Child Welfare Conference examines transition to adulthood

KEARNEY – Struggles former foster youth face and programs that help them transition to adulthood will be examined at the 2015 Child Welfare Conference at UNK.

In its seventh year, the April 9 conference is hosted by the Social Work Department at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The title of this year’s event is “AGING OUT: Supports and Services for Youth Transitioning Out of the Foster Care System.”

Peters_Clark-webClark Peters, assistant professor at the University of Missouri School of Social Work, is the keynote speaker and will present “The State as Parent to Young Adults in Care: Challenges, Successes, and What’s Ahead” at 1:45 p.m. in the UNK Ponderosa Room.

Peters has appointments at the Truman School of Public Affairs and University of Missouri Law School and is a policy research scholar at the Institute of Public Policy. His research examines child welfare services, judicial oversight of dependency cases, and the transition to adulthood for young people who have been in foster care.

Previously, Peters was a researcher at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and a Skadden Fellow at the Youth Law Center, where he represented youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems in civil rights actions.

Judy DierkhisingJudy Dierkhising, director of strategic relationships for Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, will also speak at the conference. Her 4 p.m. presentation is titled “The Challenges of Aging Out of Foster Care in Nebraska: Steps Moving Forward.”

Dierkhising has 35 years of experience advocating for adults, children and families in behavioral health, healthcare and child welfare fields. She has degrees in community and human resources, social work and psychology.

The Child Welfare Conference is free to UNK students and faculty. The cost for others to attend, including those receiving Continuing Education Units, is $50. A $10 discount is available to additional registrations from the same agency.

For more information or to register, contact Suzanne Exstrom at 308-865-8739, by email at or visit


Writer: Todd Gottula, Director of Communications, 308.865.8454,

Contact: Maha Younes, Chair Department of Social Work, 308.865.8741,

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