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October 29, 2020









“Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”
—David Ogden Stiers

Look for Fostering Vermont each week and be sure to send your news, events and other items of importance and interest to:  THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: TUESDAY, NOON.


Learn how sharing your experience in foster care and adoption can inspire change and help others. #NationalAdoptionMonth #YouthVoice

Adopting a Teen Through Foster Care
Here is a helpful Q&A about adoption of teens. There are many children in Vermont who are eligible for adoption through Foster Care. Many of these children are older, some are teens who potentially may  never find their forever families.  This article explores some of the questions about adopting an older child and what the children themselves think about it.

Can I adopt a teen?

Though most people think about babies when they think about adoption, there are many older children and hundreds of teens who wait for a family. Most of them have been in foster care for a considerable length of time; many have faced multiple moves and great losses.

Until fairly recently, teens in foster care were rarely considered for adoption. Thankfully, that has now changed. It is now recognized that it is never too late for someone to join a family. In fact, some individuals are adopted as adults.

When these teens in foster care are no longer the responsibility of the government, they become extremely vulnerable. Amongst the kids we see on the streets, homeless, panhandling, or involved in prostitution, many grew up in foster care and have little or no family support when they leave foster care. Most teens who have been adopted thrive in their new families and say it was the best thing that ever happened to them.

Like all of us, these kids need stability, a sense of belonging, and opportunities to develop and grow. These things are all far more likely if they are part of a family.

What sort of people adopt teens?

All sorts of people. Some have never parented before; others have seen their children grow up and leave home and want to continue being parents. Parents considering teen adoption will need to be strong, resilient, and, most importantly, totally committed to making it work

Do the teens want to be adopted?

Yes. Here are some comments from waiting teens on what not having a family feels like:

"I truly don't feel like I've ever been loved ... there's a gaping hole in me."
"I've been in and out of foster care since I was little ... I've moved so much, I don't even remember the names of half the people I have lived with."
"I've really struggled with the idea of family ... trying to explain to people that I just don't have one."
A study on adolescent adoptions by the University of South Carolina, interviewed teens who had been adopted. This is what they said:
"It's the most important thing that happened to me."
"I've got a family and found love. I have everything one hopes for. I fit in a family."
"I have a normal life now. I have a driver's license, and I drive. I have friends, and I get to go on overnights. There is no comparison to what my life is now and what it was before."
"Before I was adopted, I was the property of the state ... just being adopted feels better."
"If it weren't for my mom, I wouldn't be where I am today. In the beginning, I had given up. I really tested her, especially in school. There was no way I'd be where I am today without being adopted. The best part is the relationship I have with my mom now."

What is the process for adopting a teen?

All prospective parents must complete a homestudy and an educational component before adopting a child. The homestudy is conducted by a social worker who interviews you and your family over several weeks. The social worker is not looking for perfection. The homestudy is not a test. The social worker is interested in why you chose adoption, your knowledge about adoption, how you have dealt with life's struggles (in particular, infertility, or grief and loss issues), and how you plan to deal with adoption or cultural issues as they arise. The home study process can be an excellent opportunity for self-reflection, clarification, and growth. The educational component is also a legal requirement. This series of seminars or one-on-one workshops explores the challenges and issues that may arise during your life as an adoptive family.

Teens are Waiting Children Too!



reaching out to communities statewide

New recruitment messages in support of critical needs in each district are launched on Front Porch Forum on a regular, continuous basis. If you know of a person or family, like yourself, who might be interested in foster care, please let your District office know and please subscribe to your community's Front Porch Forum.  Email:

Please note: Front Porch Forum messages are not stories of specific children but composite stories of children who may have been in our care. We use stories to illustrate the experiences of children and youth and to help find appropriate foster care for all. Do YOU have a story to share with us about your experience as a Foster parent? If so, email:

Here is  one of these messages:


Can you be there for him?

