Relatives Matter: Caring For Children, Youth And Family



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Second conference for kinship caregivers takes place September 16 in Havre de Grace


“Relatives Matter: Caring for Children, Youth and Family” takes place Friday, September 16, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Havre de Grace Senior Activity Center, 351 Lewis Lane in Havre Grace.

The conference is for kinship caregivers in Harford and Cecil counties. Kinship caregivers are relatives who assume the full-time care of a child whose parents are unable to do so for various reasons. Often, kinship caregivers are grandparents but could also be an aunt, uncle or non-relative adult who has a longstanding relationship with the child or family.

The conference starts with a keynote address on “The Effect of Substance Abuse on the Family,” given by Colleen Hosler, senior associate at the Mosaic Group and co-creator of Families Strong.

Following the keynote address will be a discussion on “Legal and Financial Choices for Kinship Caregivers” presented by Ann Cogan, director of the Harford County Circuit Court Self Help Desk; Matt Hurff, partner at Love, Fleming, Bearsch & Hurff, LLC; Jean Rose, child support specialist at the Department of Social Services Office of Child Support Enforcement; and John Kohlar, supervisor, WAGE Connection.

Sharon Lipford, executive director of Healthy Harford, will discuss “The Changing Face of Healthcare: Your Health…Matters Now!” during lunch.

Two breakout sessions will be held in the afternoon. The first session will focus on “Keeping Your Kids Safe in this Online World,” presented by Senior Deputy Robert Kovacs of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. The Harford County Bar Foundation will present “Determine Your Destiny,” which will be modeled on brief advice seminars and clinics held at senior centers across Harford County, where attendees learn to make legal plans for their future.

The remaining breakout session features “Navigating the Contents of Your Child’s IEP (What does it all mean, and how can an advocate help?)” presented by Katy Bosserman, advocate, Creative Learning Experiences, and “Sticking Together: Kinship Care and Financial Care,” presented by Ellen Kunzelman, family self-sufficiency coordinator at the Havre de Grace Housing Authority, and Jackie Shaffstall, operations manager at the Havre de Grace Housing Authority.

A resource and benefits fair will be held throughout the day and will include displays from the Title Sponsors Circuit Court for Harford County-Office of Family Court Services; Harford County Department of Social Services; and Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy. Also part of the fair will be the Gold Sponsor, Harford County Bar Foundation; and Silver Sponsors Harford County Local Management Board and Harford County Public Library. Maryland Coalition of Families and Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County will also be part of the fair.

The conference is free of charge to kinship caregivers and includes continental breakfast and lunch. For professionals in the field of kinship caregiving (such as social workers), the fee to attend is $35 per person, and they will receive four Category I CEUs.

Registration is requested by September 13 by visiting or by calling the Harford County Bar Foundation at 410-836-0123.

Last year the first kinship caregiving conference was held in Harford County and attracted nearly 70 participants. This year the goal is 100 participants.

“We look forward to adding to the experience of last year’s attendees and are hoping to reach those kinship caregivers in Harford and Cecil counties who aren’t familiar with resources available to them,” said Caity Lovett, navigator, Harford County Kinship Program and conference chair. “We moved the location of the conference to Havre de Grace to be more accessible to attendees. Public transportation is available near the site, and transportation vouchers are available but must be requested prior to the conference.”

The conference is presented by the Harford County Department of Social Services, Kinship Navigation; Circuit Court for Harford County-Office of Family Court Services; Harford County Bar Foundation; Office on Mental Health; Harford County Local Management Board; Maryland Coalition of Families, Harford County; and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.

For more information on kinship caregiving, visit

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