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2024 Conference Details & Schedule


Our annual conference brings together professionals from a wide variety of disciplines and agencies that provide services to juvenile justice youth including members of the justice system, juvenile service providers, direct care/probation/parole officers, social workers, case managers, educators, mental health counselors, substance abuse counselors, child and youth advocates, law enforcement and other stakeholders in mutual efforts to provide education on the implementation of best practices to strengthen and improve residential and community-based services for youth and their families.

Click to view daily schedule:

Wednesday, April 10


Thursday, April 11


Friday, April 12

Wednesday April 10


6:30 – 8:30PM

Sponsored by Provo Canyon

Treating Substance Abuse Disorders with the Use of Cognitive Processing Therapy

Kim Christie

Continuing Education: TBD

Kim has been working with at-risk youth for more than 5 years.  She graduated with her master’s degree in social work from Aurora University.  She started working with adolescents experiencing chronic suicidal thoughts in a community setting while at Family Services Association of Greater Elgin in Illinois where she discovered her passion for working with complex youth and moved on to Provo Canyon School where she currently works as a supervising therapist.  This workshop will address and highlight the connection between substance us and PTSD and the treatment of PTSD using Cognitive Processing Therapy.  Participants will learn and define the cognitive processing therapy model, understand the importance of treating substance use with cognitive processing therapy, and identifying clientele who would benefit from this therapy. 

Annual Conference
April 11 - 12, 2024


1001 Cass St, Omaha, NE

Booking Cutoff: February 27, 2024

Sponsored by

Criminogenic Continuing Education Credits and Code Definitions


A certificate of attendance will be given to each participant to submit for CEU hours. 


JJS = Juvenile Justice Services CEU
(NE Probation)

SA = Standardized Model for the delivery of Substance Abuse CEU
(NE Probation)

ABHS = = Adult Behavioral Health Services for Probation have been approved and exact number of hours are listed for each session
(NE Probation)

LE = Law Enforcement CEU

CLE = Continuing Legal Education (Nebraska) This conference has been approved for (75647) hours of Nebraska CLE credits

April 10
April 11
Thursday, April 11
8:30 - 8:45 a.m.



Jeremy Hugins, Southern Peaks RTC & HJSA President​

8:45 - 10:15 a.m.
Keynote Speaker

Empowering At-Risk Youth: Strategies for Positive Outcomes

Dr. John Gaines

Continuing Education: TBD

John “Push” Gaines is a former at-risk kid turned CEO/Founder of nonprofit PUSH for Dreams, a Best-selling author, renowned speaker, leadership consultant, and mentorship advocate.  Dr. Gaines has heartfelt enthusiasm for his audience and embraces crucial subject matter with a highly organic, kind-hearted approach fueled by positivity and the intrinsic desire to unite community.  His message of pushing through adversity and defying the odds has transformed classrooms, school districts, and businesses across the nation.  This keynote session will focus on empowering at-risk youth by highlighting strategies for positive outcomes.  It emphasizes the importance of an individual’s belief in the potential of these youth.  The session aims to explore practical ways to inspire and motivate at-risk youth. 

10:30 - 12:00 p.m.

Breakout Sessions and Vendor Display

Growth Resilience in At-Risk Youth: Grow Your Resiliency in Order to Inspire It in Youth

Dr. John Gaines

Continuing Education: TBD

​This workshop will be a practical workshop aiming to teach attendees how to foster resilience within themselves and inspire it in at-risk youth.  The workshop will focus on developing personal resilience and then implementing strategies to support and guide at-risk youth in developing resilience as well.  Participants will acquire practical skills and knowledge to enhance their personal resilience, and they will also learn ways to effectively inspire and guide at-risk youth in building resilience. 


Building Resiliency in Our Personal Lives and Workspaces

Greg Sunderman

​Continuing Education: TBD

Greg Sunderman is a court staff trainer for the Nebraska Supreme Court’s judicial Branch Education division.  Greg has a degree in Psychology and is a certified trainer of Real Colors Personality Testing and QPR Suicide Scree/Prevention program.  Greg regularly trains on topics of trauma recovery and resiliency.  This presentation examines ways to increase personal resiliency in our private lives and at work.  Warning signs and characteristics of compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma will be examined as well as self-care techniques that can combat or alleviate symptoms of burn out and increase resiliency. 


