Rhode Island Family Court Judicial Conference

RI FAMILY COURTIs It Mental Health or Medical? PANDAS/PANS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infection/Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome)

Thursday, October 7, 2021

The Family Court was created to focus special attention on individual and social problems concerning families and children. Consequently, its goals are to assist, to protect, and if possible, to restore families whose unity or well-being is threatened. This court is also charged with assuring that children within its jurisdiction receive care, guidance, and control conducive to their welfare and the best interest of the state. The Family Court also has jurisdiction over matters relating to delinquent, wayward,
dependent, neglected, abused, or mentally deficient or mentally disordered children.


  • RI Family Court Judges and Magistrates
  • DCYF’s legal team
  • CASA (court-appointed special advocate) attorneys and volunteers
  • Staff at the Child Advocate’s office and attorneys from the Public Defender and Attorney General’s office.
  • Administrative supervisors and legal counsel from the Family Court
  • School staff connected to attendance matters

Hosted by:

  • Chief Judge Michael B. Forte
  • Richard Merola, Associate Justice
  • Magistrate Angela Paulhus


  • Can Infections Really Trigger Neuropsychiatric and Behavioral Disorders? Understanding the Biological Basis for Autoimmune Attacks on the Brain – Craig Shimaski, Ph.D., MBA
  • The Pediatric Assessment, Treatment and Intervention of Children with PANDAS/PANS Symptoms – Melissa McCormack, M.D.
  • PANDAS/PANS Effects on Caretakers and Research Results of Special Education Population – Margaret Chapman, CNS, BC
  • The Educational Impact of PANDAS/PANS – Emily Klein, Education Specialist & Gabriella True, President of ASPIRE
  • Parent Panel – Melissa Glynn-Hyman, LISCW  & Melissa Giampietro, Special Educator & Jon Giampietro, Senior Vice President, TACO & Karen Fidler Smith, Special Educator


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