When a teen enters foster care, it's not only an adjustment to a new family; it's dealing with the loss he feels leaving what he's known his entire life. And even if that situation wasn't the healthiest for him, it was his family and he has a certain loyalty and love for them. For any number of reasons, his family may not be equipped to care for him; and so, we need caregivers who can not only become foster parents, sometimes, a teen is in search of a forever family through adoption.

Might you be someone who could consider adoption of an older child or teen?  If so, we would love to hear from you - or, from someone you know who you might consider caring for an older child.

Someone within your district service area will be in touch and will help you through the process of registering to become a care provider to a child or youth in need. Thank you!

Here's how to reach us!

You can also call your local Family Services District Office and ask to speak to the Resource Coordinator.


Contact the Vermont Department for Children and Families, Family Services Division to find out more about caring for a child or youth in your community.  Thank you.   


helpful news and information from our VFAFA partners 

Here you will find notices of upcoming meetings, events, and news of special interest from our VFAFA partners. If you would like to suggest a topic or share news from your Parent Group, please email:  Thank you!

We wanted to take a moment to introduce ourselves as the incoming Leadership Team of VFAFA.  Our new President, Vice President, and Secretary were elected in September and took office in October.  We are all committed to working on continuing the good work of those who came before us while managing the challenges facing the organization moving forward.  Our primary goals are supporting and advocating for the interests of foster parents and families wherever possible as well as developing new and creative ways to support our organization financially into the future.

As your leadership team we wanted to tell you a bit about who we are and the diverse experiences that we bring to bear to support the work of VFAFA.  Our diversity starts at home - in that we live in four different districts (Chittendedn, Rutland, Barre, and Lamoille respectively).  We also have experienced kinship care, traditional foster care, and adoption in our families (some of us all three).  We have experience volunteering in our local community foster and adoptive groups as well as in larger advocacy and social justice organizations.  Two of us are social workers by trade, our treasurer is a whiz in accounting software, and we even have a homesteader to bring us back to practical guidance of the organization for our members.

Please feel free to reach out at any time!

Steve May, President
Kara Haynes, Vice President
Linda Couture, Treasurer
Lisz Pfeil, Secretary

VFAFA holds its Board of Directors meeting on the 2nd Tuesday of each month.  Members are welcome and encouraged to join these board meetings. Our next meeting is Tuesday, November 10th, from 7pm-9pm.

 During the Covid-19 restriction time VFAFA is meeting via online or phone. You can join the ZOOM meeting here:

Meeting ID: 858 2272 7984
Password: 288400
One tap mobile

Dial by your location:  +1 646 876 9923 

Meeting ID: 858 2272 7984
Password: 288400

In addition to the above information, you can always find a link on the VFAFA Facebook page.


helpful news and information

Youth Justice Practicum 2020
Centering Youth in Practice

Enrollment is now open for the 2020 Youth Justice Practicum (YJP). The inaugural YJP is designed to deepen practice and strengthen your skills working with Vermont youth who are involved with the youth justice system.
Participants will embark on a 6-week virtual educational experience to expand knowledge, develop lenses and practice the following:

Restorative Justice (10/20 & 10/23 1-3 PM)
Motivational Interviewing (10/27 & 10/29 1-3 PM)
Positive Youth Development (11/4 & 11/6 1-3 PM)
Harm Reduction (11/10 & 11/12 1-3 PM)
Transitioning to Adulthood (11/17 & 11/19 1-3 PM)
Deepening Practice (11/24 1-3 PM)
In order to earn the practicum certificate, participants must complete all 11 sessions. Sessions meet for 2 hours, twice a week. There is a maximum of 25 participants in the practicum.
Can’t make the commitment? The following sessions are also larger learning opportunities open to a wider audience:
Harm Reduction
Positive Youth Development
Transitioning to Adulthood
Register for the Youth Justice Practicum in LINC by 10/15/20 and you will be automatically enrolled in all six sessions. Alternatively, you can enroll in any one of the three single events open to all. Questions? Contact Tabitha Moore at or by phone at (802) 774-8657.

