July 2018
"Can You Hear Me Now?"  -  Tools for Improving Home/School Communication

As parents and caregivers, we know the challenges to being heard by professionals in our children's lives. At times, it may seem our expertise and experience as our child's first and best advocate is discounted and our family voice is disrespected or dismissed altogether. This frustrating experience is truly a missed opportunity to improve outcomes for children, families and systems alike.
Summer may be a chance for families to take a moment and reflect on what strategies for home and school communication have worked well and where there is need for change. Here are some resources families have found helpful:

Six steps to success in communicating with your child's school, offered by the  Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Education:

  1. Be mindful of your emotional pressure gauge as you work with your child's school.
  2. Prioritize and plan.
  3. Actively listen to understand the other person's perspective.
  4. Clarify your statements if others are confused and ask for clarification in return.
  5. Have options in mind and offer them for discussion, as needed.
  6. You're only human; acknowledge the efforts of others, apologize if due, and keep conversations civil.
Families can also develop written information about their student to share with educators and other professionals before school even begins. Children and youth can help create these brief communcations and reflect their own preferences and goals. Check out these information-sharing tools:
Youth & Young Adults, Learn, Lead and Support

Teens and young adults have strengths and experiences to share with others who face challenges. 
  • Get skills! Did you know the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Youth program offers free training and job placement supports?  It's true! Learn more about the program HERE.
  • Get empowered! Did you know there are free advanced youth leadership trainings offered around the state by YouthMOVE Virginia? The next one is October 6-7 in Roanoke and funds are available for travel. Learn more HERE.
  • Get and give support! Did you know Formed Families Forward sponsors twice-monthly FREE support groups for youth and young adults age 14-22, and separate groups for parents/caregivers?  Our Stronger Together support groups  will restart in October. Let us know if you might be interested.
  • This summer, drop in teen peer support groups are available at the Fairfax Falls Church Community Services Board's Merrifield Center on Thursday evenings. Learn more HERE.

Pictured above are some of our great
Stronger Together
youth and young adult peer
support group participants, Spring 2018

Q & A: Independent Living

  How can I help my granddaughter be more independent? She has just graduated high school but does not seem to have many skills in managing her own affairs and relies on family, friends and others to do a lot for her on a daily basis.

A: July is a great time to talk about independence! 

Youth who have completed high school with an Applied Studies Diploma may continue to receive specialized instruction and other services from their local school division until age 22. Ask about these options.

In northern Virginia, post-high school young adults may be eligible for training and supports through their area Community Services Boards (CSBs). Find your CSB HERE.  

The Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) provides assessment, training and employment supports to some individuals with disabilities. Find your DARS office HERE.

Adults with more significant disabilities may benefit from connecting with a Center for Independent Living. Centers for Independent Living (CILS) are community-based, cross-disability, non-profit organizations that stemmed from the Independent Living Movement The ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia is our local CIL and offers training, peer support and other services. Other Virginia CILS can be found HERE.

Remember, we at Formed Families Forward are here year round, so feel free to reach out if we can help with resources or other support!

Join us for Facebook LIVE sessions focused on transition tips at 7:30 PM on Monday, July 16 and Thursday, July 19.  

Cool down with regional trainings and events!

July 12- Family First Prevention Services Act 101 webinar, by Voices of Virginia's Children

July 16 and 19- Transition Tips Facebook LIVE with Formed Families Forward 
at 7:30 PM each evening.

July 27-29
- Camp FACES at Camp Highroads,  family camp hosted by NewFound Families, Middleburg.

August 8- Northern Virginia Developmental Disabilities Housing Fair, Fairfax.

September 17- Back to School: Surviving Re-Entry 2018 webinar presented by Formed Families Forward.

September 18- October 23-  LifeSkills Training for middle school students, provided by Formed Families Forward, Herndon. Registration opens soon!

October 4-6-  National ATTACh conference, in Virginia Beach.

Stay in the know, all summer long. Follow Formed Families Forward on 


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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