Identifying and Engaging with Youth Who Self-Harm or Exhibit Suicide Risk

Ciara Warden

Continuing Education: TBD

Ciara Warden is a Licensed Independent Social Worker in the State of Iowa.  She is currently employed by the University of NE – Omaha in the Grace Abbott School of Social Work and co-owns a private practice while working on her PhD in Gerontology.  At UNO, Ciara serves as a full-time faculty member and specializes in mental health issues surrounding the issue of suicide.  This training will provide a comprehensive introduction to the area of self-harm, why young people self-injure, how to recognize self-harm, and explore the triggers and predictors to self-harm.  Useful interventions and therapeutic modalities will also be discussed as well as an examination of the differences between non0suicideal self-injury and genuine suicide risk.  As a result, participants will learn how to effectively assess for suicide risk and plan for safety. ​


Adolescent Brain Development

Dr. Janee Pannkuk

Continuing Education: TBD

Dr. Janee Pannkuk has been working with justice involved juveniles and adults for over 30 years.  As a Psychologist Dr Pannkuk has worked with the Nebraska Department of Corrections as well as non-profits and is currently serves as the Assistant Deputy Director for Reentry for the Nebraska Department of Corrections.  In this workshop on Adolescent Brain Development, Dr Pannkuk will provide strategies for professionals working with justice involved youth who have experienced trauma during in adolescence.  Participants will have an enhanced understanding of adolescent brain development, trauma, hyper-vigilance, and human connectivity on brain develo0pment, provide communication, de-escalation, supervision & accountability strategies. 



Understanding Street Gang Affiliation, Mentality, and Culture

Diante Jones

Continuing Education: TBD

Diante Jones is the founder of View Point Services, a gang intervention program which serves the gang population of Omaha, NE.  Diante has personal experience living by the gang mentality within the gang lifestyle. Diante was fortunate to break the chains of the gang mentality, and escape the gang lifestyle.  Diante’s experiences allows him to understand what it takes to disconnect form the gang mentality and the lifestyle it breeds.  Working with at-risk youth for over 17 years, Diante’s workshop will allow participants to better understand street gang culture, gang affiliations and code of conduct and tier levels, modern day indicators of street-gang affiliations, and an overview of his street-gang intervention program. 

12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Lunch and Vendor Display

Don't forget to visit our vendors and sign up to win prizes!

1:00 - 2:30 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

Effective Communication with At-Risk Youth: Tools for Connection and Engagement

Dr. John Gaines

Continuing Education: TBD

​This session will focus on teaching effective communication strategies specifically tailored for interacting with at-risk youth.  It will emphasize the importance of building connections and engagement when communicating with youth.  Attendees will gain practical tools and techniques to enhance their communication skills when working with at-risk youth.  The session will spotlight methodologies that enable effective connection and engagement, promoting a better understanding of the youth’s needs and aspirations. 

​Transition from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to a Local Behavioral Health, Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Crisis Line in Nebraska

Kyle Kinney – Boys Town NE, Michelle Nunemaker – DHHS Division of Behavioral Health

​Continuing Education: TBD

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline transitioned to 988 in July of 2023. Nebraska has administered this change and will continue enhancing this service as we move forward. 988 is a more robust, coordinated, statewide access point for any behavioral or mental health concern, with a three-digit number that is easier to remember. Join us in this session to learn more about what the 988 rollout has meant for Nebraska, where we are heading with this service, and how you can get involved in building awareness for your clients’ utilization of 988.  This presentation will be given by Kyle Kinney who is an LMHP and serves as the program manager of the 988 NE Crisis Line and the Nebraska Family Helpline.  During his nearly 20-year career serving Nebraska, Kyle has provided support to children in the juvenile justice system, the child welfare and foster care system, at-risk students, as well as, the children and families who remain outside “the system.”  Kyle completed his undergraduate work in Psychology at Grace University and his graduate work at Bellevue University, earning an M.S. in Human Services – Mental Health Counseling.  Presenting with Kyle is Michelle Nunemaker, who has dedicated her professional career to working with children, youth and families since graduating from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in 2004. Michelle spent the majority of her career partnering with families to establish safe and stable homes. Through this work, Michelle recognized the importance of children, youth and families having access to behavioral health services that are evidence based and support family wellbeing.  Michelle works for DHHS Division of Behavioral Health and in 2021, Michelle was designated as the State Planner for the implementation of 988 in Nebraska.



