Child Welfare, Adoption Conference Schedule Impacted by Coronavirus Closures

March through May is generally one of the peak times to hold a child welfare conference. But the coronavirus pandemic that has cancelled schools, sporting events and even closed restaurants and non-essential businesses, has also put a halt to those events.

Most significantly, the Child Welfare League of America, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, has postponed its conference that was supposed to take place next week.

“It is with a heavy heart and a full understanding of the incredible work and effort on the part of so many people – which includes our conference planning committee members, presenters, vendors, and sponsors, as well as the terrific CWLA staff and volunteer team – that we have decided to postpone the upcoming CWLA conference,” wrote CWLA President Christine James-Brown announcing the cancellation of the event.

CWLA has not yet determined when the conference will be rescheduled, but James-Brown told The Chronicle of Social Change that the organization has quickly shifted focus to how they can offer guidance and support to the most vulnerable children and families impacted by the pandemic.

“Right now we’re looking forward and not back,” James-Brown said. “We’re trying to make sure the most vulnerable populations are being thought about.”

CWLA currently has a call to action on its site urging people to contact their representatives about legislation to support families impacted by the pandemic.

Other child welfare related events around the country are now also being impacted. Here’s a running list of changes:

National Indian Child Welfare Association (March 29-April 1) The annual conference will transition to an amended virtual conference March 30-April 1. The announcement on the site states: 

As the largest national gathering of advocates for American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, we recognize our responsibility to consider the safety of families, tribes, and communities and not convene a large public gathering. Particularly given the history of epidemics in Native populations and use of disease in warfare against Indigenous peoples, the current COVID-19 pandemic has a particular cultural context for us.”

American Adoption Congress (April 15-18) announced the cancellation of its annual conference.

Rudd Adoption Research Program (April 17) has canceled its annual adoption conference.

National Children of Incarcerated Parents (April 20-22) – The conference has been postponed to a later date. More information can be found here.

Christian Alliance for Orphans (May 6-8) – On March 19, it was announced the annual Summit would move to September 9-11 at the same location in Dallas, Texas.

In the FAQ section on the site, it states: “However, we do anticipate CAFO2020, scheduled on September 9-11, 2020, will include features focused on serving children & families in this new season, as well as additional virtual opportunities. Everyone involved in planning, hosting and sponsoring CAFO2020 will work together on the details to continue to offer and maximize the deep learning, connection and inspiration that all of us in the global CAFO community draw from Summit every year.”

Daniel Memorial Institute (May 6-8) – It was announced March 18 that the annual Foster Care Conference would be postponed to a later date. CEO Lesley Wells wrote: “This decision was not an easy one to make and we are grateful for your continued support. We are currently working with the hotel to determine new dates for the conference and we anticipate possibly rescheduling for the summer.”

Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York issued a statement March 16 announcing the suspension of in-person meetings and events and also that the organization was looking to reschedule its annual May conference for later in the fall.

Family Focused Treatment Association (July 12-15) – While the Family Focused Treatment Association hasn’t announced any changes to its annual conference, it did announce the postponement of its annual Public Policy Institute and TFC Advocacy Day scheduled for May 4-5 in Washington D.C.

“We are exercising an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of all Institute attendees,” the email announcement states. “This decision was not an easy one to make and we are grateful for your continued support.”

National Foster Parent Association (June 18-21) – On April 7, the National Foster Parent Association announced it would move its conference celebrating the organization’s 50th anniversary to 2021 to take place at the same location – Reston Hyatt Regency Hotel in Reston, Virginia June 24-27.

The NFPA’s mission is as vital as ever … Our conference is the largest gathering of foster, kinship, and adoptive parents and child welfare professionals from around the country,” the announcement stated. “The NFPA wishes health and safety to all as we make our way through this challenging time.”

National Council for Adoption (June 23-25) – In late March it was announced that the conference would be canceled and instead an online version of the conference would be offered. The online conference offering continuing education credits will take place June 23 and 24 from 11:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST and June 25 from 11:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST. More information on the conference line up and schedule can be found here.

North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) (August 27-29) – This year’s conference was slated to take place in Toronto, Canada, this year, but given the current coronavirus situation, the conference is being moved to an online platform. A smaller virtual conference will take place around the same time as the originally scheduled conference in August. More information will be posted on their website when it gets closer.

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Kim Phagan-Hansel, Managing Editor, The Chronicle of Social Change
About Kim Phagan-Hansel, Managing Editor, The Chronicle of Social Change 116 Articles
Kim is Managing Editor for The Chronicle of Social Change and Editor of Fostering Families Today magazine. Reach her at