Adoptive, pre-adoptive, guardianship, kinship, and foster families will learn what it takes to thrive as a transracial/transcultural family—and develop parenting strategies. Whether you are parenting an infant, a child, or a teenager (or thinking about it) this workshop will further develop your awareness, knowledge, and skills, increasing your confidence and helping to make your family stronger.

Extended family members are encouraged to attend as well as anyone who is interested in transracial/transcultural parenting.

This virtual workshop is offered in 3 parts on Thursday evenings:
  1. November 5th, 7 pm - 8:30 pm
  2. November 12th, 7 pm - 8:30 pm
  3. and, November 19th, 7 pm - 9 pm
The final class includes a panel of adoptive parents and adult adoptees from transracial/transcultural families.

To register, click below:


3 Part-Saturday Morning Series - Adoptive Family Panel
Saturday November 7th, 14th, and 21st

9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Join us for this special 3-part series featuring video clips from a panel of Vermont youth and their adoptive parents, discussing issues important to them. Plan to attend all 3 sessions
(1) Talking about Adoption with Children and Youth
(2) The Tough Stuff: Talking About More Difficult Things
(3) Connections with Birth Families: How Youth Feel About It


news from around the state

Send us news of what's happening in your community and district.
We'll post highlights here.  Email to:
As we continue to shelter in place and remain safe from exposure to Covid-19, here are some helpful tips you and your family can use to make the experience less stressful.  As always, contact your District Office, should you need support during this critical time. Here is a link to our District Offices:
Please contact your district office at: for information on resources and services available in your district.


helpful news and information in support of youth in foster care

Vermont's Youth Development Program

The YDP Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is back (and at a new time)! Meetings are every third Thursday of the month from 3:30-4:30pm. The next meeting is on November 19th from 3:30-4:30pm. 

Youth Advisory Board #YAB

The mission of YDP’s Youth Advisory Board is to empower youth through advocacy, training, teamwork, and courage to make meaningful change in the foster care system. In each YAB meeting youth build connections with peers in Vermont with similar lived experiences, get involved in youth engagement activities, participate in the state-wide youth Movie Club, support YAB projects including the Alumni Network and Higher Education and explore the best ways to support each other and people in our community. 

 Alumni Network Project:

Group of former foster youth creating a support group for youth currently in foster care. The objective of the Alumni Network is to create the feeling of “someone on my side” for youth currently in foster care. The alumni network is currently working on creating more employment opportunities for alumni youth within the child welfare system (internships and hopefully full-time positions).

Higher Education Project:

A group of youth with lived experience within the child welfare system that believe “Every person who has been in foster care has opportunities to attain higher education and training.” The Higher Education Project is currently working on providing education waivers to cover the full/partial costs of education programs for youth and alumni who wish to pursue higher education. 

The new YDP youth interns are leading the Alumni Network and Higher Education project. Both interns are actively recruiting additional youth to help with each projects. If you know anyone interested in getting involved, please contact Kayla


Kayla Altobelli

Youth Engagement Coordinator
Youth Development Program
Washington County Youth Service Bureau
P.O. Box 627, 38 Elm St.
Montpelier, VT 05601

(802) 229-9151

events of interest
for vermont foster and kincare families

Not-So-Scary Night Hike Free
Fri., Oct. 23, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Wheeler Nature Park Swift Street Extension, South Burlington
Clad in weather-appropriate clothing, trekkers walk nature trails in the dark. Meet in the dirt parking lot at the trail entry with a headlamp or flashlight. No pets, please. 802-846-4107
Haunted Forest Free  Fri., Oct. 23, 4-8 p.m., Sat., Oct. 24, 4-8 p.m., Sun., Oct. 25, 4-8 p.m., Fri., Oct. 30, 4-8 p.m. and Sat., Oct. 31, 4-8 p.m. 3319 Route 116  3319 Route 116, Bristol
Pies, donuts, cider and a carved-pumpkin contest complement a spooky stroll hosted by the Brendon P. Cousino Med47 Foundation. Younger kids, 4-6 p.m.; older kids and adults, 6-8 p.m. 802-233-8334
Veterinary Science Free Online Fridays. Continues through Nov. 13
STEM-savvy high schoolers cover various aspects of veterinary medicine, including anatomy, physiology, diagnosis and treatment options. 802-651-8343

