation handbook on the Guidelines) and illustrated by practice examples from across global regions, we will examine fundamental challenges in States' efforts to implement the Guidelines, namely: de-institutionalising the care system; developing family-based care; clarifying the important role of small scale residential child care in a range of care options; and supporting the suitability of the various care practitioner workforces.



Maria Herczog

Maria Herczog holds an MA in Economics from Karl Marx University of Economics, Budapest, a Ph.D. (Csc) in Sociology from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and she was habilitating at the University of Pecs, Hungary in 2011.

She has got over 35 years of experience in research in child protection, child welfare and teaching both in Hungary nd abroad. A former board member of IFSW, IFCO. She was a member of the UNCRC Committee (2007-2015) Former president of Eurochild (2010-2016) and chair of the Family, Child, Youth Association in Hungary since 2005. Maria has written several books, book chapters, articles on child welfare and child protection and has been involved in many research programs on these topics.

Working together on the implementation of children’s rights

The  Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) recognises that children have the best opportunities of developing their full potential in a family environment. Parents have the primary responsibility, but they are entitled to support from the state and the communities to raise their children. If parents are not able or willing to fulfil this responsibility, resources has to be provided to care for the children. The governments have to ensure that children are  placed in appropriate alternative care if needed in accordance with the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children.

Separation of children from their families, provision of high quality alternative care is a hugh challenge as in many countries even the basic elements of a comprehensive system are lacking, including a strategy, quality service provision, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, consideration of costs, benefits and social return.

The Moving Forward Handbook and the Tracking Tool encouraging the governments, NGOs, experts to measure the levels of implementation of the UN Guidelines, support implementing child rights in the context of alternative care. The Common European Framework on Transition from Institutional to Community based Care is an excellent instrument to support the measurement of success and challenges as well.

The Opening Doors campaign in 12 countries across Europe was calling on the EU and national governments putting the best interests of children at the heart of Europe’s child protection system together with the Recommendation of the EU Commission on Investing in Children, based on a child rights approach.



John Korsmo

Dr. John Korsmo is Professor of Human Services at Western Washington University, USA. John’s scholarship relates to family culture and human ecology, especially youth and family efforts to address cycles of poverty and marginalization. He has worked in numerous capacities in low-income neighborhoods throughout the US, including as: primary school teacher, high school coach, mentor, counselor, program director, and Executive Director, and remains involved in youth and family work. His passions include time with friends and family, travel & culture, and outdoor adventure.


Intersectionality, Poverty, and Determinants of Health: What’s a Social Pedagogue to Do?

We all know there are multiple factors influencing the health and wellbeing of children and youth (as well as our own). Positive family, school, and community engagement; safe and healthy sense of place; fun, adventure, and exploration; balanced health and nutrition; sense of belonging and significance in the world; the giving and receiving of love…and the list goes on.  We also know that all too often they (and we) are faced with adversities or challenges that threaten wellbeing. Here too multiple factors come into play: prejudice; neglect and abuse, poverty, negative bias and discrimination… and again, the list goes on. Each piece of the developmental puzzle when considered individually is important, as too are each specific challenge they may face. All too often we try to compartmentalize both strengths and concerns, even though we know everything is interconnected. We owe it to ourselves and to our children and youth to consider the totality of their experiences, and to better understand the power of intersectionality in their lives. Of particular note here is the belief that while poverty, class, and other socially constructed areas of identity are fundamentally important in our field, all too often we avoid discourse about them. On the contrary, we must engage in dialog related to these influential areas of our lives, which this keynote address will attempt to do. We will work towards deepening our resolve to understand and consider “the whole child,” and advance our discourse of what have historically been considered taboo topics, such as poverty and class, race, and sexuality, and the intersectionality of these marginalizing factors. After all, we are engaged here “together, towards a better world for children, adolescents, and families.”



Isabella Sarto-Jackson

Isabella Sarto-Jackson is the Executive Manager of the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, an interdisciplinary advanced study center. She is Associate Editor of the Biological Theory and the Secretary of the Austrian Neuroscience Association. She has worked at the Center for Brain Research of the Medical University of Vienna. She holds a MSc in Genetics, a PhD in Neurobiochemistry and the Venia Docendi in Neurobiology. She has authored papers in peer-reviewed journals, organized international meetings, and works on several interdisciplinary projects.


