Hopes & Dreams 2024 Schedule

Thursday, March 21

8:30 a.m.

Registration and Check-in​

9:00 - 9:30 a.m.

Welcome & Remarks - Amy Holbert, Family Connection CEO and Elizabeth Kinney, Board President

man listens to headphones standing against a yellow backdrop

Dove Dupree
Poet, Music Artist

Opening Session - 9:30 - 10:15 a.m.

Dove Dupree is a poet, music artist, actor, youth advocate, business owner and much more. He started writing raps at the early age of 7. 

Just like in his life, his goal in his music and poetry is to impact, inspire and all the good things in between. He is a teaching artist; where he goes into schools as an artist in residency, and teaches students educational content through arts integration workshops. He incorporates music, rap and media into the subjects his students are learning to help them creatively retain information and have fun while doing it. 

Dove Dupree also leads workshops across the country’s colleges, conferences and churches and more, while managing to blend spoken word and audience dialogue together on topics such as faith, mental health, and social justice issues.


10:15 - 10:30 a.m.

Break to visit exhibitors​

10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Break-Out Session 1

Piedmont Room - 10:30 a.m.

Parent Participation in the IEP Process

Dr. Susan Thomas and Sally Baker
of Family Connection of South Carolina

Amanda Hess of Disability Rights of South Carolina

It’s a fact: when parents are involved and engaged in their child’s education, students demonstrate higher academic achievement, engagement in learning, and motivation. It is so important that parents are the first members listed in the requirements for individual education program (IEP) teams under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In this session, participants will gain insights into how school team members and parents can work collaboratively to gain meaningful input during the IEP process. This presentation will also cover informal ideas and options that parent or guardians can try to pursue in the event that they disagree with a school district proposal or a school district denies their request during an IEP meeting.

Sandhilll Room - 10:30 a.m.

Dispelling Common Myths of Working While Receiving SSI

Amber Lydford, South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department

Whether it is SSDI or SSI, there are many myths surrounding the concept of what may or may not happen to the cash and medical benefits the beneficiary receives. Join Amber Lydford with SC Vocational Rehabilitation (SCVR) for an informative session dedicated to understating and navigating Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits while working. This session will provide a comprehensive overview of SSI and SSDI, eligibility, positives of working while receiving the benefits, income reporting and more.
Pee Dee Room - 10:30 a.m.

Pyramid Model for Early Learning, Development and Behavior

Kerri Wikel, Center for Disability Resources University of South Carolina School of Medicine

Carrie Trivedi, Pyramid PIECES

This session will introduce participants to the Pyramid Model and its tiered framework approach to understanding the foundations of social and emotional development and its connection to overall development and challenging behavior. Throughout the session, participants will hear and be able to identify the research that provides an evidence base for the use of the Pyramid Model. The participants will also be introduced to the South Carolina State Leadership Team for Pyramid Model, Pyramid Pieces, and learn how our state agencies are working cross-sector to collaborate on how to implement these Pyramid Model strategies throughout our early childhood entities, which is composed of our childcare facilities, school districts, our Part C early intervention system, and others.

Palmetto Room - 10:30 a.m.

Stinky armpits, hair and periods: surviving puberty with your daughter with special needs

Kristl Tomlin, MD

Prisma Health

Getting comfortable with uncomfortable topics – from how and when pubertal development occurs, questions about masturbation and sexuality, managing menstruation, and how to broach healthy relationships
Low Country Room - 10:30 a.m.

Parenting techniques for youth on the spectrum perspectives from Knowledge and experience

Cheryl A Wissick, PhD

Retired Professor, UofSC

Youth with autism, learning disabilities,   behavior disorders, attention hyperactivity disorder, developmental disabilities or those affected by prenatal alcohol all exhibit behaviors and symptoms on a spectrum. Invisible disabilities of these neurodivergent youth require parenting skills based on the science of the brain. Obviously as there is a spectrum, not all techniques work with all youth; however, they can be adapted to provide appropriate accommodations.  This session will focus on evidence based parenting skills based on positive brain-based parenting.


11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Break for Lunch​

12:30 - 12:45 p.m.

Afternoon Opening Remarks

Director Peter Keup, Office of Special Education Services, SC Department of Education

John Badalament,
The Fatherhood Project at Massachusetts General Hospital

General Session • 12:45-1:45 p.m.

While perspectives and styles may differ, it’s critical for children’s well being that parents (married, single, divorced, cohabitating) model healthy relationships and reduce parental conflict. This is especially challenging when parenting a child with a disability — where a great deal of stress can be thrust upon people both as partners and as parents. Based on the belief that a relationship isn’t something you have, it’s something you do, this workshop equips parents with practical information and powerful skills to build healthy relationships with each other, their children and with the providers in their lives.

Specifically, participants will learn five key practices:
• Creating a Parents Vision Statement 
• Understanding the Power of Family Legacies on the Past, Present and Future. 
• Finding Balance Through Ritual 
• Connecting Emotionally: Knowing and Being Known 
• Conflict and the Art of Repair

1:45 - 2:00 p.m.

Break to visit exhibitors​

2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Break-Out Session 2

Piedmont Room - 2:00 p.m.

