Track: All

Join this session to catch up on all the latest happenings on the Family First Prevention Services Act. As implementation kicks off this fall, hear from a panel with a range of expertise on Family First implementation for states, communities, and community-based providers. Learn about opportunities to engage in prevention services work, challenges states are facing with implementation, ideas for how to prepare for upcoming changes, and potential gaps that need to be addressed by future policies.

Participants will receive an update on key family first implementation news, legislative proposals aimed at easing the transition to Family First, and strategies to help your organization and community prepare.  

Learning Objectives: 

  • Learn more about Family First Prevention Services Act implementation
  • Develop an understanding of various legislative proposals aimed at easing the transition
  • Understand the implications of these public policies on your work and develop effective planning strategies


  • Lisette Burton, vice president of national advocacy and public policy, Boys Town
  • Jody Grutza, principal, Grutza Consulting
  • Daniel Heimpel, president & founder, Fostering Media Connections
  • Ann Leinfelder Grove, president and CEO, SaintA
  • Ilana Levinson, senior director of government relations, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities   
  • Sarah Sparks, consultant, Public Consulting Group

Lisette Burton
Vice President of National Advocacy and Public Policy
Boys Town

Lisette Burton is the Vice President of National Advocacy and Public Policy for Boys Town, where she advocates for effective federal and state policies related to child welfare, juvenile justice, education, and health. She joined Boys Town in 2007 as a family teacher caring for girls in foster care and boys committed to the juvenile justice system in a family-style, community-based, therapeutic residential program. 

Prior to Boys Town, Burton worked in North Carolina as a program director at a therapeutic residential wilderness program and later as a community organizer focused on quality early childhood education and parental involvement in schools. Her foundational experiences with children and families included work in Detroit as an Americorps volunteer at a day treatment center for court-involved youth and as a coordinator for a school-based early intervention program. 

Burton currently serves on the Public Policy Committee of the Family Focused Treatment Association, the Act4JJ campaign of the National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition, as a board member and the Public Policy Committee chair for the international Association of Children’s Residential Centers, and she is a mayoral appointee to the Washington, D.C. Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. Burton regularly facilitates conversations and shares policy and practice insight and expertise with local, state, and national audiences.

Burton received her bachelor’s in science from the Eberly College of Science at Penn State University. She earned her law degree at the University Of Maryland Carey School Of Law, where she was a Leadership Scholar and Schweitzer Fellow, a pro bono law clerk representing children with special needs, a student attorney at the National Association of the Deaf, and a legislative intern with the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. 

Jody Grutza
Grutza Consulting

Jody Grutza is a savvy strategist and proactive change champion offering more than 15 years of expertise in planning strategic initiatives and mobilizing high-level teams to execute them seamlessly.  She has a track record of delivering on national system and policy overhauls as well as leveraging an established network of relationships with executive and legislative government leaders.

Most recently, Grutza co-lead strategic planning for the Virginia Department of Social Services along with completing two federally mandated State Plans for the Commonwealth. She drafted the five-year Child and Family Services Plan (CFSP) that justifies Title IV-B funding and provides a five-year strategic plan along with the Annual Progress and Services Report (APSR). Grutza is also leading strategic growth for BAYS Florida as they diversify their business model and expand services in juvenile justice and child welfare in Florida and beyond. In addition, she is an active grant reviewer for the federal Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau.

Grutza headed the administration, strategic planning, and execution of a county-wide community-based care contract responsible for the safety and well-being of more than 4,000 children as the executive director of Eckerd Connects - Hillsborough. In this position, she oversaw a more than $70 million contract with the Florida Department of Children & Families. She maximized service capabilities for at-risk children and guided the staff and community partners in supporting families in cases requiring high-level intervention.

Previously, as the deputy director of strategic planning and innovation at the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services, Grutza steered the strategy roadmap to overhaul the DCFS system. This plan, partially in response to the 26-year standing federal BH Consent Decree in Illinois, received unprecedented support of and coordination with the Plaintiff’s Council and Court Appointed Experts.  She also assisted with the governor’s health and human services transformation.

Daniel Heimpel
President & Founder
Fostering Media Connections

Daniel Heimpel is the president founder of Fostering Media Connections, a national nonprofit news organization dedicated to issues facing vulnerable children youth and their families, an educator and an award winning journalist. He has taught graduate students on the intersection of journalism and child policy at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, U.C. Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, and the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice. In addition, through the Journalism for Social Change Massive Open Online Course, offered on the edX learning platform, Heimpel has trained thousands of students globally.