Neuroscience and Social Pedagogy: Chances and Limits of an Interdisciplinary Approach

Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, Klosterneuburg, Austria

The advancement of the neurosciences triggered euphoria of policy makers and raised high societal, educational and medical-therapeutical expectations. Enhanced public awareness for neuroscientific research started with the “Decade of the Brain” and was further propelled by the “Human Brain Project” funded by the European Union with more than €1 billion. The explicit objective is the intensification of neuroscientific research to gain a deeper understanding for cognitive functioning and malfunctioning. The “Human Brain Project“ aims to rebuild and simulate the human brain by means of neuroinformatics, neuroimaging data, computing, and neurorobotics. However, despite intensive research efforts, scientists are still far from understanding how the human brain works. Critics strongly object to such reductionist approaches, and doubt that a substituted neuroanatomical reconstruction will be able to provide a valid brain model that can mimic higher cognitive processes.

The rationale that underlies such reductionist approaches draws from a predominantly gene-centric view of human nature that assumes a blueprint instruction of the brain and largely disregards the importance of environmental factors. This is, however, in stark contrast to findings from human brain development that crucially relies on neuroplastic and epigenetic events during gestation, early childhood and adolescence. Moreover, there is increasing evidence for the significance of cultural inheritance in human brain development that goes far beyond pure genetic effects. Only broad interdisciplinary research will be able to elucidate the widespread cross-talk of various factors that contribute to the functioning of complex systems such as the human brain.



Zeni Thumbadoo

Zeni Thumbadoo has dedicated her working life to the children’s sector in South Africa – in direct service provision, contributing to children’s policy and legislation, advocacy and model development.  She has worked in a children’s home; as a consultant to the Department of Social Development; as a trainer in child and youth care work; and as a coordinator of a process of piloting of innovative projects linked to transformed policy in the building of children’s services in the democratic South Africa.  Since 1997 she has worked as the Deputy Director of the National Association of Child Care Workers. She has contributed to the professionalization of child and youth care work through: spearheading various advocacy campaigns linked to the statutory recognition of the child and youth care field; serving on the  Standards Generating Body for Child and Youth Care Work which developed national standards for the training of child and youth care workers; serving on the statutory regulatory body, the Professional Board for Child and Youth Care; and representing South African child and youth care work in various national and international forums.

Zeni is currently further championing the recognition of child and youth care work through the national scale up of the Isibindi model which aims to develop 10,000 child and youth care workers serving 1.4 million children in a five year period.

Zeni completed her Master’s degree in child and youth care work with distinction and is currently registered as a doctoral student. She serves as the Vice Chairperson on the Steering Committee of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance and also a member of the Board of Directors on CYC Net.  Zeni is also a honourary lecturer at the Durban University of Technology in South Africa.

Courage and Ubuntu: Reclaiming Communities through Isibindi

 Isibindi is an IsiZulu word meaning Courage. It captures the spirit of the Isibindi Model that creates ‘circles of care’ around vulnerable children in vulnerable communities in South Africa, giving them the courage to cope and hope in dispirited circumstances. As in many other situations on the globe, frontline workers bear the brunt of the overwhelming suffering of the children and families that they serve. In the Isibindi model child and youth care workers experience their own simultaneously faltering and steadfast courage. Their work requires not only courage, but a deeper sense of connectedness and relatedness – the African spirit of Ubuntu.   
Archbishop Desmond Tutu says that “we are set in a delicate network of interdependence with our fellow human beings and the rest of creation. In Africa the recognition of our interdependence is called Ubuntu. It is the essence of being human. I am human because I belong to the whole, to the community, to the tribe, to the nation, to the earth. Ubuntu is about wholeness, about compassion for life”.

 In the Isibindi Model, South African child and youth care workers have demonstrated the reclaiming of the African philosophy of Ubuntu inspiring their child and youth care practice. In this process they reclaim lost or dispirited parts of themselves, healing as they service children, youth and families in rural communities and poverty pockets in South Africa.

 The lessons learned from Isibindi have relevance to global challenges facing children and families. The model has reclaimed indigenous approaches to service provision that draws in the innate capacities and cultural wisdom of diverse populations in the roles of caring and healing. These lessons speak to the glimmerings of a new way of acknowledging woundedness, and experiencing personal healing as one provides services to others. The richness that lies in the opportunity to transcend one’s own past pains in the process of servicing vulnerable children and youth and connecting community and family members to one another may be a gift that Africa can shares with the global child and youth care community.

