Family to Family: Communicating with Birth Parents as Partners / 1 Hour
Cathleen Hawks, M.A., has enjoyed a career spanning 28 years serving persons with mental illness and developmental disabilities to children and families in and out of the child welfare system. Her career began in the private sector as the founding director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in Illinois and in the role was tapped by Governor Edgar of Illinois to be the first woman to serve as the Inspector General over the Illinois mental health and developmental services system. Within years, she was selected to develop and lead the University of Illinois’ Behavioral Health for At-Risk Youth Project focusing on addressing the needs of children in the state’s child welfare system receiving high end residential services. Her work included designing and implementing a hospital-based program, Comprehensive Assessment and Response Training System (CARTS), to provide no decline hospital based services to youth at risk of being placed out of state in residential care. Partly as a result of the comprehensive projects undertaken at the University of Illinois 700 youth in out of state placement were returned to Illinois from out of state placements. Following her career in Illinois, she was recruited by the Virginia Governor’s administration to become the Chief Deputy Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services. One responsibility of this role was to lead the negotiations and management of the Virginia response to federal Department of Justice’s litigation concerning the state facility system in Virginia.
She also served as the Deputy Secretary of Florida’s Child and Family Services administration and the Tennessee Department of Mental Retardation Western Regional Director. She was the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia adoptive, foster, and kinship association, NewFound Families, for 13 years as well as the volunteer Executive Director of the National Kinship Alliance for Children. She has personal experience in kinship care and brings her commitment and passion to her daily work of navigating families to supports and services across the country.
Cate is currently providing consultation services to child welfare and family associations through her latest venture, Odyssey Consulting. Her specialty is agency program design/implementation as well as conference, event, and camp development/planning/implementation. Her passion is finding the way for foster, adoptive, kinship, and birth families to support one another to help children retain continuity in their relationships.