Halloween Howl Hayrides Sat., Oct. 24, 2-6 p.m.
North Beach Campground 60 Institute Road, Burlington
Spooky scenes spice up a tour of North Beach Campground. 802-864-0123

Hoots & Howls Sat., Oct. 24, 5:30-8 p.m.
Vermont Institute of Natural Science 149 Natures Way, Quechee
A guided tour takes costumed families to non-scary stations for nature-themed stories and activities. 802-359-5000
Bird Costume Contest Sat., Oct. 24, 11-11:45 a.m. and Sat., Oct. 31, 11-11:45 a.m.
Vermont Institute of Natural Science 149 Natures Way, Quechee
A lesson on the purpose of feathers leads to an ornithological costume parade. Live birds will be present. 802-359-3194
Owls in Myth & Legend Sat., Oct. 24, 1:30-2 p.m. and Sat., Oct. 31, 1:30-2 p.m.
Vermont Institute of Natural Science 149 Natures Way, Quechee
Dark omens or creatures of wisdom? Families explore the lore of owls. 802-359-3194 

Bennington's 72nd Annual Snowball Bazaar Online
Mon Oct 19th 9:00am - Thu Dec 3rd 9:00am
Online Event Location:  72nd Annual Snowball Bazaar 
Second Congregational Church, UCC's 72nd Annual Snowball Bazaar moves online this year. Shop our famous greens, seed wreaths, pet items, and more at

Acting For Grades 5 & 6 With Michelle Cox
Thursday, October 22nd, 2020 @ 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Southern Vermont Arts Center

For kids in grades 5 & 6. Students will build a solid acting foundation while working with other young actors in a safe, fun and non-competitive atmosphere. We will work to sharpen acting skills and create characters through improvisational games and scenes. This is a great class to gain confidence in actor instincts and choices. Class will be outdoors as much as weather allows and will run according to Department of Health guidelines for COVID-19 risk management. Scholarships available. Please contact Erin Kaufman at 802.367.1306 or for more information.

Science Story Time
Wednesday, October 21st, 2020 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
$Free for members, 14 for adults
Join us each week for Science Story Time – with a new theme each week as we read a story, explore an exhibition, and engage in hands-on activities specially chosen for preschool families.

Virtual Scavenger Hunt - Manchester, VT
Fri Oct 23rd 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Online Event Location:  Register Here! 
Attention Teens! Need something to do on a Friday night? Join us via Zoom for a virtual scavenger hunt, where only the fastest prevail! Registration required. For ages 12-18.


Thank you for your generous support!

Thank you to our many community partners.  We appreciate every Vermont community and individual for all the ways you support every child and youth in foster care throughout Vermont. Soon, the holiday season will be here. Can you support children in foster care with a gift or donation?  Our Recruitment & Retention Specialist and Resource Coordinator can communicate childrens' needs to you.  Thank you.

 Contact your District Office Recruitment & Retention Specialist and Resource Coordinator. Here is a link to our district offices:
For all newsletter inquiries, please contact: 

Are you a foster care provider who would be willing to speak with the press?  If so, we would LOVE to hear from you. From time-to-time, the Commissioner's Office receives requests for interviews. Perhaps your story may be one we could share? For more information, contact:
Copyright © 2020
Vermont Department For Children and Families, Family Services Division
All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
280 State Street HC1N Building B Waterbury Vermont 05671
Tel: (802) 241.0896
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