 This keynote presentation will describe how the philosophy of Ubuntu infused in modern child and youth care work is bringing about a uniquely African approach to servicing children in the context of their families and in their communities – which may be universally applicable..  



Kiaras Gharabaghi

Dr. Kiaras Gharabaghi, PhD is Director and Associate Professor in the School of Child & Youth Care at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.  He is co-Editor of Child & Youth Services, an international peer reviewed journal about children and youth services around the world.  Following over 20 years in practice, Dr. Gharabaghi has been doing research in the areas of residential care (in Canada and internationally), child & youth mental health, education and social pedagogy, policy and regulatory frameworks for youth services as well as system collaboration and organizational change. 
In recent years he has collaborated closely with colleagues in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. His recent books include Being with Edgy Youth, with Carol Stuart, Right Here, Right Now: Life-Space Intervention with Children and Youth, as well as Professional Issues in Child and Youth Care
Dr. Gharabaghi regularly provides consulting and training to various stakeholders in the youth justice, education, child & youth mental health and child welfare systems. He was one of three Experts on the 2015/2016 Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services Residential Services Review Panel.



Moving Nowhere in Particular:  An Optimistic View of Transitioning Out of Care

 Much of the literature related to young people transitioning out of care is problem-focused; researchers have correctly identified a wide range of challenges and obstacles to successfully managing emerging adulthood facing young people transitioning out of care.
These include issues and challenges at the individual level, such as social isolation, skill deficits, financial challenges and stress; at the systems level, such as affordable housing shortages, access to employment as well as education and other social institutions; and at the socio-cultural level, such as stigmatization, discrimination and social rejection. As a result, the narrative of transitioning out of care is predominantly a negative one, albeit one that seeks to influence policies and institutional dynamics that are more responsive to the needs of this group of youth.
In this keynote, Dr. Gharabaghi argues that this bleak view of transitioning out of care stands in opposition to a strength-based, agency-permitting and socially more dynamic view of young people in care.
Deficit and problem-focused narratives result in never-ending and often very marginal policy amendments and changes in institutional practices; what young people really want is a mitigation of the abruptness of transition in general, and a much more networked approach to their everyday care experience that can fundamentally alter the ‘out-of-care and into-nothing’ construction of transitions. Instead, we can formulate a transition to ‘nowhere in particular’, supported by sustainable networks of relationships that ensure continuity in care, support, and logistics.



James P. Anglin PhD

Professor Anglin began his career as a child and youth care worker in a mental health centre in Vancouver after which he developed a 6-bed group home for adolescents in Victoria. He then pursued graduate studies, worked in social policy in Ottawa and with the Children’s Services Division, Government of Ontario, in Toronto. Returning to B.C. in 1979, he joined the faculty of the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria where he is a full Professor and former Director.

His major research interests have focused on a re-appreciation of residential care for children and youth (e.g. Pain, Normality and the Struggle for Congruence: Reinterpreting Residential Care for Children and Youth, Routledge, 2002). Currently, he is involved in researching and documenting the implementation and impact of a principle-based approach to residential care with colleagues from the Bronfenbrenner Centre for Translational Research at Cornell University.


He has published in North American and international journals and child welfare texts on a variety of child and youth care issues. He is on the editorial boards of Child and Youth Services, International Journal of Child and Family Welfare, Journal of Child and Youth Care Work, International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies, and Reclaiming Youth at Risk. He has also visited child and youth care programs and offered keynotes, workshops and seminars in over 40 countries – focusing on extra-familial care with young people, creating theory from qualitative data, and the evolution of CYC as a global profession.


Towards a Better World: The Child and Youth Care Response

Child and youth care, and its international variants (e.g., social pedagogy, éducateur, social education), focus on the holistic development of young persons through strengths-based relational work in their life-worlds. How has this profession evolved in modern history and across the growing family of FICE countries, and to what needs and situations has it been responding? What have we learned and what holds us together, despite the vast range of our settings, traditions and societal contexts? Perhaps most importantly, what are the unique tasks of child and youth work today, and in pursuit of what kinds of futures?

There are a number of interesting and significant connections between the great and historic city of Vienna and the evolution of child and youth care as a discipline. Let us explore together some of the enduring values and persistent paradoxes that continue to characterize our work and the literature in our field. It is a thesis of this presentation that child and youth care has contributed in valuable ways towards forming a better world, and that our most important work still lies ahead of us; achieving it may well depend upon what lies within us – individually and collectively.  