Heimpel has written and produced stories for Newsweek, The Los Angeles Daily News, LA Weekly, The Seattle Times, The Oprah Winfrey Network, KPCC, and KCRW among many others. This coverage has garnered him journalism awards from the Children’s Advocacy Institute, The Los Angeles Press Club, The North American Resource Center for Child Welfare, The National Association of Social Workers, The Child Welfare League of America and California Mental Health Advocates for Children and Youth, and The California Social Work Archives among others.

Ann Leinfelder Grove
President and CEO 

Ann Leinfelder Grove has served as CEO since February 2018 but has worked at SaintA for close to 30 years in a number of senior leadership roles, including executive vice president and COO. Over her tenure, she has led every agency program and administrative area, with a passion for innovation and change management. SaintA has grown and changed significantly, from a residential treatment center to a diverse human serving organization with a deep commitment to community partnership and trauma informed care. Beginning in 2008, Leinfelder Grove championed the program implementation of SaintA’s trauma informed care model, Seven Essential Ingredients (7ei), including in child welfare, where translational research has demonstrated improved outcomes through the use of 7ei-based, trauma informed program practice. 

Leinfelder Grove is involved in Milwaukee community initiatives such as Scaling Wellness in Milwaukee (SWIM) and in Wisconsin Department of Children and Families discussions to create innovative solutions to support families. As CEO, her strategic vision has enhanced SaintA’s partnerships in the community and advanced a culture of equity and inclusion at SaintA.

Ilana Levinson 

Senior Director of Government Relations 
Alliance for Strong Families and Communities 

Ilana Levinson is the senior director of government relations for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. In this role, she represents the Alliance and its strategic action network to Congress, federal agencies, and applicable state government. She also coordinates activities and partnerships with fellow human service organizations and policy coalitions in Washington D.C. to advance aligned goals.  

Prior to joining the Alliance, Levinson served as senior director of advocacy and public policy for YouthBuild USA, a national organization focused on reconnecting low-income, out-of-school youth to education and job training. Under her leadership, the organization more than doubled federal legislative support and increased annual federal investment by $12 million, to $90 million annually. She also cofounded the Reconnecting Youth Campaign, a national advocacy campaign focused on creating one million reconnection pathways for opportunity youth each year. She served as a legislative assistant from 2006-2011 in the office of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), focusing on furthering legislation to expand healthy food access to low-income residents, the promotion of green collar jobs, and efforts to re-engage out-of-school youth in education and employment opportunities. Levinson also spent time working in city government in New York City, organizing hiring events for victims of Superstorm Sandy in severely affected neighborhoods.  

She received her master’s of public and nonprofit administration from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and her bachelor’s in social relations and psychology from Michigan State University. 

Sarah Sparks
Public Consulting Group

Sarah Sparks, a consultant at Public Consulting Group, Inc (PCG) located in its Indianapolis office, and has 15 years of child welfare experience. 

Since joining PCG, Sparks has worked on a variety of projects providing consulting, technical assistance, and subject matter expertise in a vast array of child welfare topics. Sparks is currently working with the Commonwealth of Kentucky Department of Community Based Services (KY DCBS) as the project manager of its Medicaid services initiative with the goal of leveraging Medicaid funds to increase service access for children in residential care. In this role, she developed and currently manages a comprehensive project plan facilitating decision-making with executive leadership at DCBS and providing relevant expertise in funding systems. She also provided support for the state’s provider engagement efforts surrounding the implementation of this initiative by facilitating a provider survey and focus groups to assist DCBS in future planning. Sparks is also currently assisting KY DCBS in planning for Title IV-E Family First Prevention Services as an early implementer. She partnered with KY DCBS to complete a gap analysis of their current system to determine necessary changes needed to successfully claim Title IV-E prevention funds for eligible candidates. Sparks is now assisting with development of a roadmap to implement changes to address identified gaps.

Sparks is the former Assistant Deputy Director of Child Welfare Services at the Indiana Department of Child Services where she had oversight of the Community Based and Community Mental Health Center Contracts. She has extensive knowledge of child welfare services and programs, as she managed service coordination for Indiana’s foster and adopted children. Sparks is skilled and experienced in collaboration with service providers and stakeholders, development and implementation of service programs, and development of policy and procedure. She started her career on the front lines working directly with families as a family case manager in Indiana. Sparks holds a master’s in leadership and strategy and bachelor’s in psychology from Marian University.