2018 Fall Child/Youth Advocacy Conference

November 15, 2018                  

Topnotch Resort,  Stowe, Vermont              


Voices for Vermont’s Children is presenting a one-day conference packed with information and resources to lay the groundwork for powerful policy advocacy on behalf of children. We’ll share current research about policies that improve children’s lives, and why it’s critical to keep the whole child in mind while pushing for comprehensive solutions. After lunch we’ll hone our skills with workshops on communications, building political power, and other legislative advocacy tools.

We are pleased to share that our keynote speaker is Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha. Dr. Mona is a pediatrician, medical educator, activist and author of What the Eyes Don’t See. She was named one of Time Magazine's Most Influential People in 2016 for her role in exposing the Flint, Michigan water crisis and her public health advocacy in response to the crisis.


Tentative Agenda

(Please note workshops are still in development)

8:30-9:00       Registration, coffee

9:00-9:15        Opening comments from Exec. Director Michelle Fay

9:15-10:00       Keynote: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

10:00-10:50    Plenary Panel Discussion - Austerity or Equity? You can't have both.

Dr. Mona and staff from Public Assets Institute will explore the consequences of austerity budgets on the health, safety and wellbeing of people, who bears the brunt of the harm from underfunding critical programs, and how to fight back against this frame in Vermont.

10:50-11:00     Break

11:00-12:30      Policy Panel Breakout Sessions (choose one):

Health - This panel will look at children’s health policy from a number of angles. We’ll explore how social determinants of health can be addressed and integrated into our health system with the use of community health workers; the continuing crisis of school water systems poisoned by lead and PFAS; and differences in children’s access to food based on location, income, and other equity factors. (Panelists Dr. Breena Holmes, Director of Maternal/Child Health for the State of Vermont; Jen Duggan, Director of the VT office of the Conservation Law Foundation; and Katy Davis, Community Health Initiatives Director for Hunger Free Vermont. Moderator: Sarah Teel, Research Director at Voices.)

Economic Security - This panel will explore the human rights of the children, women and families who are actively disadvantaged by current economic policies, and work to understand the political context in which these choices have been made. Topics will include welfare/Reach Up, paid family leave, minimum wage, and access to child care. (Panelists: Dr. Felicia Kornbluh,  Associate Professor of History and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at UVM; Karen Tronsgard-Scott, Executive Director of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. Moderator: Michelle Fay)

Education Foundations of Education Equity: School Funding and State Education Policy. This interactive workshop highlights two legislative proposals that will advance equity in our schools and communities. Learn about proposed school finance changes and about “ethnic & social equity in schools” legislation. Discover how these proposals will help to address systemic inequities and what you can do to help advance them. (Panelists: Amanda Garces, Immigrant Rights Activist; Stephanie Yu, Deputy Director, Public Assets Institute. Moderator: Carlen Finn)

Community & Family - In this session, we will look at the current state of child protection and juvenile justice in Vermont.  We will hear from Dr. Moira O’Neill who will give us insight into newly established Office of Child Advocate in New Hampshire and hear ways in which an advocate can lay the ground work for system reform.  We will spend time looking at opportunities and fears for the years ahead.  Moderator: Amy Brady, Policy Associate at Voices.

12:30 - 1:30      Lunch -  roundtable discussions and book signing by Dr. Mona 

1:30 - 2:30       Breakout Workshops (choose one):

Building Power  - Amy Shollenberger from Action Circles will guide participants through an exercise to identify existing and potential sources of political power.

Community Organizing and Popular Communication for Social Change -  Immigrant rights activist Amanda Garces will lead this workshop on countering institutionalized inaction with community and collaboration. Using the example of the Vermont Coalition for Ethnic and Social Equity in Schools, Amanda will share how we can make social change by drawing on the experience and wisdom of impacted communities.    

Centering Equity in Public Policy: Participants will gain skills in how to build public policy that reverses structural inequities that get in the way of kids reaching their full potential. Presenters: Rep. Kiah Morris, Sarah Teel (Voices’ Research Director), and Michelle Fay (Voices’ Exec. Director) will share equity toolkits developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Race Forward to generate policies that assure EVERY CHILD receives what they need to thrive.

Nothing about me without me - The past year has shown the power of youth voice in bringing about real change, with the historic passage of gun safety legislation and the raising of the Black Lives Matter flag at a number of schools. Voices is developing a Youth Advisory Council to help ground our policy agenda in the self-identified needs of young Vermonters. Come learn from youth about how to engage them in policy decisions that impact them and support their leadership.

2:30-2:45        Break

2:45-3:45        Breakout Workshops (choose one)

Storytelling for Social Impact - View the short documentary film “I Am From Here” about institutional racism in Vermont schools. Directed by Bess O’Brien and produced by the Vermont NEA. Martha Allen, the Vermont NEA’s equity coordinator will share the process behind the film and how the NEA is using it in their efforts to eliminate racism in schools.

Whose Government? Our Government! - How can we move from transactional relationships with policymakers to transformative, inclusive governance? In this session we’ll learn to identify and support champions who will elevate the voices of marginalized people. We’ll also strategize how to hold leaders accountable for failing to dismantle racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression both in the policies they advance and the way they engage with stakeholders (or don’t). Former State Representative Kiah Morris and Voices’ Executive Director Michelle Fay will prepare advocates to step into their own power to demand better leadership and inclusive institutions.

3:45-4:00       Wrap up & door prizes



Learn about sponsorship opportunities HERE.

Doug Racine

Turrell Fund