Timothy Leung Yuk Ki

Prof. Timothy Leung Yuk Ki, Associate Professor of Practice in Social Work at the Department of Social Work, Chinese University of Hong Kong, is an experienced practitioner, trainer, social worker and counsellor. He is the editor in chief on social work group series promoting group work practices in Chinese communities. He has implemented groups in working with families and clients having pain problems, insomnia, interpersonal difficulties, earthquake survivors, cancer patients, couples and gamblers.





Mooly Mei-ching WONG 

Mooly is an assistant professor of the Department of Social Work in the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a registered social worker in Hong Kong. She is also a practitioner  in family therapy. She is actively partipated in professional practice and staff training in child welfare with regard to vulnerable children and their families in the past years. In 2009, she and her colleagues developed a Family-centered Practice Project in a well-established non-government organization that rendered out-of-home care services in Hong Kong. The purpose of the family project was to advocate a paradigm shift from a child-centered to a family-centered practice in out-of-home care services in Hong Kong. A manual named “Practice Manual of Multiple Family Group for Out-of-home Care Children and their Families” (in Chinese)  was published in 2014 as one of the outputs of the project. She teaches group work in the undergraduate and the post-graudate programmes in the unversity. Apart from teaching, she conducts research in relation to family and vulnerable children, renders supervsion for social workers and practices family therapy and multiple family group therapy. Her research interests included family study,  family-centered practice, children in care, foster care and child protection.


Use of groupwork to foster connection between children and parents for Chinese families

With an increased number of divorces and families facing greater stress due to economic downturn, rapid urbanization and globalization, more and more children have to be placed in residential care such as small group home or foster care. Yet, many have to stay in hostels for long time even though many children have permanency planning for reunion. One critical issue is the strained relationship between natural parents and their children affecting their wellbeing and prolonging their stay in alternative care.

This paper describes and argues how different groupwork models such as multiple family group and parallel group can enhance relationship between parents and children, leading to better relationship, communication, connection and attachment. Research studies have shown that group work involving families with children in care is useful in improving familial relationship and breaking social isolation.
Yet, multiple family groups can also be developed not only  for children in care  but also substitute caregivers such as houseparent, foster parent and natural families and children joining the same programme which enhances cooperation and understanding among different parties. In working with parent-child relationship in multiple family group one major challenge is to change the organizational paradigm from child-focused to family-centered. Hence, intensive supervision and training for counsellors and social workers needed to be provided. We would like to share how we develop social workers, and how we deal with issues in training and promoting the use of multi- family groups and parallel groups for Chinese families. Implications and challenges will be delineated and discussed.




Elaine Au

Dr. Au joined City University of Hong Kong in 1990 and is now Associate Professor of Department of Applied Social Sciences. Prior to this, she had worked as a school social worker and a youth counsellor. Her research areas and publication circle around youth development, volunteerism and empowerment. Both a youth social worker and academia, she integrates youth empowerment in her teaching and has earned her Teaching Award from the University Grants Committee in 2014, making her one of only three recipients of this prestigious award in that year from the all funded universities in Hong Kong.

Youth Development: The Impact on Youth When Mentoring and Taking Care of Children

What is a child? What then is the transitional importance of the youth stage for a child to develop to an adult?  From a macro perspective, the relationship between a child and an adult can be examined by considering the modes of childrearing. The Psychodynamic School examines the personality anxiety characteristic of the link between the instinct (child) and repression (educated adults). The Attachment theory links the childhood and adulthood as a continual. The late modern and postmodern period era serves us intellectual ‘enlightenment’ by prompting us to turn back to the children, conceiving and treating them as whole individuals with rights and worth. It is claimed, one can even learn from the children we care for and learn from the reflections of our own childhood, for that is how we achieve a new self-understanding of what it really means to be an ‘adult’. However, the linkage between children and youth stage is almost not noticed in the youth developmental studies, though research findings do support childhood experiences are explanations of many youth problems, like delinquency and mental problems. To examine the linkage between children and youth, and to find the linkage through the youth personal experiences and perceptions, this research group matching youth volunteers to mentor children and to create an explorative and qualitative environment for us to study these impacts. The theoretical backup of this study is inspired by the research outcome on the mentorship program popular in the school setting and the community on the positive outcomes on both the mentors and the mentees when pairing young people to serve the younger ones.




