May 2015

May: Foster Care Month and Mental Health Month
This month is an especially important one for families formed by foster care, adoption and kinship care connections. During National Foster Care month, we recognize the role that all of us play in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care. The U.S. Children's Bureau offers great resources for foster parents and kinship caregivers HERE

Mental Health month and its signature green ribbons remind us of the importance of fighting stigma, improving services, and educating others about the impact of mental illness. Children and youth in formed families are about 3 to 4 times more likely than peers to be impacted by serious emotional and behavioral challenges. The National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Federation of Families For Children's Mental Health provide activities and information for the month.
Former and current foster youth and families- Don't miss this session...
May 18, 6:30 pmGreat Expectations: Educational & Academic Pathways for Current & Former Youth in Care session.
Come get the scoop on Virginia's Great Expectations program for current and former foster youth. This program supports young adults in educational and other academic paths- an amazing program for foster youth, including those adopted with special needs from foster care. Two young adults and the NVCC program advisor will share this awesome program! in Fairfax, free.  LEARN MORE! 
Summer Camps

Q: We are looking for some day camps or other activities to keep our three grandchilden busy this summer. Two of them have been impacted by trauma and need accomodations to be successful in social situations. How can we find a camp that will work for them?

A: It can be difficult to find summer camp programs that truly "get" the needs of children with disabilities. 

Fairfax County Public Schools Parent Resource Center has a comprehensive listing of summer camps for children with special needs. Other sources include Best Special Needs Camps and Very Special Camps. 

Once you have found a camp that meets the interests of your child and family, schedule an interview with the director or special needs coordinator. Questions might include:

  • What's the age range of campers?
  • What's the staff-to-camper ratio?
  • How old are most of the counselors?
  • What type of certification do the counselors have?
  • Do staff members have a background working with kids with special needs?
  • Are staff supervised by professionals who have experience and credientials in special education, social work, or other disability-related fields?
  • Does the camp adopt a positive behavioral approach that establishes and supports positive expectations from the start?
  • How are camp staffers trained to handle behavioral and emotional problems?
  • What's the turnover rate? Do kids and staff come back?
  • What's the camp's philosophy? Does it fit with your goals for your child?
  • What's the camp's transportation system like?
  • If physical accessibility is an issue, what's the layout of the camp? What provisions has the camp made (or can it make) for wheelchairs or crutches?
  • If your child needs a special diet, can the camp provide appropriate meals? If not, can you provide food for your child?
  • What kind of medical and nursing staff is available in the infirmary and during what hours? Can the staff administer any medications your child needs?
  • What's the procedure if your child develops a complication related to his or her medical problems? How far is the nearest hospital? If your child needs specialized treatment, is it available at that hospital?
  • Can you speak with a veteran parent or caregiver of a child with disabilities who has attended the camp?
(adapted from 

The next meeting of the  Stronger Together  Youth & Young Adult and Parent/Caregiver groups is May 21.

June 25 - 28National Foster Parent Assocaiation Conference in Norfolk. FACES of Virginia Families is helping to bring NFPA to Virginia. Great sessions and activities for the whole family (registration fee).

July 3-5FACES Famly Camp at Camp Highroads in Middleburg (registration fee). 
Supporting the emotional needs of our children

Tomorrow, May 9 is the 2nd annual Community Conversation on Teen Stress: Fostering Wellness and Resilency at Hayfield Secondary School. There will be great keynote presenters on topics of emotional intelligence, and academic success and performance perfection. Many breakouts cover a range of topics of help to families and educators. Formed Families Forward is presenting a breakout about our Stronger Together groups at 1pm. Come by and say hello. Learn about the conference HERE.

Also take note of the a Town Hall meeting Tuesday, May 12. The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has released a report giving recommendations from four Transformation Teams created in 2014 addressing adult behavioral health, adult developmental services, child and adolescent behavioral health, and justice-involved services.
The recommendations may be viewed  HERE and are open for public comment until May 31, 2015.
Comments can be submitted via the  Transformation Team web page until May 31, 2015.

Town Hall Meetings will be held across the state. The northern Virginia meeting is Tuesday, May 12 at Ferlazzo Human Services Building, 15941 Donald Curtis Drive Suite 200, Woodbridge, Virginia 22191 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.


Scholarship for Mental Health First Aid


The Fairfax County Community Services Board is offering scholarships to attend the populat Mental Health First Aid training free of charge. Learn more HERE.
CASE Northern Virginia office moves

The Center for Adoption Support and Education (CASE) has moved its northern Virginia office. Find it at 

7857 Heritage Dr., Ste. 300
Annandale, VA 22003

Contact CASE at 703-256-3820

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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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