Problematic Behavior or Activity
While working child abuse and child homicide cases, then-Detective Craig Roberts felt there was a void in communication and training for first responders and professionals in dealing with these crimes. The challenge became how to get all of these individuals together to begin the conversation of protecting children and those most vulnerable in our society. Specifically, how do you get law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, social workers, physicians, protective services, and educators all to the table?
Hardworking professionals in multiple agencies were doing their best to investigate and solve these cases and hold the individuals responsible for their crimes. Unfortunately, the lack of a coordinated effort made this task more difficult and further exposed the community to the dangers of child abuse and family violence.
In April of 2000, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office hosted the first annual Child Abuse and Family Violence Summit in Wilsonville, Oregon. This conference brought together the many disciplines that work together on these cases and provided an arena for open dialogue and an opportunity to learn from some of the leading experts in the field. The original “Summit,” as it is referred to, had 338 attendees. Since then the Summit has grown into an internationally recognized conference and in 2015 had 773 attendees with 57 presenters holding 109 different sessions over the three-and-a-half-day conference. Attendees come from around the United States, Canada, and abroad to attend and gain from this invaluable experience.
The conference format allows for attendees to select the course work most applicable to their profession or need, as it provides a large variety of sessions in the areas of investigations, interviewing, assessment, prosecution and treatment of child abuse and domestic violence.
The Summit is held annually during the third week of April at the Red Lion Jantzen Beach in Portland, Oregon. The primary goal of the Summit is to educate professionals on the complex issues associated with child abuse and family violence, to broaden each professional’s knowledge base in multiple areas and to increase understanding of the other agencies roles and responsibilities.
The Summit is funded through corporate sponsorships, sales of merchandise at the conference, scholarships from partnering agencies and tuition from the attendees. The overall cost to hold the Summit is roughly $250,000 annually. There are approximately 85 volunteers who work tirelessly during the conference and roughly 20 employees from a variety of agencies on the planning committee who devote a tremendous amount of themselves to make each Summit a success.
For the past 16 years, the Child Abuse and Family Violence Summit has allowed professionals to gather, collaborate, and become educated on the latest techniques and strategies to combat these horrible crimes. In this time, thousands of individuals have received training, heard testimonials, and developed new methods that have allowed them to be more effective in tackling these cases, regardless of the role they play. The Summit continues to be at the top of the training list each year for numerous disciplines and provides current and critical information in a setting focused on education and collaboration.
Critical Success Factors
The primary success factor for the Summit is the organizational commitment from our agency. Having a dedicated individual with a vision, in our case, Sheriff Roberts, and assembling a diverse team to plan and execute the various moving parts of the conference is vital to its success. Even with this vision, however, the Summit would not succeed without the tireless work of the many volunteers.
Be mindful of the size of your venue and anticipated attendance. Our agency quickly learned that the conference would outgrow the original site and had to develop a new business partnership in a short time. If part of the audience you are targeting would require travel, make sure there are adequate travel and lodging options available.
A course evaluation and overall conference evaluation process are essential to assess your curriculum and ensure that the content is current, and your presenters are well received. Be willing to move away from some presenters or topics if they are not meeting your standards. A negative session or presenter can have an impact on retention and future enrollment. Consider timing of an event similar to this in terms of time and days of the week. This conference is held during the workweek, which minimizes the potential for overtime expenses.
Finally, tasks should be assigned early in the planning process regarding the logistical aspects of holding a conference and consulting with your host site. There should be a one- or two-person point of contact that all requests and concerns are routed through. That makes tracking issues and coordination with the venue much easier. No task is too big to take on. It may require that one reaches out and asks for help or works in collaboration with others, but in the end, you can make a difference. For more information on the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Child Abuse and Family Violence Summit, please visit our website at www.ChildAbuseSummit.com.