Heather Modlin 

Heather Modlin has worked with young people in residential care for more than 25 years. Currently, she is employed as Provincial Director of Key Assets Newfoundland and Labrador. Heather is a founding board member and treasurer of the Child and Youth Care Educational Accreditation Board of Canada and a board member of the Child and Youth Care Certification Board and the International Child and Youth Care Network. Heather is a PhD candidate and sessional instructor in Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria

Meeting the Needs of Children and Youth: What does Responsive Practice really look like?

In child and youth care, we often talk about the importance of engaging in responsive practice. We don't always stop to think about what this really means, or how the meaning is influenced by our own professional and organizational philosophies, theories and approaches, and systemic limitations. In this keynote lecture Heather Modlin will share stories of young people who have experienced responsive and non-responsive intervention and the corresponding outcomes. These stories will illustrate factors that contribute to responsive practice and highlight ways in which we can strive to better meet the needs of the children and youth with whom we are engaged.





Olga Khazova

Olga Khazova (LLM, PhD) works at the Institute of State & Law (Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow). Her expertise is connected with family law and child law. Apart from teaching, Olga serves as a consultant for governmental bodies, courts and law firms. For many years she had been a member of the Expert Group at the Russian Parliament Committee on women, family, and youth matters. Olga is the author of a book on family law and numerous scholarly articles published in Russia and abroad. She is a Vice-President of the International Society of Family Law and a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. 


Child removal from the family: National and International Legal Framework

The main focus of my presentation is legal regulation of taking children away from their families when the parents by this or that reason fail to fulfill their parental duties. The starting point for discussion is Russian law and practice, where during recent years there were numerous cases when children were removed from poor families and placed with the children institutions. The reason for that was inability of the parents (often single mothers or parents of large families) to ensure appropriate conditions for children’s upbringing and provide them with necessary care. In this regard many questions arise and, most importantly, whether there are any guidelines or criteria for child removal and whether the State is under a duty to help families in trouble.

These problems are not topical for Russia only, and many European countries have faced similar dilemma. They will be analyzed through the prism of jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights where mutual enjoyment by parent and child of each other’s company is interpreted as a fundamental element of family life and interference with this right without sufficient justification is considered as a violation of article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

In this presentation I will also consider the position of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the issues of deinstitutionalization and child removal from the family, which are amongst the Committee’s main focuses when it discusses the children’s rights in different countries.




Emmanuel Grupper

Professor Dr. Emmanuel Grupper is Head of School of Education and Social Studies at the Ono Academic College in Israel and a senior lecturer in the Child and Youth care department at Beit Berl Academic College. Emmanuel Grupper began his professional career as a direct youth care worker in a residential youth village for adolescents, and continued to head a residential school and then residential care supervisor. His most recent position was head of the Division of Education & Guidance in Residential schools in the Israeli Ministry of Education. His research approach is based on educational Anthropology, and his topics are various aspects of residential education and care facilities for youth at risk (including unaccompanied minors). Another focus in his academic work are the training and professional identity of youth care workers who work with these adolescents, including their professional Ethics.

Prof. Grupper is internationally active in these areas, and has been elected Vice-President of FICE – the International Federation of Educative Communities, where he also chairs the Editorial Board.


Out-of-home care in the third Millennium: Last resort solution or a unique professional response to needs of vulnerable young people seeking for comprehensive care

In this presentation I'll try to demonstrate that the deinstitutionalization movement can have different meanings in different cultural circumstances. My belief is that Children have the same rights even if they were born in difficult family situations, and they deserve quality services in every kind of care they would be placed. The fact that bad institution for children were found in different places doesn't forcedly imply abolishing and closing down of all kind of institutional care. A better option is working for the improvement of residential care and foster care facilities so that they can realize their full potential to heal and develop children and young people who need out-of-home care. In some places like Israel, it is also related to nation-building processes and ideological challenges of society. Israel developed a unique model of residential homes called 'youth villages'. These are educational communities of children and adults living together, with heterogenic and multicultural youth population. They proved their efficiency in educating and empowering youth at risk. FICE-International is working hard to lead this global movement for supplying better services to children and young people at risk all over the world. Some of these initiatives would be presented like developing code of ethics for the professionals, standards for ensuring quality care and adaptation of the residential programs to each youth population who need it.