January 2018
Jump into 2018 and Resolve to Spend More Time with Formed Families Forward...

Kick off 2018 with some great personal and professional trainings, free at FFF offices, 4031 University Drive, Fairfax VA 22030.

Caregivers and parents, take an evening to recharge and master proven tools to beat the caregiving blues! Joy Koeppen, LCSW, will share her best tips. 6:30 - 8 PM on Monday, January 8. REGISTER HERE.

Kinship caregivers may face challenges in enrolling children and youth in schools. Join Just Children attorney Becky Wolozin for an afternoon session on school enrollment and other legal paperwork for kin caregivers raising children and youth, Tuesday, January 9 from 2 - 4 PM. REGISTER HERE.
Spring Preview... SAVE these DATES

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.

And 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.
Registration information for both events coming soon!

Youth and Young Adults: Resolve to connect!

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.

Q & A: Consent to Evaluate

I worry about the kinds of tests the school is wanting to give my grandson (who I am raising). They think he has autism. My son's school says I have to sign some permission forms so they can test him. Do I have to sign the forms?

Thanks for your question and for being careful about signing any consents without understanding them completely!

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), schools have a responsibility to identify children with disabilities who may be in need of special education and related services. As part of this process, the school should examine existing information about the child, such as previous testing, classwork, and observations made by staff.

When the school evaluates a child for a suspected disability, it may also want to collect additional assessments and other data. Any new tests and assessments must meet specific criteria. For example, they must not be discriminatory on a racial or cultural basis; they must be given in the child’s native language; and they must use valid and reliable measures administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel.

All of these requirements can be found in section 8VAC20-81-70.of the Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia.

The regulations are also very clear about parental consent (in your case, it sounds like you are serving as "parent"). For the first, or initial, evaluation for a disability, informed parental consent is generally required. Schools do not need consent to review existing data or collect new data that is collected of other students without consent. If the school still seeks to evaluate, they can use mediation or due process hearings to attempt to gain consent.

Note that for children in foster care or who are otherwise "wards of the state", rules for consent for initial evaluation may be different.

Finally, it is important to know that if a parent or caregiver does give consent for an initial evaluation, it does not mean consent is given for initial provision of special education and related services. That is a separate decision, usually with a different consent form (often that consent is on the Individualized Education Program document). Specifics about consent can be found in the Regulations at 8VAC20-81-60.

This can be pretty confusing! As always, ask questions about anything that is unclear and feel free to contact Formed Families Forward if you are unsure about your rights.

Fill those new

Calendars with Great Trainings & Events

January 8- Mindfully Managing Caregiver Stress: Proven Tools for Reducing Stress and Taking Care of Yourself, While Taking Care of Others, hosted by FFF, Fairfax.

January 8 - Tax Tips for Parents of a Child with Special Needs What You Need to Know, hosted by Access Ministry of McLean Bible Church, Tysons.

January 9- What Legal Paperwork Do Kinship Caregivers Need? Hosted by FFF, Fairfax.

January 9-
Help Your Child with ADHD and Yourself – Fresh Approaches to Better Parenting, hosted by CHADD of No Va, Arlington.

January 10- Trauma-Informed Care Workshop: Immigrated Youth, Families and Resiliency, hosted by Greater Prince William Trauma-Informed Network, Woodbridge.

January 10- What you need to know: Transitioning to Higher Ed for Students with Disabilities WEBINAR from the Center on Technology and Disability

January 10-
The Development of Speech, Language and Social Skills in Young Children, hosted by Alexandria City Schools Parent Resource Center, Alexandria.

January 12-
Executive Functioning: Strategies to Help Children Orchestrate their Lives hosted by the Fairfax County Public Schools Parent Resource Center, Dunn Loring.

January 16- Supporting your Child's Transition from PreK to Kindergarten, hosted by Arlington Public Schools Parent Resource Center, Arlington.

January 19- Identifying and Treating Anxiety in Children and Teens, hosted by the Fairfax County Public Schools Parent Resource Center, Dunn Loring.

January 23- Next meeting of The Arc of Greater Prince William Autism Support Group , Woodbridge.

January 24- Social Competence for Children with Autism or other Developmental Disorders, hosted by Loudoun County Public Schools Parent Resource Services, Ashburn.

January 24- ADHD and Behavior Management, hosted by The Arc of Greater Prince William and Prince William County Schools Parent Resource Center, Woodbridge.

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.

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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