In the early years of Voices for Children in Nebraska, the organization held regular conferences and presentations with national and local experts in communities across the state. Topics were generally focused on juvenile justice and child welfare issues.
In 1997, Voices for Children organized the first “Blueprint for Action” conference. The conference featured guest speakers Jack Levine, from the Florida Center for Children and Families, on “Building Bi-Partisan Political Muscle for Children, Families and Their Advocates” and Tamara Copeland. from the National Association of Child Advocates (now known as Voices for America’s Children – of which we are a member), on “Building Tools for Effective Advocacy.” Participants broke into smaller working groups to brainstorm and discuss child-related topics including hunger, health, welfare reform, parenting and divorce, abuse and neglect, and juvenile justice.
These groups then came together with list of recommendations for action to improve the lives of Nebraska’s kids. This “Blueprint” served as a rough agenda for Voices for Children in Nebraska over the course of the following year. Voices for Children replicated this model in 1998, 1999, and 2000. By 2001, waning interest and limited resources required us to end the Blueprint conference model .
Looking back through the old conference materials, it is amazing to see how much of those early conversations are relevant today. While we have come a long way in building better lives for Nebraska’s children, we still struggle with many of the same issues.
Over a decade has passed since our last major conference. Voices for Children has co-sponsored conferences on financial stability, but we haven’t hosted a conference focused exclusively on children’s issues.
What do you think? Should Voices for Children consider putting together a day-long conference on children’s issues? Answer a quick poll or let us know in the comments.