First 5 Mendocino Hosts Children’s Mental Health Conference


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 25, 2024

Contact: Megan Carson, Community Education Manager

(707) 513-0583 |

Ukiah, California – On March 6 and 7, First 5 Mendocino will host its annual two-day children’s mental health summit, State of the Child, at the Ukiah Valley Conference Center, 200 S. School Street. The free event provides an opportunity for Mendocino County professionals who work with foster youth, foster parents, child caregivers, and community members to engage with nationally recognized and local presenters to gain valuable insights into children’s mental health, trauma-informed care, and strategies for promoting resilience in children and youth.

The event will feature keynote presentations, interactive sessions, and networking opportunities, providing a comprehensive platform for learning, collaboration, and professional development. The March 6 agenda will focus on how to support foster children and those at risk of entering the foster care system. The March 7 agenda will offer training for foster parents and caregivers, as well as professionals who work closely with foster youth and their families.

Distinguished presenters include:

Dr. Tina Payne Bryson

Dr. Bryson is a renowned psychotherapist, speaker, and best-selling author who specializes in child development, neuroscience, and parenting. She is the co-author of numerous acclaimed books, including NY Times Bestsellers The Whole-Brain Child and No-Drama Discipline, which have revolutionized the way parents and professionals understand and support children’s emotional and cognitive development. Dr. Bryson will provide a full-day, interactive learning experience on Wednesday, March 6 titled, “The Power of Showing Up.”

Dr. MaryCatherine McDonald

With a wealth of experience as a research professor, author, life coach, and advocate for trauma-informed care, Dr. McDonald brings a unique blend of academic insight and practical wisdom to the summit. Her work focuses on empowering individuals and communities to destigmatize trauma, build resilience, and foster mental well-being. Dr. McDonald will present the opening keynote address on March 7 titled, “Unbroken: The Trauma Response is Never Wrong,” which includes practical strategies for healing from trauma and integrating traumatic experiences in healthier ways.

Georgie Wisen-Vincent, LMFT, RPT-S

Wisen-Vincent is the current Director of the PlayStrong Institute. She is a leading expert in Play Therapy, child development, and mental health, and a dedicated advocate for the needs of children and families. With a passion for promoting holistic approaches to mental health, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the summit. She will speak on resilience-building play, offering hands-on tools for implementing play with children.

Gaelin Elmore

Elmore brings a unique perspective to the summit. As a former NFL football player who overcame significant challenges while growing up in the foster care system, he draws from his personal journey to deliver a compelling presentation titled, “The Power of Choosing Belonging.” He focuses on the profound impacts of supportive relationships and the impact belonging has on the mental and emotional well-being of children. His inspirational story and insights offer a meaningful testament to the transformative power of resilience, connection, and the human spirit.

If you work with foster youth in a professional capacity in Mendocino County and would like to attend the conference, which is part of First 5’s State of the Child Training Series, you can register by emailing

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