This year’s conference was one to remember. We’re excited to share this letter linked below from the FLAFCC President, Craig Fabrikant, PhD, and President-Elect, Mary Lou Wafstaff, JD. It reflects on the highlights from our 15th Annual Conference and gives us a look at what’s coming for next year.
On December 15, 2018 I began my term as President of the Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. This was the official beginning of what I hope and expect to be a highly positive, eventful year. FLAFCC has always been a leader and an innovator in providing guidance, setting standards, and paving the way for growth, development, and change in all areas of Family Law.
Looking back over the past year, Debra Weaver, Ph.D., our immediate past President, led us on a fantastic journey that provided us with our highly successful conference (chaired by Sheba Katz), as well as progress on the Eldercaring Coordination project and other programs. I, and hopefully all of you, thank her for her hard work and dedication to FLAFCC and what it stands for. We also have a hard-working and innovative Board of Directors who volunteer their time to forward the FLAFCC mission. These Board members are very approachable, and I invite all of you to reach out to them and discuss how to get involved.
Over the next year, we have a lot of important work planned. Our 15th annual conference, whose theme and the title is Miles To Go: Moving Families Forward is currently in the planning stage with the call for presenters having just gone out. Last year’s conference was a great success with the highest number of registrants of any of our conferences. We are going to continue to offer pre-conference tracks in Mental Health, Legal, and Financial areas. The conference will offer workshops provided by top-rated, cutting-edge professionals. Continuing education credits will be provided for all professions including Mediators.
In addition to our ongoing efforts related to Parenting Coordination and Social Investigation, FLAFCC will continue to concentrate on Eldercaring Coordination. In December we created an Eldercaring Coordination standing committee to further this national and international initiative. During 2019 we will also be looking at the Intake Review process for Florida Family Courts. This project aims to revise the family court intake process to better serve families who are just entering the family law arena and may not have professional help to rely on for guidance. We will be updating our website and media material and strengthening our social media presence. This will also make our organization more visible. Each one of these areas is being spearheaded by past and current Board members; please contact me or another board member if you have an interest in helping with these projects.
All of us at FLAFCC are looking forward to 2019 being a highly productive year as we facilitate, develop and enhance Family Law programs to benefit the people of Florida. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve this group. I look forward to working with this fantastic Board and you, all the members of FLAFCC.
My term as president came to a close on December 15 at the annual membership meeting and Board of Directors meeting. I want to thank you all for your support throughout the year. It has truly been an honor and a privilege to be the president of such a prestigious organization. I had a wonderful Board to work with and look forward to this year, serving as Immediate Past President and conference co-chair.
2018 was a memorable year for FLAFCC some of our highlights this past year include:
- Annual conference. This year’s theme Open Minds: Diverse Services for Diverse Families captured what we do every day. FLAFCC again partnered with OSCA to put on an excellent conference, meeting the mutual needs of both groups. FLAFCC has always been forward-thinking– seeking best practices, forwarding research and legislation, to improve the family law experience for FL residents and to provide state-of-the-art research information and best-practice models for our membership.
Pre-conference tracks. We introduced half-day tracks focused on meeting continuing education needs of the various disciplines represented in our membership. These tracks were very well attended, received very positive feedback, and generated income for our organization. The success of these tracks will ensure their presence in future conferences.
Conference content. the conference provided a wide variety of content with the aim of providing information that is directly applicable in the attendee’s profession. There were also a significant number of first-time presenters. As a result, information was on cutting-edge topics, providing up-to-date information, and new perspectives. There were also a number of return presenters with up-to-date information on a variety of relevant topics. It was nice to hear attendees complaining that they could not attend all of the workshops they wanted to!!!
Attendance-the 2018 conference was very well attended exceeding previous conferences. It was great to see familiar faces and add to our membership. The conference also generated additional income for FLAFCC, making future conferences possible.
- FLAFCC Sponsored Initiatives. FLAFCC and a number of its members have been instrumental in advancing best practice models and new legislation. Two current initiatives are in full swing.
Eldercaring Coordination (EC) has continued to grow and increase awareness of EC throughout 2018 under the leadership of the Honorable Michelle Morley and Linda Fieldstone. Here are a few of EC’s highlights: 1. EC received a grant from the American Arbitration Association to recruit new pilot sites, for training new coordinators, and to develop video education. 2. Staywell/Well Care (the largest Medicare/Medicaid Health Care provider in FL contributed grant funds designed to assist their families with financial needs in accessing these vital services. 3. EC has established themselves as, not only a statewide initiative, but a national and international one as well. OH and ID are rolling our EC sites throughout their states; CA, MD, and Toronto are all pending Pilot Sites. 4. Internationally, EC was highlighted at the International Symposium on Innovations with Children and Families in Montreal, at the United Nations at the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and made presentation and conducted a workshop at the International Federation on Ageing Global Conference in Toronto. 5. The ABA Commission of Law and Aging published a new legislative fact sheet that included EC as an option for families in discord. 6. The ABA National Conference on Aging and the Law featured plenary session on EC in coordination with researchers from Va. Tech. and 7. The Australian Mediation Conference in including a workshop on EC in their April 2019 conference.
