Another annual training conference is in the books and, WOW, was it an amazing success! The 2017 CSDA Annual Training Conference and Expo was held in Garden Grove, California, May 1-4 and was packed full of opportunities from beginning to end. We nearly broke our all-time attendance record having a grand total of 892 participants onsite during the week. We are pleased to report that all LCSAs were in attendance along with colleagues from the California Department of Child Support Services, Office of the Attorney General, Superior Court, District Attorney, staff from the Nevada State Child Support program, and Guam Child Support Enforcement Division. It is certainly exciting to see the continued growth of this event and its reach to partners beyond the California program!
The week was kicked off with an opportunity to network with fellow child support professionals while learning about the wide array of innovative and cutting-edge services offered by conference sponsors and exhibitors. The room was abuzz with riveting conversation as attendees made connections and shared stories. Because of the support of our 23 sponsors and exhibitors, over $40,000 in addition to significant in-kind donations were raised to offset the overall cost of the event and lowered registration costs for all of us. Thank you to all our sponsors and exhibitors!!
The educational offerings over the next three days proved to be relevant, empowering, and motivating. With nearly 70 session workshops from technical discussions to simulations to topics focused on individual wellness…. there was something for every liking. Feedback from conference evaluations included positive comments about the wide variety of session topics, the quality of session speakers, as well as our distinguished plenary speakers. We were challenged by Director Alisha Griffin to think differently about the way we deliver services to families; Dr. Kathryn Edin shared details of her discoveries about the overwhelming number of families living on $2.00 per day; and Frank Abagnale left each of us thinking a little differently about identity theft and the unique challenges that come with social media. Dr. Edin and Abagnale’s books were sold out in a flash and both authors graciously signed a great number of books for attendees. A heartfelt thank you is extended to Alisha Griffin, Dr. Kathryn Edin and Frank Abagnale for taking the time out of their busy schedules to spend time with us.
Throughout the week, attendees took full advantage of the mobile app, not only to access materials, but to add to the ‘live feed’. The child support community certainly made their mark on Twitter by tweeting about their positive experiences throughout the week, that was a lot of fun! After hours, some attendees made their way to Disneyland or shuttled off to the LA Dodgers/SF Giants game; everyone seemed to enjoy their evenings and many spoke of the value they found in networking.
The Awards Banquet was an excellent time to honor the contributions of so many brilliant child support professionals and enjoy the company of colleagues. Many took the opportunity to sit with talented caricature artists or visit the selfie stations to help draw out their inner Superhero. Attendees were eager to grab a seat at the closing plenary, certainly the most well-attended closing plenary we have had, to listen to the life story of Frank Abagnale, as told himself. He certainly kept the audience engaged.
It is fitting that the conference theme was “Partnership of Heroes” because the success of this event is truly due to the partnership we have in this program. Whether you are a conference committee member, a session coordinator, a speaker, IT support, one of the 52 onsite volunteers, an attendee, or someone who supported the conference process in other ways…. you made this happen. The 2017 Conference Planning Committee would like to extend their sincere thank you to all of you for your dedication to making each year better than the last. We already look forward to creating an amazing experience for 2018. Thank you and please mark your calendars for next year! Monday, April 30 – Thursday May 3, 2018 Hyatt Regency Orange County. *
* Look for further details in upcoming Newsletters and communications from CSDA.