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Laura A. Ornelas, LCSW

Laura has been working in the field of adoption and foster care for 20 years, and has been instrumental in the startup of multiple programs throughout California. Originating in Los Angeles County, she has advocated for the rights of foster and adopted children and families on county and statewide levels, and educated professionals across the country about the effects of ruptures in relationships and best practices in child welfare. In addition to her work with NCAP, she currently serves as the Director of Family Service of Santa Monica, a service of Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services in Los Angeles.

Laura spent the first decade of her work immersed in all angles of child placement and adoption, and has worked with children of all ages, specializing in the birth-to-5 population – as well as with widely diverse families, with a focus on relative caregivers and Latino family systems. Transitioning to mental health in 2004, Laura served as the Regional Director of Mental Health Services for Kinship Center for eight years, during which she designed and oversaw specialty mental health clinics for children who had been adopted and/or were being raised by relative caregivers. Having studied with the leaders in attachment- and trauma-informed care, she created a powerful clinical model rooted in relationship-based, experiential healing.

Laura is a seasoned trainer to professionals and parents, and an author on the work of her mental health clinics, including Effectively Addressing Mental Health Issues in Permanency-Focused Child Welfare Practice (Child Welfare Journal), Attachment Through the Senses (Fostering Families Today) and numerous white papers, including Childhood Trauma: A Multi-Dimensional Approach and Yoga as Trauma Treatment for Children. She also is a contributing curriculum developer for ACT: An Adoption & Permanency Curriculum for Child Welfare and Mental Health Professionals, and Pathways to Permanence 2: Parenting Children Who Have Experienced Trauma and Loss.

Consulting Areas

Laura is available as an expert trainer, as a clinical consultant on a range of issues, and as a consultant on post-adoption and permanency programs, as well as on permanency-competent mental health services for children and families.