Drug Identification and Current Trends

Wes Tjaden – Grand Island Police Department

​Continuing Education: TBD

Wes Tjaden is a law enforcement officer in Grand Island NE with over a decade of experience providing drug education to NE law enforcement and service providers.  In this workshop on Drug Identification and Current Trends, Wes will provide participants with common types of drugs by sight, education on identity of common forms of drug paraphernalia used, current trends for youth and adults, and finally how to identify a drug impaired person and explain why they are under the influence. 


Intersection of Education and Juvenile Law

Lauren Micek-Vargas

Continuing Education: TBD

Lauren started her career in New York City as a special education teacher and development coach receiving her master’s degree in Secondary education and Special Education from Pace University.  Seeing a gap in the system Lauren went on to complete her Law Degree at Creighton Law School and finished in 2015 and worked as an Assistant Public Defender with Douglas County focusing on juvenile law and criminal defense.  Lauren founded the Education Rights Counsel in 2017 and has grown it both in staff and recognition on the state level and has earned several outstanding awards.  Lauren will bring her expertise and experience in education and juvenile law together in this workshop where participants will enhance understanding in the difference between federal and state laws governing education including ADA, 504, IDEA and when they are applicable.  Participants will also be able to identify a school’s responsibility when a student has a mental health diagnosis as well as the rules regulating manifestation determinations and student discipline, and identifying children who may need to be evaluated as dictated by “Child Find”.  Lauren wants to ensure practitioners will be able to have a general overview of special education law and be able to recognize issues of school responsibility as well as available resources for education and support staff. 


Improv Skills for Professionals and Others Working with Justice Involved Youth and Juvenile Service Systems

Mark Ward, Reed Campbell, and Dr. Mike Smith

Continuing Education: TBD

This is a fun, entertaining, and informative workshop where participants will learn and participate in improv exercises targeted at core skill areas of empathy, listening, non-verbal communication, growth, emotion, and well-being.  While improv is often thought of as funny, it is not always that way.  The core skills of improv are to know your audience and to ultimately connect with others “on stage” in real and meaningful ways.  This workshop will tend to be light hearted and yes, funny too.  Participants will learn and practice communication skills associated with effective personal and professional relationships in complex situations including issues of low self-control, antisocial behaviors and thinking, problematic peer relationships, early developmental trauma, problems in education, and of leisure/recreation, and substance use.  These are all concerning variables with at risk and justice involved youth. ​

2:30 - 2:45 p.m.

Break and Vendor Display

Don't forget to visit our vendors and sign up to win prizes!

2:45 - 4:15 p.m.

Afternoon Speaker

Nebraska Children’s Foundation and Project Everlast

Friday, April 12:
8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Understanding Our Identity and Bias

Dominic Green and Amber Strozier
Continuing Education: TBD

Part 1: Identities & Reflections:  In this portion of the workshop we will discuss identity and how people see themselves in relation to those around them and be comprised of many chosen and unchosen, visible and invisible traits and social roles.  Participants will be able to Understand the concept of personal and social identity, identify personal and social identities and Deepen analysis regarding the construction of identity. 


Part 2: Social Identities: IN this portion of the workshop we will discuss Race, gender, country of origin, etc. in relationship to understanding social identity with others in the community.  Participants will explore their own personal identities, realize the diversity within communities, and understand the complex variables that make up individual identities within a community. 


Part 3: Cycle of Socialization and Unconscious Bias: This final portion of the workshop will discuss four states of socialization and the relationship between these stages and learned thoughts and behaviors including discrimination.  Participants will understand how they are socialized to believe or act a certain way and how influence comes from many sources as well as processes for breaking cycles of thinking that are toxic.  Participants will also begin to understand how to recognize and deconstruct unconscious Bias. 

April 11 Keynote Speaker
Morning Breakout Sessions
Afternoon Breakout Sessons
April 11 Afternoon Speaker
April 12
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