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Children’s Cove 19th Annual Champions for Children Conference was Virtual Success 


Information from: Stacy Gallagher, Director 

Children’s Cove    

The innovative multidisciplinary virtual conference had a record number of attendees  

(Barnstable, MA) – November 2, 2021, Children’s Cove, the Cape & Islands Child Advocacy Center, hosted its 19th Annual Champions for Children Conference in a virtual setting on October 21, 2021, which allowed a record number of attendees to participate in one of the premiere child maltreatment conferences in the country.  The conference provides professionals in the field with extensive and innovative insight to assist child victims and families in their community.     

Typically held for two days in person each year, the Champions for Children Conference took a hiatus last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being the largest professional conference for those serving child victims of crime, going two years without the event was not an option for Children’s Cove. Stacy Gallagher, Director of Children’s Cove stated “We heard from numerous partners over the last year that they missed our conference. Not only for the workshops and skills learned, but the ability to connect and network with other professionals in the field. We didn’t want them to miss out again.” 

By moving to a virtual format and a generous sponsorship from the Cape Cod and the Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, Children’s Cove was able to offer the conference at no cost to attendees, increase the number of participants who would usually be able to attend, and provide the opportunity to frontline workers who at times cannot attend.

The keynote speaker for the conference was Kevin McNeil, a former special victims unit detective with the Dekalb County Georgia Police Department.  McNeil’s presentation, “Together We Stand: The Importance of the Multidisciplinary Team,” was an engaging lecture that highlighted the importance of child advocacy centers, and how the power of multidisciplinary teamwork is crucial for success in child abuse cases and helping to put broken families together.  He not only spoke from the point of view of a professional, but also spoke from his experience as a survivor of sexual abuse. 

The conference also offered six workshops throughout the day on a variety of topics including, how best to support traumatized LGBTQ+ youth, prosecution, and advocacy strategies from a sex trafficking survivor’s perspective, understanding sibling sexual abuse and how integrated, multidisciplinary response can enhance positive outcomes, challenges faced by human trafficked survivors of color pursuing justice, and risk assessment of child pornography offenders.

In addition to the educational components, a large element of the conference is to ensure attendees within the multidisciplinary fields of child protection, medical and mental health, and law enforcement connect with each other to share best practices and build relationships to further assist child victims and their families.  Although the conference was virtual, Children’s Cove used a new conference technology, Whova, which allowed participants to interact with other attendees with virtual meetups, ask speakers questions and engage with other participants while attending sessions. More than 360 people participated in the conference, a 60 percent increase in attendance over the last conference.  

“While the ability to connect in person was sorely missed, we are happy we could provide this opportunity to the true champions for children who have been working tirelessly for child victims, in some of the most difficult circumstances over the last year.” Gallagher reflected discussing the results of the conference.

Children’s Cove is planning to host its 20th Champions for Children’s Conference next year in person.                                                                                      



Children’s Cove, a department of Barnstable County, has been the Cape and the Island’s Children’s Advocacy Center since 1997. Children’s Cove provides coordinated and comprehensive multidisciplinary services to child victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, witness to domestic violence and child sexual exploitation and trafficking. To learn more visit