Sunday, September 17, 2000

County puts on $200K forum

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — To help children and their families deal with everyday life, officials in Butler County are sponsoring a conference this week promoting the building of strong relationships and keeping kids safe and healthy.

        The first “Safe Kids, Strong Families” conference begins Monday and runs through Thursday at various Butler County sites. It will feature authors and speakers versed in children's issues.

        Conference officials view the gathering, which is open to the public, as an opportunity for county child services personnel to contact area parents.

        Conference coordinator Kittie Weber said “county commissioners wanted to have some kind of way to let the public know about child issues ... and about what services are available.

        “The conference will let professionals hear what families need and families can hear about what is being offered,” said Ms. Weber.

        Some of the prominent guests are entertainer Barbara Mandrell; Adele Faber, co-author of How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk; Thom Hartmann, an award-winning psychologist and author; and Dr. Lonise Bias, child expert and mother of former University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias, who died in 1986 of a drug overdose.

        Dr. Bias praised the county's foray into family-oriented conferences, saying that a focus on helping young people is an issue of paramount importance.

        “Young people are reachable and teachable ... and we have to adjust to their needs,” said Dr. Bias from her Baltimore-area office.

        The conference is the idea of Butler County Commissioner Mike Fox; commissioners voted to pay $150,000 of its $200,000 cost.

        The conference opens Monday at Lakota East High School.

        The conference will offer both day and evening programs on Tuesday and Wednesday at Miami University's Hamilton campus with 16 breakout sessions and five general sessions. Topics include child development, home safety, chemical dependency, parenting, adoption, divorce and school violence.

        Fees for various parts of the conference range from $10 to $60. For more information and over-the-phone registration for anyone interested in attending, call Robin at (513) 887-4203.


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