Adoption & Foster Care Certificate Program

New Adobe PDFContinuing Education in Social Work opportunities are available for Spring 2015! Classes start January 23.

*CORRECTION: Mindfulness-Based Clinical Interventions on March 6, 2015, will be held from 9am-12noon rather than until 4pm.  It will cost $70 rather than $90, and will be counted as 3 CEU instead of 6.

THE CERTIFICATE IN ADOPTION AND FOSTER CARE PRACTICE provides clinical and practical training for those working with families and children whose lives are touched by the issues of foster care and adoption.

Please note: Workshops in the Adoption and Foster Care Practice Certificate Program are open to all. You do not need to be seeking an AFCC certificate.

Our Vision: Adoption and foster care competent professionals throughout the greater Rhode Island area.

Our Mission:  Through the Adoption and Foster Care Certificate program, we will promote adoption and foster care competent professionals as resources to support permanency for children in Rhode Island’s child welfare system.

AFCC certified clinicians will…

  • Be flagged in the DCYF system as having completed the program
  • Be invited to attend a peer consultation group facilitated by Lori Geiselman, AFCC Coordinator
  • Be a part of the push for adoption and foster care competency

Program Requirements

Course Descriptions

Adobe PDFCurrent Schedule of Workshops

Workshop Registration

Adobe PDFPre-2014 Certificate Completion Form - This form applies to participants who started the program prior to the Fall semester of 2014.

Adobe PDFCurrent Certificate Completion Form - This form applies to participants who started the program during or after the Fall semester of 2014.

Program Requirements:

There are eleven required core courses.  Participants will also be required to attend three elective courses, which cover a wide range of topics.  In order to receive credit towards the certificate, participants are asked to complete a short post-test.  Courses are held at the Rhode Island College School of Social Work.  Core courses are listed below.  Please click on each course title for further information.

Core Workshops:

Elective Workshops (Examples):

  • Play Therapy with Children in Foster or Adoptive Families
  • Clinical Issues in Kinship Care
  • Supporting Sibling Relationships
  • Gay and Lesbian Parenting in Adoption & Foster Care
  • Therapeutic Groups in Adoption & Foster Care
  • Art Therapy to Achieve a Sense of Permanency

Course Descriptions:

History of Foster Care & Adoption in RI (Kathi Crowe)

This course will focus on the history of child welfare and adoption in the United States as a whole and in Rhode Island in particular. Relevant laws and policies will be discussed and dissected. Participants will learn about the importance of advocacy and will role play their new skills and knowledge.

Foundations for Foster Care & Adoption Practice: Trauma & Brain Development (Dan Harvey)

Participants will explore neurological and environmental effects of trauma on children who are survivors of abuse and neglect. Attendees will learn about brain development in children and adolescents. This course will also introduce strategies to assist with healing and techniques for creating healthy relationships.

Understanding Core Clinical Issues in Foster Care & Adoption (Lori Geiselman)

Participants will explore seven core clinical issues that come up around adoption & foster care. Participants will understand issues as they relate to the human experience and the meaning they have for individuals.  They will learn a strength-based approach to viewing developmental and situational aspects of adoption & foster care experiences.  Participants will use scenario-based exercises to make connections with the new knowledge learned.

Considering the Value & Role of Culture and Diversity (Deoshore Haig)

This course will examine the role of culture and diversity in adoption and foster care practice.  Participants will learn the potential strengths of culture and diversity which can be used to help in the process.  It will also discuss potential issues that may arise as a result of cultural differences.

Working With the Military and Veteran Population (Christopher Morse)

An overview of common difficulties following service in combat areas is presented. Participants discuss considerations for working with veterans and their families.

Mindfulness-Based Clinical Interventions: Applications for Anxiety Symptoms Reduction (Beverly Serabian)

Special emphasis is on anxiety symptom reduction, using research-proven mindfulness-based methods. The workshop format includes didactic presentation, experiential practice and a focus on implementation in clinical practice.

Working With & Understanding the Role of Birth Families (Cathy Lewis)

Participants will learn about maintaining birth family connections and explore the roles of adoptive and birth parents with the adopted child.  Attendees will learn the rationale for building birth parent and foster/adoptive parent connections and identify practice guidelines for building successful relationships.  The course will identify normal, predictable issues in these relationships.

Grief and Loss in Foster Care & Adoption (Melinda Gushwa)

This workshop explores the unique experiences of grief and loss among children and adults in the world of adoption and foster care.  Particular attention will be paid to evidence-based treatment approaches geared toward developing practice skills for clinicians.