Congratulations to EC for outstanding accomplishments last year!!
The Family Law Intake Revision Project is underway. This initiative is led by the Honorable Sandra Karlan, (ret) and Robert Merlin, JD. They had hoped for a kick-off at the 2017 conference, but hurricane Maria caused that conference to be cancelled. So, they continued work and had their kick-off at the 2018 conference! With the approval and support of the FL Supreme Court Committee on Children and Families in the Court and in compliance with recommendations in the FL Supreme Court’s Model Family Court opinion (2001), FLAFCC created a Task Force on Family Court Intake. The mission of this task force is to create an intake process to provide information, make referrals to legal or social services, and assist self-represented litigants, with services available whether or not the person files a lawsuit and without regard to income. The co-chairs have assembled various stakeholders to consider the necessary elements to create an updated intake system for families that could be implemented throughout FL.
In closing, FLAFCC has had a memorable 2018, but there is plenty to look forward to in 2019. Join me, as I say farewell, in wishing our new president, Craig Fabrikant, and our Board of Directors a productive and successful 2019.
Dear FLAFCC members and friends:
Hello from your President and Board.
At our annual Membership meeting and Board meeting in December, we had four members complete their terms or leave the Board and three new members elected. We were sad to see The Honorable Ariana Orshan Fajardo, The Honorable Jon Johnson, The Honorable Michele Morley, and Rose Patterson of OSCA leave the Board. We are so grateful for their contributions to FLAFCC and know they will continue to support FLAFCC and its mission.
We welcomed our new Board members Maria Gonzalez, Esq., Yueh-Mei Kim Nutter, Esq. and General Magistrate Amanda Wall who have been hard at work. These new members showed a great deal of enthusiasm and innovative ideas during our planning session exploring future activities of FLAFCC. We are very fortunate to have an enthusiastic and hard-working Board who are all ready at work on various committees, projects, and tasks.
2018 has already been and is expected to continue to be a busy year for FLAFCC. We plan to host several regional trainings on various topics at sites across the State. Our 14th Annual Conference (no not ground hog day! It’s still 14th since last year’s conference was cancelled) will be held September 26 through 28, 2018. The main conference will be September 27 & 28 with the afternoon of September 26 providing pre-conference tracks that will provide specific information on topics relevant to the various professional groups that comprise FLAFCC (mental health providers, Judges, lawyers, mediators, and financial professionals).
The conference will again be held at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando, FL. FLAFCC will once again partner with the Office of the State Courts Administration (OSCA) to present this high-level training event. Our 2018 conference chair, Sheba Katz, Ph.D. and our planning committee, have been working hard to make preparations around this year’s conference theme: Open Minds: Diverse Services for Diverse Families. Additional information is available on our website at www.flafcc.org.
While historically our members have been and continue to be one of our most valuable sources of presenters for our conferences, this year we are pleased to not only draw from our pool of talented members but also have additional stellar speakers. As always, the conference will give you excellent practical information for your practice as well as the opportunity to network with some of the brightest and best in their fields in the various professional areas that help Florida’s families as they are involved in our courts while they are in crisis.
This year’s conference theme is consistent with the ongoing efforts of FLAFCC to explore and support the implementation of alternative dispute resolution tactics in order to provide less adversarial alternatives to family disputes. Additionally, our organization recognizes that the increasing diversity of the populations we serve is requiring adjustments to the way we all help the families with whom we work. This diversity ranges across ages, ethnicities, family systems, legal systems, etc. Because we all work in an ever-changing landscape, we know that this year’s conference will help us all set and maintain the highest standards of the services we provide.
In addition to our efforts to provide quality training opportunities, we hope to expand our web page, offer webinars, and other members-only content to show our gratitude to our loyal members.
One significant focus of our planning session was on the sustainability of our organization by increasing our membership. While there are many fine professional organizations available to provide offerings to our members, we feel that both the AFCC and our Florida Chapter provide unique information because of the combination of our member-professionals in the Court System, the local and state Bar Associations, Mental Health providers, Mediators, as well as CPA’s and other financial providers. All of these professionals are necessary for providing a quality outcome for the families we serve. The Board discussed a variety of excellent ideas and will prioritize them in upcoming meetings. There are excellent opportunities for participation by our members on committees, to assist with regional trainings, and to recruit colleagues at a local level to FLAFCC. Please do not hesitate to contact me, or any Board member, if you would like to be more involved in your Florida chapter.
