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IU Northwest to host 18th Annual Forum on Child Abuse and Neglect on April 4

Program will include guest speakers, continuing education sessions for social workers and foster parents

On Friday, April 4, the Indiana University Northwest School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Division of Social Work, in cooperation with Prevent Child Abuse Lake County (PCALC), Dunebrook: Prevent Child Abuse LaPorte County, Mental Health America, The Villages, Parents as Teachers of Lake County, Community Partners for Child Safety, and the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS), will present the 18th Annual Forum on Child Abuse and Neglect.

This free program, which shall include guest speakers, child-safety presentations and breakout continuing education sessions for social workers and foster parents, will begin at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and networking in the Savannah Center Auditorium, located in the southeast corner of the main campus parking lot at 33rd Avenue and Broadway in Gary, Ind. The formal program will begin at 9 a.m.

This year’s scheduled guest speakers include James Payne, director of Indiana DCS, and James Hmurovich, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAA) in Chicago. Both will discuss the latest trends and developments in the ongoing effort to diminish incidents of child abuse and promote child safety. Local child-advocacy organizations will also be on hand to provide information and network with other professionals and volunteers.

This year’s event also will feature several breakout sessions that social workers and foster parents may attend for continuing education credits. These sessions include:

It's My Body: This body-safety program is intended to help prevent sexual abuse by teaching children how to distinguish between good and bad touches, how to say “No,” and how to tell someone if inappropriate touching has taken place. Session participants will have the opportunity to observe a live presentation to local children.

What in the World Happened to This Child? Foster Parent Disbelief: This workshop will give foster parents an opportunity to participate in an informal discussion with clinical therapist and IU Northwest Assistant Professor of Social Work Denise Travis, Ph.D., who has 27 years of experience in working with foster and adoptive children. Session participants will be encouraged to ask questions about diagnoses, treatment and the effects of trauma on child and adolescent development.

Domestic Violence and Child Abuse: This session will focus on a discussion with advocates for domestic-violence victims and law enforcement officials regarding issues surrounding children who witness domestic violence.

Lake County Child Fatalities: Prevailing Problems, Perspectives, and Prevention: This session will present a panel discussion with the local Child Fatality Review Team regarding statistics, prevention and other information about child deaths in Lake County. The panel includes representatives from the Lake County Coroner's Office, DCS and the Lake County Prosecutor's Office.

A Positive Environment for Your Young Child: Representatives from the advocacy group Parents as Teachers will present four child topics that can help parents provide their children with a positive environment. These topics include: Safe Sleeping, Shaken Baby Syndrome, Understanding Crying Babies, and Parent-Child Interaction Activities.

Breakout sessions will begin at 11:30 a.m. Program participants can sign up in advance for their preferred session on a first-come, first-served basis. Seating is limited for the Foster Parent and Positive Environment sessions. The breakout sessions will include complimentary box lunches courtesy of Family Express Corporation.

The formal program will begin at 9 a.m. with an address by Payne, followed by a panel discussion featuring Lake County DCS Director Jane Bisbee, Dunebrook Executive Director Diana Dibkey, and PCALC board member Wendy Kaplan. Following the breakout sessions, Hmurovich will deliver the afternoon plenary remarks starting at 1 p.m.

Hmurovich, who is a native of Northwest Indiana and an alumnus of IU Bloomington, is a former deputy commissioner for the Indiana Department of Corrections and also served as the Indiana State Welfare Director. Prior to his appointment as president and CEO of PCAA, Hmurovich managed his own consulting business for five years after 30 years of public service. Hmurovich’s priorities for PCAA include: the development of concise, consistent messaging about the importance of preventing child abuse and neglect from occurring in the first place; the development of a statewide prevention planning process that promotes prevention as a “way of thinking, not as a funding stream”; and expansion of the infrastructure of the PCAA National Office to serve more effectively the organization’s state networks.

The 18th Annual Forum on Child Abuse and Neglect is free and open to the Northwest Indiana community, and advance registration is suggested. Participants may register by calling (800) 897-0007, or by emailing The forum is part of SPEA’s annual Public Service Week at IU Northwest.

The Savannah Center is located in the southeast corner of the main IU Northwest campus parking lot at 33rd Avenue and Broadway in Gary, Ind. There will be free parking for forum participants.

For more information, contact Associate Professor of SPEA Rick Hug at (219) 980-6838, or email him at



Media Contact:

Christopher Sheid

Michelle Searer

Rick Hug
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
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