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As someone who was bullied in grade school and even into college for trying to be myself, safe spaces were reassuring. I was attending Gannon University, a small private Catholic college, at the time. Seeing a rainbow decal in classroom was not only a reflection of the change I saw in the world, but also a signal that there were people who accepted me for me.

There are times in life when things just seem to fall into place. For me, becoming a board member at Voce is one of those times. One day, out of the blue, I received a message from someone I’d worked with for many years about meeting to discuss Voce. One conversation led to another with Executive Director Rick Azzaro, and it was then I learned more about the mission and the great team Voce has throughout Pennsylvania working to expedite adoptions and permanency.

When it became certain Voce’s former office space would be demolished to expand the neighboring highway, it seemed fitting as a “change agent” that “imagines possibilities” we would embrace the opportunities that come with an office move. After months of planning and preparation, we moved into our new space in December 2023, marking a new era for our organization and the programs we support.

Early in January 2023, the Forum on Pennsylvania’s Children (FPaC) planning team gathered around the table once again to recap the inaugural event and envision the 2023 Forum. The objective was straightforward: convene professionals from child-serving sectors in a setting that facilitates learning and fosters connections toward healing childhood trauma. Propelled by positive feedback from the inaugural 2022 event, the team wanted to challenge trauma professionals to continue to build an understanding of trauma issues while developing mutually beneficial connections to enhance and expand their impact.

Voce Executive Director Rick Azzaro and musician/trainer Jim Donovan could be described as kindred spirits. When they first met a few years ago, they immediately connected around shared interests in music and healing from trauma. “The first time we met, we talked for three straight hours,” Rick, who is a musician himself, shared. “What I see in Jim is a sincere desire to use what he knows to help people.”

Jesse Kohler, Executive Director of the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP), will provide the keynote at Voce’s second Forum on Pennsylvania’s Children to be held November 14, 2023 at the Penn Stater Conference Center, State College. Jesse has years of experience building community and systems capacity and educating coalitions on emerging innovative practices to implement trauma-informed values.

In November, Voce will be presenting the second Forum on Pennsylvania’s Children (FPaC), a one-day event singularly focused on learning and collaborating to heal childhood trauma. Last year’s event provided a space for participants from different service systems to explore and innovate, but our work is just beginning.

“I have engaged Voce representatives on multiple opportunities to provide workshops on race equity and trauma to a variety of audiences. Their presentations are consistently based on thorough research and are delivered in an innovative manner."

Training for Adoption Competency impacted me, both professionally and personally, in numerous ways. I was initially drawn to the accredited program because as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I wanted to serve families with the best clinical practice possible. Imagine my surprise when it really hit home for my most important job, being a mom of two siblings adopted from the Pennsylvania foster care system.

Adoption professionals have long recognized the need for a comprehensive, multi-layered continuum of support to ensure stability and well-being for children who have been adopted and their families. Now, an online learning community from our colleagues at Identity has launched to provide accessible, diverse, and ethical education to adoptive families.

Child welfare is beginning to experience a transformational shift in approach and thinking – from a reactive or remedial stance to a proactive, preventative stance. There is a national movement currently to rethink child welfare by creating the conditions for strong, thriving families where children are free from harm.

In over 30 years of working with adult and child victims of sexual trauma, six of which were spent as a director in a rape crisis center, I witnessed the impact of sexual assault on the victim as well as their family, friends and community. There is never a single victim of such an unspeakable trauma.

Child victims of abuse experience unspeakable trauma, loss and disruption and are often misunderstood by professionals and the community at large. These children need advocates and professionals who practice with empathy and understanding.

Compassionate, thoughtful and insanely knowledgeable — as I’ve gotten to know her over the last six months, this is how I would describe Shadell Quinones, Manager of Adoption Services for Chester County (PA) Department of Children, Youth and Families for the past ten years.

Serial entrepreneur and founder of Wolfe, LLC, Jason Wolfe’s mind is arguably wired for systems and technology. His heart, however, is wired for children. Jason is guiding Voce, a change agent and pioneer in best case practice in adoption and permanency, in developing a software solution to transform and advance adoption practice.

How can our expertise and experience help you?

Let’s create positive, lasting change together.