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IU Northwest to host 29th Annual Forum on Child Abuse and Neglect April 26

New workshops to address such topics as self-healing communities, youth violence, opioid epidemic, and more

On Friday, April 26, in observance of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Indiana University Northwest School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), and its community partners, will host the 29th Annual Forum on Child Abuse and Neglect, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Bruce W. Bergland Auditorium, located in the Savannah Center.

Keynote speaker offers a survivor’s perspective

In recent years, advocates for the prevention of child abuse and neglect have adopted an ambitious goal – to end child abuse and neglect. They argue that it is not enough to deal with abuse and neglect after they occur; that it is important to focus research, services, and policy attention so that abuse and neglect never occur.

This year’s keynote speaker, Lori Poland, believes in this message so strongly that she established a foundation and named it “EndCAN,” which stands for End Child Abuse and Neglect. In 1983, three-year-old Lori Poland was abducted from her front yard, sexually abused, and left in the pit of an outdoor toilet in a remote area of Colorado. After three days, a pair of birdwatchers rescued her. Besides the trauma of abduction, she also endured emotional and ongoing sexual abuse, over a long period of years after her kidnapping. In her keynote address, she will detail how she moved out of suffering and into compassion, healing, and hope. Her message is that it is possible to move past the anguish, to let go of the hurt, to find inner peace and connection, and thus create a new normal.

Poland, a mother of three, has spent her career in a variety of positions working with families, children, and individuals in a variety of clinical and other settings in the public and private sector. A motivational speaker for 22 years, Poland holds a master’s degree from Regis University in counseling psychology and several additional certificates and extensive training in child and adolescent therapy, marriage and family therapy, infant mental health, attachment, and Rapid Resolution Therapy.

Impactful workshops

Two double workshops focus on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and our society’s response. The one-hour film, Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope will be shown in the morning (part one) with a full afternoon session devoted to discussion on ways to apply ACE’s research and the science of hope to achieve “self-healing” communities (part two).

Additional workshops this year address two of the many problems associated with child abuse neglect and other adverse childhood experiences: youth violence and the opioid epidemic. “Ending Violence in the ‘Hood’” focuses on school dropout prevention and “The Impact of the Opioid Epidemic on Minority Communities” offers a perspective on the issue that is not often voiced.

While there are many new topics and speakers this year, longtime Forum participants will recognize some favorites from the past. Familiar names will return to address immigration issues, LGBTQ matters, reflective supervision, and the prevention of child sexual abuse. In addition, Department of Child Services Regional Director Ellis Dumas will again join Juvenile Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak to report on local trends and issues in their domains.

Special guests

The day will begin with registration and continental breakfast from 8:15 and 9 a.m., followed by introductory remarks by Elizabeth Guzman-Arredondo of Calumet College of St. Joseph, Marshelia Harris of IU Northwest’s School of Social Work, Ellis Dumas of the Indiana Department of Child Services, and IU Northwest Chancellor William J. Lowe.

IU Northwest Alumna Wendy Hensley, program director for Mental Health America of Lake County, and a member of the Prevent Child Abuse Lake County board, will then present this year’s Cherish the Children Award.

Special guests Todd Meyer of the Indiana Department of Child Services and Sharon Pierce of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana will wrap up the conference with their remarks.


Because seating is limited and lunch is provided, early registration is encouraged by Monday, Apr. 22, and can be completed here:  are welcome; however they are not guaranteed seating or lunch.

The Forum on Child Abuse and Neglect will provide continuing education units (CEU’S) for licensed social workers.

Parking is available in the main campus lot (off 33rd Avenue – north of the Savannah Center) and in lots on the east side of Broadway north of 34th Avenue.

For more information, call 219-762-3465. The full agenda, with details on each workshop can be found at

For those who cannot attend in person, live streaming video will be available at:

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