Monday, June 19, 2000

A devotion to children, families

Conference scheduled in September

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Butler County will focus on the needs of children and families at a two-day conference in September.

        The first Safe Kids & Strong Families Conference will take place Sept. 19-20 at Miami University's Hamilton campus.

        The conference is the brainchild of Butler County Commissioner Mike Fox.

        “I have wanted to do something like this for years,” he said. “We need to be reminded that the core strength of the community is in the strength of its families and the intellectual, emotional and physical health of its children.”

        The conference will feature speakers including Dr. Lonise Bias, the mother of former University of Mary land basketball star Len Bias. Mr. Bias died in 1986 of a drug overdose.

        Two other prominent speakers will be Adele Faber, who is co-author of How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, and Thom Hartmann, an award-winning psychologist and best-selling author.

        The county commissioners have provided $150,000 of the $200,000 cost of the conference. They hired Dr. Kittie Weber, a local expert in developmental psychology, to coordinate the conference.

        The commissioners want the conference to increase the public's awareness of children's issues and to create a forum for discussing ways to build strong families and promote safety for children.

        Nurses, social workers, counselors, psychologists, teachers and attorneys will be able to earn continuing education credits by attending.

        Although many professionals will participate, Dr. Weber stressed the importance of having parents involved.

        “We want the professionals to interact with the families,” said Dr. Weber, who serves as a consultant and an adjunct college professor. “Professionals need to know the issues that concern families, and families need to know how to work with pro fessionals and not be defensive.”

        Registration fees for the conference's events range from $10 to $60. Some scholarships will be available for those who can't afford the fees.

        County officials hope to attract 400 to 500 people for the conference's daytime events and 1,000 for the evening events.

        “We want to connect families that need help with those that provide help,” Mr. Fox said.


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