Understanding and Avoiding Placement Disruption (Bob Walker)

This workshop engages participants in an exploration of the adoption process and the challenges that can threaten permanency.  From a thorough examination of the child and parental, familial and systemic factors, participants increase their understanding of placement disruption and the skills to avoid this outcome.

Clinical Work with Foster Care & Adoptive Families: Family Formation and Developmental Stages (TBD)

Participants will learn about the stages of family formation after the introduction of a new adopted or foster child.  Clinical issues that arise from these stages will be explored, with a focus on strengths-based practice.  Role play will be used to help illustrate skills and knowledge.

Clinical Work with Foster Care & Adoptive Families: Promoting Positive Identity and Managing Challenging Behaviors (Dan Harvey)

Participants will learn about behavioral challenges presented by children dealing with adoption and foster care, and will explore treatment approaches for this population.  The course will discuss neurological issues that can affect developmental and behavioral outcomes for children.  It will examine parenting styles that positively or negatively affect children's behaviors, learn to assess reasons for behavioral challenges, and discuss the goals of intervention to reduce explosive episodes, pursue expectations, and teach cognitive skills that may be lacking.  Role play and scenario-based exercises will be used to enhance skill-building and knowledge retention.

Ethics: Reflective Practice (Rick Reamer)

This workshop addresses the identification and exploration of ethical and legal issues that are relevant to adoption and foster care.  In addition, participants are challenged to confront biases that can impact clinical practice. 

Adjunct Therapies and Multi-Systemic Resources (panel)

A panel of practitioners will discuss various therapeutic approaches beginning to be used in the field.  There will be materials related to available resources for supporting practice.  The discussion will focus on a goodness-of-fit between client and family needs and treatment approaches.

AFCC Faculty:

AFCC faculty includes professionals from various fields of expertise, such as social work, counseling, and psychology.

Kathi M. Crowe, MSW, LICSW is a nationally recognized expert in the field of child welfare foster care and adoption. Ms. Crowe provides training and consultation to public and private agencies throughout the country. She has worked with youth and directed a variety of programs over the past twenty years including a group home, a shelter for runaway youth, a substance abuse treatment program, a mental health center and a home for pregnant and parenting adolescents. Ms. Crowe is a member of the adjunct facility at the University of Connecticut’s graduate program in social work.

Daniel Harvey, LICSW is an Assistant Professor at the Rhode Island College of School of Social Work. He is a licensed clinician, with approximately three decades of experience in addressing the needs of children experiencing trauma.

Robert Walker, Ph.D., LMHC, is a clinician who specializes in adoption, attachment disorder and family issues
with foster, adoptive, step and birth family constellations. He is an adjunct faculty member for the departments of communication and counseling at Rhode Island College.

Catherine Lewis, MSW, LICSW, is a clinical social worker having worked more than 25 years with foster and adoptive children and families.  She is an adjunct professor in the Rhode Island College of Social Work and is in private practice.

Frederic Reamer, PhD, is professor in the School of Social Work, Rhode Island College.  He has published extensively on professional ethics and chaired the national task force that wrote the current NASW Code of Ethics.
Reamer frequently serves as an expert witness in litigation and licensing board cases.

Melinda Gushwa, MSW, PhD, is an assistant professor at the Rhode Island College School of Social Work. She has over 15 years of practice experience in the areas of public child welfare, psychotherapy, mental health case management and medical social work.

Deoshore Haig, MSW, is a cultural competency consultant at Haig and Associates.

Contact AFCC

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For further information, please sign up for our email list or contact:

Lori Geiselman
AFCC Program Coordinator
Child Welfare Institute
Rhode Island College School of Social Work
600 Mount Pleasant Avenue
Providence, RI 02908
Telephone: (401) 456-4622


Adam Cable
Graduate Assistant
Rhode Island College School of Social Work
600 Mount Pleasant Avenue
Providence, RI 02908
Telephone: (401) 456-2753

The Adoption & Foster Care Certificate is a program of the Child Welfare Institute, in partnership with:

  • Rhode Island College School of Social Work
  • Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF)
  • Adoption Rhode Island
  • Beacon Health Strategies
  • Child & Family
  • Family Service of Rhode Island
Advisory Committee
Darlene Allen Lee Baker* Janice E. DeFrances*
Tonya Glanz Emily Lyon Barbara Keefe
Kathleen Letourneau Roberta Pearlmutter* Marcia Huftalen
Diane Savage Deborah Siegel Lori Geiselman
Dante Del Guidice* * ex officio members
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Page last updated: April 13, 2015