December 2016
Season's Greetings
Gratitudes & Go-To's for Families

Happy December! The holiday season has arrived. The month brings opportunities to express appreciation, help others in need, and celebrate family and community traditions and rituals. Sometimes for families formed by foster care, adoption and kinship care, new traditions are born!
The December holidays can also bring unwelcome stress to formed families. Recollections of past holidays in other settings and with other caregivers can stir anxieties in some children and youth. Long school holiday breaks can disrupt routines, and seasonal travel may add stress for children and adults alike.

Here are several free and low-cost family-friendly regional events that may offer some holiday cheer:

Cruising Through the Conflict training on
Monday, December 5
6:30 - 8 pm

Just in time for the holidays!
Whether around the IEP meeting or family dinner table, many of us struggle wi
th conflict in our personal and professional lives. Join two professional mediators for a free Cruising through Conflict: How Harnessing Brain Chemistry can Tame Tough Conversations free
training, Monday, December 5 at FFF offices in Fairfax.

Q & A:

Toys for Children with Special Needs

Q: In this season of gift-giving, do you have suggestions for good, safe toys for children who have disabilities? Our relatives often buy expensive toys for our adopted twins, who are both on the autism spectrum. The kids usually don't know how to play with them and then it can be awkward with the gift-givers!

A: Choosing toys appropriate for a child's developmental level can be tricky. A good rule of thumb is to choose toys that are at, or slightly above, where your child is functioning. Consider the child's interests, as well as the physical aspects of the toy: Will your child be able to operate the switches and components of the toy? Is it sturdy enough? Can a basic toy be made more appealing and age appropriate by adding decals or texture?

Here are some great resources for choosing the right toys for children with special needs:

Watch FFF's Facebook posts the second week of December for more disability-friendly toy and gift suggestions and links.

Wrapping up 2016 with Local Events and Trainings

December 3-
Virginia DSS Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System conference call info session, hosted by NewFound Families

December 5- Cruising through Conflict: How Harnessing Brain Chemistry can Tame Tough Conversations
training hosted by FFF, in Fairfax.

December 5- Virginia's Medicaid Disability Waivers Redesign lecture at McLean Bible Church, Vienna.

December 6- Parental Rights in the Special Education Process with VDOE's Gloria Dalton, hosted by the Arc of Greater PW, Woodbridge.

December 9-
Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool, morning workshop hosted by Fairfax County Public Schools Parent Resource Center, Dunn Loring.

December 13- Next regular meeting of Stronger Together peer support groups for youth/young adults and parents/caregivers, at FFF, Fairfax.

December 14- Middle School Connection: Moving From Elementary School to Middle School with an IEP training, hosted by Loudoun County Public Schools Parent Resource Services, Leesburg.

January 19, 2017- The Power of Play: A Relationship-Based Approach to Improving Behavior workshop hosted by Loudoun County Public Schools Parent Resource Services, sponsored by FFF, Ashburn. FLYER here.

Anytime!- Organization, Rewards and Success on-demand webinar hosted by Virginia's Parent Educational Advocacy and Training Center (PEATC)
Support Formed Families this Season

There are many ways to help foster, adoptive and kinship families. We at Formed Families Forward directly served over 300 family members and professionals last year through training, consultation, and support groups. We reached hundreds more by sharing resources in person, email, and online. If you missed GivingTuesday, no worries! Check out the many ways to support the work of Formed Families Forward with your gift of treasure or time.

Federal employees can also contribute through the Combined Federal Campaign, FFF is #91668. Thank you!

Yo, Youth!
Leaders Wanted!

Teens and young adults, listen up! Some great opportunities to build your leadership skills are here and now:
  • Project LIFE and Virginia Department of Social Services are seeking applicants for the Virginia Youth Advisory Group. The youth advisory group is for youth in foster care and alumni who are willing to provide input on foster care regulations, policy, guidance, and practice concerns, while also building advocacy and leadership skills. The first two meetings will be January 21-22 and March 18-19 in Charlottesville, VA. Apply for the Youth Advisory Group here.
  • YouthMOVE Virginia invites youth to its northern Virginia Advanced Youth Leadership training weekend, February 11-12, 2017 at FFF offices in Fairfax. Meals and transportation costs are covered. Join other teens and young adults who care about mental health and flex those leadership muscles! REGISTER HERE.

A Flurry on Facebook

We have been busy posting and sharing on Facebook and are thrilled to now have over 300 followers! Like us on Facebook and get the latest events, information and resources just for formed families. Did you miss the new research report on Executive Function? Or the opportunities to advocate for children, youth and families? Like us and you won't miss a thing!

Formed Families Forward provides training and support to northern Virginia families formed through adoption, foster care and kinship care who are raising children and youth with special education needs. We also serve professionals who work with our families. Consultations and most trainings are free of charge to parents and caregivers raising children and youth with special needs.

Moving Formed Families to Better Outcomes

Reach us at, or call (703) 539-2904.

Kelly Henderson, Ph.D., Executive Director
This project is supported in part by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Opinions expressed herein are those of the project and do not necessarily represent the position of the U.S. Department of Education.
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