I also want you to join our excitement about the successes of several of FLAFCC’s special projects. The Honorable Michelle Morley and Linda Fieldstone have spent several years spearheading the Elder Care Coordination (EC) project. They brought this project forward from inception to implementation over the last several years. To date, EC coordination has been piloted in 8 judicial circuits for 28 months. Judge Morley and Ms. Fieldstone will be presenting a workshop at the International Federation of Ageing’s Global Conference in Toronto in August and have been invited to present a training on Elder Care Coordination for the United Nations. A large managed care entity for Medicare and Medicaid has provided funds to support their qualified team members in providing services. The Medicaid entity will support their eligible members in obtaining services recognizing that stress has serious physical health consequences.
We are seeing the building of energy for our new project that is taking off headed by Robert Merlin, Esq. and the Honorable Sandra Karlan, ret. Based on recommendations from the Florida Supreme Court, we created The FLAFCC Task Force on Family Court Intake: Coordinating A Comprehensive System For Florida Family Courts to develop an intake process that will provide information, make referrals to legal or social services, and assist self-represented litigants with the various services that are available when they first encounter the court system and attempt to navigate their way through its complexities. Volunteers ready to roll up their sleeves are welcome.
Finally, please check out our website at www.flafcc.org for ongoing updates, additional information, to update your membership, and for new additions. If you have any suggestions for projects or want to join a committee, please send those to me or a member of our Board. We are excited about how this year has been progressing and we look forward to seeing each of you at the annual conference in September!
Debra A Weaver, PhD.
Dear FLAFCC Members and Visitors,
After making the tough decision to cancel the 2017 conference we are regrouping for 2018. Heartfelt thanks go out to our 2017 conference co-chairs, Deb Weaver and Wilhelmina Tribble. Many others put in countless hours including Sheba Katz, Mary Lou Wagstaff, Connie Byrd, Paul, and Maria Garcia, and Ann Luchini and Leslie Reithmiller of OSCA to plan the 2017 conference. Their efforts will pay off as we salvage work from 2017 and apply it to 2018.
My year as President is coming to a close. Though the conference cancellation was a disappointment, this year has been incredibly rewarding! We launched a new website, found our presence on social media, partnered with new family law groups, and forwarded our two primary initiatives: The Eldercaring Coordination project under the efforts of Linda Fieldstone and Judge Michelle Morley and the Family Court Intake Revision project spearheaded by Robert J. Merlin, Judge Sandy Karlan and Linda Fieldstone.
Please join us for the Annual Meeting which is open to all members. If you cannot be present I invite you to send me your ideas for growing and strengthening FLAFCC to make it your most useful professional organization. The Annual Meeting starts at 9 AM on December 2nd at The Florida Hotel and Conference Center, 1500 Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32809, 407-859-1500. The hotel is offering a special rate of $135/night for those attending the annual meeting.
See you in Orlando!!!
Sincerely, your president,
Dear FLAFCC Membership,
This is an exciting season for our organization! Your board and members at large are actively working on a variety of important projects and making great progress. Revamping our website and becoming technologically up-to-date was our priority this year. We have a beautiful new website and a new venue for sending email blasts and for facilitating conference registration. Many thanks to the website committee of Bob Merlin, Jack Moring, Rose Patterson and chaired by Sheba Katz for working overtime to update our online presence as quickly as possible!
Under the direction of Linda Fieldstone and Judge Michelle Morley the Eldercaring Coordination project is expanding primarily through the education and enlistment efforts of these two tireless workers. We are sure that eldercaring coordination will continue to take root as a first line method of assistance to families and the courts. Linda Fieldstone and Judge Morley will be presenting an informative workshop on Eldercaring Coordination at our September conference. Kim Nutter, an attorney based in Boca Raton, will join them with a presentation on late-in-life divorce. These are important family law matters as our aging population expands.
Bob Merlin and Judge Sandy Karlan are spearheading an effort to revamp the family court intake system. The proposal that they presented to the Family Court Committee (FCC) was unanimously accepted and their position paper is published in this newsfeed. They will be conducting a two-part workshop at the September conference to jump start a task force please attend if you are interested in learning about and/or helping with this very important project.
Finally, the conference planning committee meets weekly to ensure that this year’s Annual Conference, September 25-27, will be excellent. They have a very exciting list of plenary speakers lined up and are putting together a diverse selection of wonderful workshops. Additionally, we have added four hours of professional track education on the Monday prior to the start of the annual conference on Tuesday morning. Attorneys, mental health professionals, and mediators will be able to obtain up to four hours of mandatory credit (topics required for licensure) for an incredibly low price. Please check out the Save the Date attached to this letter. Registration will be open soon!!!
I thank those of you who work so hard on committees and projects. I thank the entire membership for your involvement and support. With your help FLAFCC continues to lead and innovate in our mission to educate our family law community and assist families in transition.