September 2017
Fall-ing into Family Support

School bells have begun to ring across the region, signaling transitions back to school for many children and youth and launching new routines and opportunities for families. This fall, we hope parents and caregivers can make some time for personal learning and growth.

The whole family is welcome at our Fall Family Movie night on Friday, September 15 in Fairfax city. A light dinner is served to all at 6 PM. At 6:30 children head to a G-rated movie and supervised child care while parents, caregivers and older youth screen the documentary
Moment to Moment: Teens Growing Up with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Following the film, therapist and FASD expert David Perry, LCSW will join us for reflection and discussion about raising teens and young adults with prenatal exposure to alcohol and drugs. The event is free! Learn more and sign up HERE.

On September 21, we are pleased to host a free evening training Helping your Child Succeed in Virginia High Schools: Understanding Alternative Assessments for Standards of Learning (SOLs) for Students with Disabilities. When available accommodations for the Standards of Learning exams just aren’t enough, there are alternatives students with disabilities can access. Learn how alternatives to the SOLs can be made available when a student;s disability prevents them from demonstrating their knowledge sufficiently to achieve the verified credits needed for an Advanced Studies or Standard Diploma.
Don't miss this opportunity to learn more about the Virginia Substitute Evaluation Program and other options. Register HERE.

September is National Kinship Month

This month, we take time to honor the daily work of grandparents, aunts, uncles, other relatives and close family friends who care for children and youth as kinship caregivers.
See the Virginia Kinship Care Month proclamation HERE.

Fairfax County Kinship providers are invited to help guide the work of a new Kinship Famly Institute by completing an online or phone survey HERE.

ormed Families Forward has a Kinship Care Resources webpage with links to resources including information about enrolling kin in Virginia schools. And remember, we offer free consultation, training, and support groups to kinship caregivers. Contact us!
Feedback on Federal Special Education
Regulations extended to September 20

As we announced last month, President Trump's administration ordered a review of many current regulations, including those that guide delivery of services and supports under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The U.S. Department of Education is seeking input on regulations that may be appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification. The comment period has been extended to September 20.

Parents, caregivers, other family members and professionals interested in commenting can view sample comments developed by the National Coalition of Parent Centers, HERE.
Support for Teens and Young Adults

Q & A: IEEs- Independent Educational Evaluations

Q: My grandson's school evaluated him for a learning disability but once the results came back, we were told he did not qualify as eligible for special services. When the school psychologist went over the testing she did, we felt some of the test results were not right. They did not even test his math issues. Do we have to rely on the school's tests? I cannot afford a private psychologist!

A: As Formed Families Forward talks with parents and caregivers across the state, we find that few families are aware of their right under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to an independent educational evaluation (IEE).

This safeguard is an important one for families to know about, especially at initial evaluation and reevaluations.

An IEE is defined in Virginia regulations as "an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner or examiners who are not employed by the" school system (8VAC20-81-10). Parents and parenting caregivers have the right to request an IEE at public expense if they disagree with an evaluation component made by the school.

Once a parent makes the request for an IEE at public expense the school "without necessary delay" must take one of two actions: ensure that the IEE is provided at public expense, or initiate a due process hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate.

In most cases, schools will provide the requesting parent with information about where IEEs can be obtained and criteria for IEEs, and will cover the costs of the evaluation. Some schools offer parents a list of private, licensed pr
actitioners with whom they contract for IEEs. Parents may choose from that list or choose another, as long as their choice meets the criteria the school uses, such as the qualifications of the examiner.

The school may ask the reasons for the parent's objection to their evaluation. An explanation is not required and the school may not "unreasonably delay" providing for the IEE or initiating a due process hearing if they deny the request for an IEE (8VAC20-81-170 (B)).

While this may seem a bit confusing, IEEs can be an important tool for families to use if they have concerns about the evaluation conducted by the school. Because of their family, social and educational histories, some children in formed families may be particularly challenging to assess accurately. Evaluation by specialists familiar with the unique needs of an individual child may be critical to gleaning accurate assessment and other data.

Learn more about IEEs HERE.

Fall for some new learning!

September 7- Strategies for Fostering Healthy Self-Esteem and Resilience in Children and Adolescents with Rachel Bailey, sponsored by SCAN of Northern Va, Alexandria.

September 8 (morning)- Resources for Individuals with Dual Diagnoses: Navigating Mental Health and Brain Injury Service Systems, hosted by The Arc of No Va, Falls Church and by webinar.

September 8 (morning)- Introduction to Executive Functioning hosted by Fairfax County Public Schools Parent Resource Center, Dunn Loring.

September 8 & 9 - 2017 PEATC Parent and Youth Empowerment Summit, hosted by the Parent Educational Adocacy and Traning Center, Williamsburg

September 9-
Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) Hosts a Back-to-School Event, Fort Belvoir. Open to active, reserve, and retired service members and their families for all branches. Register by Sept. 6: or 703-693-7195

September 12- Lecture- Executive Functioning: Strategies to Help Orchestrate your Life, hosted by CHADD of No Va and DC, Annandale.

September 13- Release of 2017 State of Grandfamilies in America Report and reception, Hosted by Generations United, Washington, DC.

September 15- Family Movie Night and screening of Moment to Moment film at FFF, Fairfax.

September 15 (morning)- Autism Research Symposium, presented by Virginia Tech, Falls Church.

September 21- Autism Services and Resources in LCPS and the Community.
Hosted by LCPS Parent Resource Services, Ashburn.

October 5-
Love and Logic Basics, hosted by FFF, Fairfax.

October 13- Collaborative IEP Meetings: Parents as Partners, hosted by Fairfax County Public Schools Parent Resource Center, Dunn Loring.

October 14- Loudoun County Public Schools Mental Health and Wellness Symposium: Navigating the Path to Student Wellness, Leesburg.

October 28 - Dyslexia Conference, sponsored by Arlington Public Schools, Arlington.

October 28- ADHD and Screen Time: Turning Problems into Solutions, hosted by ADHD Resource Group of No Va and CHADD, Alexandria. Ticket fee.

November 9- Ensuring School Success for Students with ADHD: How New Federal Guidance Impacts Your Child with FFF and CHADD, Fairfax.

November 10-12- Project LIFE Statewide foster youth and young adult Conference, Hampton.

November 17- Family Movie Night- Bernie Mac, Kinship and Me, hosted by FFF, Fairfax.

November 18- Circle of Support conference, sponsored by The Arc of Greater Prince William, Woodbridge. FFF will be there!

Supporting the Support!

Formed Families Forward is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting adoptive, foster and kinship families. Check out our new introductory video and learn more about who we are and the families we work with. FFF does its best work when informed by you, the foster, adoptive and kinship families and professionals who walk the journey every day.

Help us step into our future. As always, we invite ideas from families and professionals about training approaches and topics. Email your suggestions to us HERE.

We also welcome new Board of Directors candidates to help take our organization into the future. Learn more about our Board and complete an application today!

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Let us know of items, events, resources we can share with our community.

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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