University of Pittsburgh
May 15, 2003

Pitt Cosponsors Annual Family Support Conference June 9-10 at David L. Lawrence Convention Center


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—A forum on community building, outreach, and solutions to family problems, as well as a celebration of success stories, will take place at the 10th annual Family Support Conference June 9-10 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown, Pittsburgh. Cosponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development (OCD), the event features five keynote speakers, two days of workshops, a tribute to the late Fred Rogers, and recognition of individuals who have benefited from using Allegheny County's family support centers.

Allegheny County has 33 such centers, more than any other region in the country, which provide assistance to families in at-risk neighborhoods, in ways that include parent-child developmental activities, programs for children, effective referral to other services, and outreach and community education efforts. OCD trains the staff for the centers, to which it also provides ongoing technical assistance.

The theme of this year's conference, "This is Family Support: Past, Present, and Future," will focus on providing a historical perspective on the family support movement, promoting its vision, and presenting best practices. More than 1,000 parents, neighborhood leaders, educators, and social service workers, among others, are expected to attend the two-day event.

Workshop topics range from teen parenting to creating a learning environment in one's home, from housing issues to financial planning. Registration fees are $75 for one day and $135 for the entire conference. For additional information, call

412-244-5387, or visit

In addition to Allegheny County Chief Executive Officer James Roddey, other conference speakers include:

Ronald David (June 9, 9:30 a.m.)

David recently received the Master of Divinity degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary and is expected to be ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. An expert in neonatal and perinatal medicine, he has consulted on health and public policy matters in the United States, South Africa, and Ireland, and was chief medical officer for the Health and Hospitals Public Benefit Corporation, a large health facility serving the needs of the urban poor in Washington, D.C. From 1981 to 1987, David was on the faculty at the Pitt School of Medicine. While at Pitt, he founded the Traditional Infant Care Program at the Children's Home of Pittsburgh, the first program of its kind to prepare parents of critically ill premature babies in at-home care. His remarks at the conference will reflect on the significance of spirituality in a child's life.

Judy Langford (June 9, 12:30 p.m.)

A senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington, D.C., Langford provides technical assistance to foundations, governmental agencies, and private organizations on developing practices and policies that support families. She once served as executive director of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, an innovative public-private partnership that develops and evaluates community-based programs for teen mothers and school-based health clinics. Langford is leading exploratory work on strengthening families through early care and education programs funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Heather Weiss (June 10, 9 a.m.)

Weiss is the founder and director of the Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. For 20 years, HFRP has helped policymakers and practitioners develop strategies to promote the well-being of children, families, and their communities. A consultant to a host of foundations on early childhood initiatives, Weiss is also coprincipal investigator in the School Transition Study, a longitudinal study of low-income children's successful pathways through middle childhood.

Jim Kern (June 10, 12:30 p.m.)

A nationally recognized motivational speaker and storyteller, Kern holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Wyoming and has taught every age group from kindergarten to senior citizens throughout Minnesota, Michigan, and Wyoming. Kern's remarks will focus on "keeping children connected, so they don't turn to violence." He also encourages his audiences to "unite around joy and laughter."

The conference also is supported by Pitt's School of Education; Pitt's School of Social Work; Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic; the City of Pittsburgh; the Board of Education for Pittsburgh Public Schools; Allegheny County's Executive Office, Policy Board, and Department of Human Services; Pennsylvania Center for Schools and Communities; Mid-Atlantic Youth and Family Network; and Family Support America.