March 2016
As we 'spring forward',
make your plan to join us for

Family Fun Day

Let us treat your foster, adoptive or kinship family to a day of support, learning, food and fun! REGISTRATION is now open.

Our third annual Spring Forward will be Saturday, April 2, starting at 9:30 AM, at the new Providence Community Center in Fairfax. The Center is walkable from the Vienna metro station and bus transit; there is plenty of parking as well.

Children age 3 and older will enjoy a morning of supervised activities and games. Nursery care is available.

KEYNOTE: Adults and older youth will hear keynote presentation Garbage Bag Suitcase: A Survivor’s Guide to the Long Term Impact on Children in Care by author and former foster youth Ms. Shenandoah Chefalo.

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES with VDOE: Following the keynote, youth and young adults will join Ms. Chefalo for a workshop just for them. Parents, caregivers and professionals participate in a listening session with staff from the Virginia Department of Education.

FOOD and FUN: Families enjoy lunch together. A fun fair with games, prizes, face painting, balloon creations, and arts and crafts concludes the day. Cost is only $5 per person, age 3 and up. LEARN MORE and REGISTER HERE.

It would be FOOLish to miss this...
Professional Workshop:
Trauma-Informed Coaching

Register now
for our April 1 half-day training for social work, counseling, education, and other professionals. Professional coach and Garbage Bag Suitcase author Shenandoah Chefalo will guide participants through trauma-informed coaching principles & techniques, informed by her personal experiences in foster care.

Thanks to our co-sponsors, the
Licensed Professional Counselors of Northern Virginia and the ADHD Resource Group of Northern Virginia. Thanks to LPCNV, counseling CEUs are available at no additional fee!
Good News about Fostering Futures

Our friends at Voices for Virginia Children and FACES have been working so hard with the Virginia General Assembly this session in Richmond. They report there is great news about Fostering Futures, legislation which will provide critical housing and other supports for young adults age 18-21 in foster care.

It appears that the General Assembly will approve the necessary budget for this much-needed program. LEARN MORE about Fostering Futures on the Voices blog.

Letting Our Kids
Take Charge:
Student-Led IEPs

Q: My nephew, 16 years old, lives in another state and has an IEP. My sister says he is chairing his IEP meetings and I would really like my two adopted daughters, 14 and 17, here to do the same. How can I help them and get the school to allow them to chair their meetings?

A: Student-led individualized education programs (IEPs) have been around for a while but happily are getting a lot more attention in Virginia! The idea is that a youth actively participates in the development of his/her IEP and takes a leadership role in decision-making about his/her future. As in all IEPs, the team includes students, parents/ caregivers, special educators, general educators, support staff, and administrators. Students are typically provided training and self-advocacy skill building to prepare them for leading their IEPs.

Student engagement levels are individualized based on the age, needs, and abilities of each student.

Schools and school divisions in our region are providing more opportunities for students to assume this role. The Virginia Department of Education is encouraging schools and families to use the practice. For example, student-led IEPs are mentioned as a best practice in this state Tips and Strategies for Increasing Parent and Family Involvement in Virginia Schools.

Student-led IEPs can also be helpful in preventing and resolving disputes between schools and familles. On March 15, tune in and learn more from national experts during a free webinar
Creating Change: Student-Led IEPs as a Dispute Resolution Option.

Ask your school about options for student-led IEPs and support efforts to provide the training and skill development teens need to take charge of their own education planning!

Kinship Treatment Foster Care Summit

The Foster Family-based Treatment Association Virginia Chapter (FFTA-VA) applied for a grant from the FFTA National to host a statewide summit on March 30 and 31. The Summit is designed to encourage awarenss of kinship treatment foster care and increase public-private partnerships to develop a plan that will assist Virginia in implementing a strategy that will support kin as treatment foster parents.

Kinship Treatment Foster Care Summit will be held at SunTrust Center, 919 E. Main St., Richmond, Virginia 23219. Registration is free for this event.

March Madness - a Treasure of Local Trainings & Events

Luck into some trainings and events from FFF and our partners and friends!

March 16- Transition Planning (in Spanish) at Manassas City Public Schools, presented by PEATC.

March 16- Executive Function Challenges for Children with Learning Disabiltiies,
sponsored Decoding Dyslexia, at Paxton Campus, Leesburg.

March 16- Preparing for the Transition from High School to College, Arlington

March 17 - Watching for Irritiability in Children with ADHD, Ashburn

March 22 and 23 - Northern Virginia College Tour for high school juniors and seniors in the foster care system,
sponsored by Project LIFE.

March 26- Sensory-Friendly Movies at AMC Tysons and Woodbridge.

April 1 -
Helping Those Who Hurt Without Harming: Trauma Informed Approaches for Coaching Children & Families professional workshop, at FFF in Fairfax.

April 2- Spring Forward Family Fun Fair, hosted by FFF at Providence Community Center, Fairfax

April 4- First meeting of Support Group for Families of Children with Mental Health Challenges, sponsored by Dominion Hospital, in Ashburn. Other support groups are available through NAMI of Northern Virginia, throughout the area.

April 6 - Public Safety Considerations for Children with Autism and Intellectual Disabilities, Alexandria

April 9 - Fairfax County Public Schools Special Education Conference, Alexandria

April 9 - Family and Youth Leadership Summit, a free training conference for parents, caregivers, and youth hosted by NAMI of Virginia, Richmond

May 5 - Fun Ahead: Creating Your Family's Summer Bucket List webinar hosted by FFF

May 7- Beyond Consequences LIVE,

May 13-15- Project LIFE Statewide Conference for Youth,


Beyond Consquences LIVE coming to Northern Virginia

National adoption and attachment expert Heather Forbes is coming to No Va - May 7 in Burke. More HERE .
Calling Fairfax Parents and Caregivers!

Are you a Fairfax or Falls Church parent or caregiver of a child or youth with mental health needs? The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Policy and Management Team (CPMT) is seeking parent representatives!

Do you have a child or children with behavioral health issues (currently under 18, or now an adult whose symptoms emerged when under 18)? Have you experienced navigating mental health and related systems in Virginia? If so, you can help make a difference for our youth and families by serving on this important committee. For more information, click HERE. To apply, email

Foster, adoptive and kinship family members are encouraged to apply!

We share these and other opportunities of interest to formed families on our FFF Facebook page.
LIKE us!

on't forget our Stronger Together peer support groups for youth and young adults age 14- 22 and for parents and caregivers meeting twice a month. Enrollment for our groups is open, so learn more HERE.

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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