Child Welfare Conference explores mental illness

UNK Communications

KEARNEY – The sixth annual Child Welfare Conference is April 11 at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Joanne Riebschleger“Parenting with a Serious Mental Illness: Minimizing Risks and Building Family Resilience” is the theme of the conference, which features speaker Joanne Riebschleger, associate professor of social work at Michigan State University. Riebschleger is nationally and internationally known for her research on the impact of parental mental illness on children and families.

Conference attendees will learn about the experiences of children, parents and other family members who live in a family with a parent who has a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Millions of American children face challenges in coping with symptoms of a parent’s mental illness. Children are often exposed to risk factors associated with developmental delay and difficulties.

Riebschleger is an expert on families of people with serious mental illness. She has over two decades of experience in mental health practice with children and families.

Her research focuses on building a mental health consumer-guided, evidence-based practice for middle school age children who have a parent with a serious mental illness.

Riebschleger will present examples of intervention models for children, parents and families.

A husband and wife team of professional social workers will also discuss their personal experience with mental illness and its implications for their relationship and their role as potential parents.

Community members and professionals are encouraged to register early by contacting the Social Work Department at 308-865-8741 or Registration also will be open the day of the conference, which begins at 8 a.m. in the Ponderosa Room of the Nebraskan Student Union.

Registration is $50 and professionals can earn Continuing Education Units for attendance. The conference is free to UNK students and faculty, UNK field supervisors and social work committee members.

The Child Welfare Conference is sponsored by the UNK Department of Social Work and the Phi Alpha Honor Society for social work students.

Conference Schedule
8-8:15 a.m. – Registration
8:15-9:30 a.m. – Impact of Parental Mental Illness on Children and Families
9:30-10:15 a.m. – Panel Discussion
10:15-10:30 a.m. – Break
10:30-10:45 a.m. – Recognition
10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – Strengthening children, parents and families
12:15-12:30 p.m. – Closing remarks and evaluations


Source: Maha Younes, 308-865-8741,
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529,

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