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September 2015
Honoring Kinship Families

September is National Kinship Care Month. More than 9 percent of Virginia children and youth live in households headed by a grandparent or other relative who is not a birth or step-parent. Nearly 67,000 grandparents are responsible for their own grandchildren under age 18 (US Census, 2013).

Children and youth raised in kin care are more likely to experience learning and behavioral challenges. Grandparent and other relative caregivers often face financial, child care, housing, emotional and other hurdles. This month we are reminded of the contributions of kinship families in providing stable, safe and loving homes for children and youth.

Formed Families Forward has a new fact sheet on rights and responsibilties of kinship caregivers raising children with special needs. Depending on type of informal or formal care arrangement, a kin caregiver may or may not be able to make important educational and other decisions

Help honor this important month with suggestions from the Kinship Care Month Guide: Strategies for State Action.

Virginia's House of Delegates issued a House Joint Resolution designating September as Kinship Caregivers month.
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Don't Miss These Training and

Support Events


Formed Families Forward has a great line-up of trainings and activities for fall, all designed to address academic, emotional and behavioral needs of our families

Raising Middle or High School Students? Will They Be Ready to Graduate?

Virginia offers several diploma options for all students and students with disabiltiies. The courses students take in middle and high school can impact their ability to earn certain diplomas, so start planning early.

On August 25, Virginia Department of Education Transition Specialist Marianne Moore presented a timely and very helpful webinar overview of recent changes that impact graduation options. The webinar and her presentation slides are now available for replay and viewing on our Resources webpage.


Help for FASD and other brain-based conditions
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Q: My wife and I have a 16-year-old son whom we adopted from Russia when he was 2 years old. He has been diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and we have really struggled to find appropriate services that meet his mental health and safety needs. He has been in residential treatment facilties twice and now is back home again. What suggestions do you have for us to support him into early adulthood?

A: Formed Families Forward hears from many families raising children and youth who have been impacted by prenatal exposure to alcohol and drugs. The impact of the brain damage caused by such exposures is significant, often resulting in serious learning, behavioral and social/emotional problems that can last into adulthood.

September 9 is International FASD Awareness Day. The FASD Center for Excellence offers some great resources on FASD awareness and intervention. At 2 pm eastern, tune into the free Healthy Baby, Healthy Live Provider Perspectives and Roles in Addressing FASD webinar .

If FASD, TBI, Autism or PTSD impact your family or clients, consider joining FFF for our 4-session Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Other Neurobehavioral Conditions: Understanding a Brain-Based Approach. Led by national FASD expert Melissa Elligson, the four Thursday evening sessions October 15- November 5 will cover fundamentals of the neurology of these conditions and research-based practices to address them. First and last sessions will be on site in Fairfax; October 22 and 29 will be conducted via Webinar.


Finally, our webpages on FASD and other brain-based conditions and on transitions to, through, and after high school life feature great resources.

"Fall" into these Great Regional Events

Learn and connect at these upcoming trainings and events sponsored by other organizations and agencies:

September 10 - Next Arlington County Special Education PTA meeting, Arlington

September 17 - Housing Options Futures Planning program with the ALLY program, Leesburg

September 18-19 - PEATC Parent and Youth Empowerment Summit, Fair Lakes. Get the Summit flyer HERE.

September 19 - November 14- The Transition Series from The Arc of Northern Virginia, Falls Church

September 21 - Fairfax County Community Dialogue on School Attendance, Fairfax.

September 24- Celebrating Family: Moving Kinship Forward symposium for professionals, Fairfax

September 29-30- Building a Trauma-Informed Nation, in DC and via Webcast.

October 7 - The Message of Behavior, hosted by Loudoun County Public Schools Parent Resource Center, Ashburn.

November 5- 1st annual Adoption and Foster Care conference, hosted by Connecting Hearts, the Deborah J. Johnson Foundation, in Richmond.

November 14- FutureQuest conference, GMU Fairfax Campus

November 13- 15- Project LIFE Youth Conference for foster youth and young adults, Bristol.

January 26-29, 2016- School Resource Officer, School Security Officer, & School Administrator Training: Building a Team to Support Students and Ensure School Safety, sponsored by Va DCJS, in Ashburn
Calling all youth & young adults - Stronger Together Peer Groups start October 6

Our Stronger Together peer support group for youth and young adults and co-timed parent/caregiver group resume in October. Teens and young adults age 14-22 who have lived experience with special education, mental health, courts, or child welfare are welcome to join the professionally-led, peer support groups. The groups are free of charge (we even serve dinner!) and meet in Fairfax city.

Let us know if you might be interested in joining the group and getting "stronger together"!
Thanks to some volunteer time from a fabulous high school DECA marketing leader, we are Tweeting like crazy! Follow us!


We post new resources and our latest news on Facebook and Twitter daily! Like us and follow us and be in the know!

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.

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Moving Formed Families to Better Outcomes

Reach us at www.formedfamiliesforward.org, info@formedfamiliesforward.org or call (703) 539-2904.

Kelly Henderson, Ph.D., Executive Director

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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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