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Coalition of Social Workers for the Defense (CSWD) Conference: Decolonizing Social Work: Can It Be Done Working From Within? | Monday, October 21

The Coalition of Social Workers for the Defense (CSWD) is excited to announce its third annual conference: “Decolonizing Social Work: Can it be done working from within?” Each year CSWD organizes a full-day conference for the growing number of professionals in the defense-based social practices across the country.

This day long training organized by the Coalition of Social Workers for the Defense (CSWD) in collaboration with The Legal Aid Society, The Federal Defenders of New York, and The Columbia University School of Social Work, will create a space for dialogue about the impact of various legal systems on individuals and communities, centering the voices of those directly impacted.

  • Identify the impact and experiencesof individuals and families in the criminal legal and child protection systems,
  • Describe howthose with with direct experience advocate forjustice-impacted individuals and their families,
  • Deconstruct the roles and responsibilities of social workers and advocates in variousorganizationsrepresenting individuals and families in the criminal legal and family court systems, considering the perspective of those directly impacted,
  • Learn aboutavenues for systemic reform in coalitions seeking to center the voices of those directly impacted
  • Introduce the use of restorative justice circles and how to incorporate these practices into defense-based practice, and
  • Build connections among social workers and advocates working in defense-based settings.

This training is recommended for new social workers, social workers new to the field of defense-based social work, as well as experienced social workers interested in learning more about the role of social work in defense-based settings and gaining skills for working with individuals impacted by various legal systems.

Participants will be provided with resource materials and references and links to more detailed information and specific contacts.

This training is provided without charge to the staff of the Legal Aid Society, other social workers and advocates employed in defense-based settings, and current social work students.

REGISTER HERE. Space is limited!


9:30 – 10:00 AM: Registration and breakfast (provided)

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Opening statements and keynote address

  • Welcome from representatives from the Eastern District of New York
  • Welcome and introductions from CSWD, Rosa Jaffe, LMSW
  • Keynote address jointly delivered by:
    • Brittany Smith, Director of Education, Fortune Society
    • Marlon Peterson, Writer, host of the Decarcerated Podcast, & founder of The Precedential Group

12:00 – 1:00 PM: Lunch on your own

1:15 – 3:15 PM: Afternoon breakout sessions

A- Systemic Reform in the Child Protection System

  • Panel facilitated by: Caitlin Becker, MSW
  • Panelists: Joyce McMillan & Jeanette Vega (PLAN Coalition)
  • Goals for this session include:
    • Introduce participants to the ways in which systemic reform has been led by parents affected by the child protection system
    • Highlight recent success with statewide legislative advocacy
    • Discuss challenges in forming a coalition of parents affected by child protection, and legal professionals representing parents and children
    • Learn ways in which

B- Transformative Practices: The Use of Peacemaking Circles in Defense-Based Social Work

  • Presented by: Vivianne Guevara, LMSW
  • Larry Williams

C- Neighbors in Action

  • Panel facilitated by: Ron Schneider, LMSW
  • Panelists: staff from Neighbors in Action

D- Deconstructing Mandated Reporting

  • Panel facilitated by: Noemi Cotto, LMSW
  • Panelists: Tiffany McFadden, MSW & Eva Santiago (CWOP)

3:15 – 4:00 PM: Closing remarks by Hope House

  • Vivianne Guevara, LMSW
  • Vanee Sykes & Chastity Michel, Hope House

4:15 PM: Offsite networking event: Park Plaza Diner (220 Bar and Grill), 220 Cadman Plaza West