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DSHS Hispanic Conference will include public presentation

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Gilbert Saenz scans photos and a Veteran of Foreign War sticker submitted for the slide presentation that will be displayed during the Hispanic Child Welfare Issues Conference June 22 and 23, which will be held at the Sunnyside High School auditorium. On June 22, the slide show will be shown during a parenting event open to the public.

Bringing family members together, reminding families that good moral upbringing starts at home and promoting understanding of Hispanic culture are all things the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is hoping people will gain by taking part in its third annual Hispanic Conference.

The conference, which will be held June 22 and 23 at Sunnyside High School, is a chance to bring together people in the Child Protection and Child Welfare Services divisions with other people in the community. The conference will also feature several well-known guest speakers, including author Victor Villasenor and motivational speaker Debbie Wooten. Also speaking at the conference will be Uma Ahluwalia, assistant secretary of DSHS and the Children's Administration.

The conference begins Tuesday morning with registration and continues with a presentation by Villasenor and a performance by Mariachi Huenachi, the Wenatchee High School mariachi band. After lunch people will have a chance to break out into six different workshops, with the workshops focusing on a variety of topics, including presentations from Planned Parenthood, Nuestra Casa and Barrios Unidos, as well as discussions on immigration, and the topic of engaging minority fathers.

Tuesday night the conference will be open to the public for a community presentation at the Sunnyside High School auditorium. The evening, which begins at 6 p.m., will include a presentation in Spanish by Villasenor, followed by presentations in English by Wooten and Yakima County Superior Court Judge Michael Schwab.

Donicio Marichalar with DSHS said all three speakers will talk about the basics of building good character. He said the speakers will talk about the importance of teaching these things to children at home.

"The basic fabric of good character starts in the home," Marichalar said.

Marichalar said DSHS decided to open a portion of the conference to the public as a way to share information they have with people in the community. He said the conference brings in quality speakers and DSHS thought it would be nice to share those speakers with the community.

The community portion of the conference will also include a performance by Mariachi Huenachi, as well as a slide show presentation honoring local service men and women, who are currently serving in the military or have served in the military in the past. Marichalar said DSHS is currently collecting pictures to include in the slide show presentation. He said the community is invited to submit pictures for Tuesday night's slide show.

The conference will continue Wednesday, with presentations from the Executive Director of the Commission on Hispanic Affairs Antonio Ginatta, Benton County Commissioner Lona Malone and Ahluwalia. Don Downing will give a presentation titled "Engaging Minority Fathers" and Robbie Downs will give a presentation titled "Disproportionality of Hispanic Children in Care." The conference will come to a close in the afternoon with the same slide show presentation made to members of the community the night before.

Those who are interested in submitting a photo for the slide show presentation can email a jpeg to Gilbert Saenz at sagi300@DSHS.wa.gov.

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