The Two-Way Street of Dad* Engagement in Education, Social Services and Healthcare

John Badalament,
The Fatherhood Project at Massachusetts General Hospital

Findings from the rapidly growing science of early childhood and brain development show that a father’s active participation and emotional engagement with his children leads to improved social, emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes. Providers today are increasingly aware of the importance of engaging dads to be active in their children’s lives. Similarly, many dads are looking to providers for guidance on how to understand and support their children. This workshop helps providers and parents think strategically about creating more father-inclusive environments, as well as provides practical resources to engage your dad community.

* The word ‘DAD’ and ‘Father’ are meant to be inclusive of any adult primary or significant caregiver, inluding but not limited to stepfathers, uncles, mentors, grandfathers, etc.

Sandhilll Room - 2:00 p.m.

Learning SC Law: What Do I Need to Know?

Kirby Mitchell, SC Legal Services

From education to public benefits to family law – there’s a lot to learn when it comes to navigating the law for those with disabilities and/or special healthcare needs. Kirby Mitchell, Legal Director of the Upstate Medical Legal Partnership (MLP), will take session participants through some of the biggest topics – including a recent change regarding filing for guardianship – and cover frequently asked questions from parents and caregivers. Attendees will leave this fast-paced session equipped with the latest information on where to access legal services and legal information to best support their family.

Pee Dee Room - 2:00 p.m.

Parent Partnerships for Preschool Inclusion

Dana M Bennett, SC Partnership for Inclusion

This interactive presentation is for family members, early interventionists, and related service providers to build partnerships critical to the growth and education of the children in their care. Defining inclusion and the importance of forming partnerships to support inclusive practices are key elements of this session.

Palmetto Room - 2:00 p.m.

From Pediatric to Adult Care: Navigating Health Care Transition

Elizabeth MacInnis, MD, Prisma Health

Starting early and engaging parents, youth and providers are key components of a successful transition from the world of pediatrics to adult health care for young adults with disabilities and complex health care needs. This session will cover important steps in preparing for transition, identify barriers and challenges that can occur when transitioning to an adult medical home and recognize key strategies to make transition successful.

Low Country Room - 2:00 p.m.

Families Have Rights: Support for Students Experiencing Homelessness

Birley Wright, SC Department of Education

Kimberly Humphrey, SC Department of Education

Almost 12,000 children in SC are currently experiencing homelessness and many more remain unknown to schools and community organizations. Finding families and connecting them to resources is critical to helping students learn and grown up healthy. In this session, Birley Wright and Kimberly Humphrey with SC Department of Education will provide an overview and address common misconceptions about the federal McKinney-Vento Program, which is designed to address the problems that homeless children and youth face in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school. Under this program, the SCDOE must ensure that each homeless child and youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education.

3:00 - 3:15 p.m.

Break to Visit Exhibitors

3:15 - 4:15 p.m.

Break-Out Session 3

Piedmont Room - 3:15 p.m.

Empowering Independence: Special Needs Financial Planning for a Life of Fulfillment

David Palkovitz, CFP, Apollon Wealth Management

Andrew Jaffee, CFP, RICP, ChSNC, Appollon Wealth Management

With this presentation, we hope to provide foundational knowledge about the core strategies and tools that are often used to help a build a financial plan for a special needs family. Additionally, our goal is to provide context to parents about the appropriate timeline and/or sense of urgency surrounding certain elements of planning. Not all children require the same level of plan intensity or planning urgency. Like anything in finance, the earlier you start, the more positive the outcomes tend to be and having a guide for how to start can make the difference between a successful financial plan and one that is always playing catch up.

Sandhilll Room - 3:15 p.m.

Demystifying Special Education in Charter School

Wendy Ward, SC Public Charter School District

Have you heard myths about charter schools? For example, charter schools charge for attendance, choose who enrolls, don’t teach state standards, don’t have certified teachers, and don’t serve exceptional learners. Navigating the educational system for a child with special needs is often a daunting process that leads to dissatisfaction. Consequently, families are turning to school choice. This session will be led by the Special Education Director of the longest standing charter school district in South Carolina, who will provide information about special education programming for the district’s portfolio of 39 (and growing) schools across the entire state.

Pee Dee Room - 3:15 p.m.

The Marshmallow Challenge

Bonnie Shaw, Bright Start

Linda Kuntz, Bright Start

Come join the Regional Directors of Bright Start as they take you down the road to building relationships between Case Managers, Service Provider agencies and caregivers. Experience hands on activities that will be fun, uplifting and help you understand that partnership is key in creating solid relationships. We will dive into the leadership principles that will assist you in developing your confidence so that you can be open to what a great relationship looks like.

Palmetto Room - 3:15 p.m.

Beyond Temper Tantrums

Karen van Bakergem, LISW-CP,
Medical University of South Carolina

From toddlers to kindergarteners, understanding development and behavior management can be a challenge! This session will cover an overview of child development and age appropriate behavior, tips for effective communication and positive reinforcement strategies and provide attendees with resources and skill development when it comes to managing emotions and big feelings in little ones.
Low Country Room - 3:15 p.m.

Advocating for Children: United to Build Their Future

Deborah DePaoli, Institute for Child Success

Citlaly Rojo, Institute for Child Success

Your lived experience and professional expertise are what make you such a powerful advocate for children. You are already advocating for children and families ALL THE TIME! Join this session to find out how to amplify your voice, partner with other advocates, and sharpen your skills to bring about real change for children. You will learn about state and federal avenues for advocacy and how you can be a part of them. There is so much that unites us! Let us capitalize on that to bring home big wins for kids!