February 2018

Time to Love some Learning
February may have you in the mood for love... We encourage you to love yourself, your family and the children and youth in your life by joining us for for learning, support and fun! Taking care of yourself strengthens your ability to care for others, so add these great events to your calendar:

Reducing Anxiety in the Classroom: Tools and Strategies for Families and Educators  Anxiety can be a serious challenge for children and youth, and its impact on school performance can be significant. Join Licensed Professional Counselor Corliss Gillespie for parenting tips and suggestions for your child's individualized education program (IEP). Learn how to discuss your children's anxiety with teachers and counselors.  We will practice relaxation techniques at home as well as in the classroom to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Learn to recognize and prepare for times of high stress, and to prevent meltdowns at school. Monday, February 5 from 6:30 - 8 PM. REGISTER HERE.

Formed Families Forward Annual Professional Workshop -  From Trauma to Resiliency: Building Trauma-Informed Schools and Communities will be Friday, April 6 in Fairfax. National trauma expert Dr. Elizabeth Meeker will present an interactive workshop covering the principles of trauma-responsive care and student social and emotional health, with a focus on strategy implementation. LEARN MORE HERE.

Our 5th annual  Spring Forward Family Fun Day for foster, adoptive and kinship families will be Satuday, April 7 at Providence Community Center near the Vienna Metro station. Exclusively for foster, adoptive and kinship families, this easy day of learning and fun includes activities for children and youth, workshops for caregivers and parents, food and a terrific fun fair. REGISTER NOW.
Middle School, High School and Beyond: programs for tweens, teens and young adults

Calling all middle schoolers, get your skills on with a free 6 week Life Skills training at Sherwood community center in Fairfax city.  Sessions are Wednesdays 5:15- 6:45 PM starting January 31. Register through Fairfax City Recreation HERE.

Connect with other teens and young adults at our ongoing twice-monthly Tuesday evening Stronger Together support groups. Enjoy free pizza dinner, share your story, struggles and strengths, and help others. A parent/caregiver group meets at the same time.  Learn more about our groups HERE.

Youth and young adult writers and artists- here is your chance to show off your talents! The Virginia System of Care needs a new slogan and a new logo. Contest winners get $500 towards their education! Entries due March 1 so get your creativity on!  Learn more HERE.

Ready to lead? The Virginia Family and Youth Leadership Summit on April 14 features middle school, high school, and parent and caregiver tracks. This free day-long event in Midlothian, Virginia kicks off with a keynote by Dr. Allison Sampson Jackson on Resiliency through Connection. Learn more and register HERE.

Get Empowered at the I'm Determined Youth and Parent Summit. Applications are now open for the June 13 -15 Summit held at JMU in Harrisonburg. Learn more HERE and apply before March 9.

Q & A: Enrolling Kin in School

Q: This month's Q & A shares information provided by attorney Becky Wolozin, with the Immigrant Advocacy Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center. Earlier in January, Ms. Wolozin presented a session on "What Legal Paperwork Do Kinship Caregivers Need?" The information was very helpful. For those unable to attend, we provide a summary and links to resources here.

For situations involving informal kinship care, such as when no custody order from a court has been issued, kin caregivers may be able to use two important paperwork options. 

First, for school enrollment when parent is not able to care for the child and the child is living with a relative, school divisions generally require a notarized affidavit signed by the parent. The affidavit allows the child to be enrolled in the division where the relative resides. These affidavits look different by school division, so check with the enrollment or registration office first. Specifics about the verification that schools can require can be found in Virginia Code Section 22.1-3. 

The other important paperwork approach involves use of a Power of Attorney. Generally, parents can complete a Power of Attorney if they are unable to make desisions on behalf of their children.  Typically used in situations that are considered temporary, POAs can give authority to a kin caregiver for a variety of needs including educational and medical decisionmaking. POAs may not impose the same legal obligations to care for a child as a custody order might.

The Legal Aid Justice Center has  Introduction to Powers of Attorney and Instructions for Power of Attorney guidance documents that can be helpful to parents and kinship caregivers. 

In addition, kinship caregivers who are caring for immigrant students and children of immigrants may benefit from Dream Big, an education law practice advisory from the Legal Aid Justice Center.

All kinship caregivers and professionals work to support kinship families may find additional resources at our Formed Families Forward kinship webpage

For Fairfax county families, new information about the Kinship Family Institute is now available HERE. 


 Fall in Love with New Knowledge!

January 31- Becoming an Active Member of your Child's Individualized Education Program Team, hosted by Arlington Public Schools Parent Resource Center, Arlington.

February 1- Graduation Requirements and Diploma Options, hosted by Loudoun County Public Schools Parent Resource Services, Ashburn.

February 5- Reducing Anxiety in the Classroom: Tools and Strategies for Families and Educators, hosted by Formed Families Forward, Fairfax.

February 5-  Immigration Updates for Service Providers, daytime presentation for service providers by Legal Aid Justice Center, Arlington.

February 7-  Executive Functioning Problems: What's a Family To Do? Hosted by The Arc of No Va, at Henderson MS, Falls Church.

February 10- Youth Mental Health First Aid, training hosted by Abiding Presence Church, Annandale.

Febuary 10- Super Saturday Transition Fair, hosted by Fairfax County Public Schools Parent Resource Center, Fairfax.

February 13- Parenting Tips to Help Your Anxious Student, hosted by CHADD of Northern Va, Annandale.

Febuary 14- Executive Functioning Skills: What's the Big Deal? Hosted by Loudoun County Public Schools Parent Resource Services, Ashburn.

February 21-  Relationship Smarts, a Life Skills Group for Youth in Foster Care, hosted by Fairfax County DFS, Fairfax.

February 21-  The Gift of Limits: Setting Behavioral Expectations for your Young Child, hosted by Alexandria City Public Schools Parent Resource Center, Alexandria.

February 22- Adoption Assistance Benefits and Eligbility webinar, presented by NACAC.

February 27- For Dads Only Parent Support Group, hosted by The Arc of Greater PW, Woodbridge.

March 7-  Teaching Children Essential Social Skills, hosted by Prince William County Schools Parent Resource Center and The Arc of Greater PW, Woodbridge.

April 6-  From Trauma to Resiliency: Building Trauma-Informed Schools and Communities professional workshop, hosted by FFF, Fairfax

April 7- 5th annual Spring Forward Foster, Adoptive and Kinship Family Fun Day,  hosted by FFF, Fairfax.

April 14-
 Family and Youth Leadership Summit
, hosted by NAMI of Virginia, Virginia Family Network, Midlothian.

May 14-15- VDOE and PEATC Advocacy Symposium, Staunton.

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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