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April 30, 2020







“On the other side of a storm is the strength that comes from having navigated through it. Raise your sail and begin.”  ― Gregory S. Williams

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.

Thank you to all who provide foster, kin, and respite care throughout Vermont.  You are our heroes!
National Foster Care Month gives us the opportunity to highlight once again how critically important it is to move our foster care system in the direction of being more of a support to families and less of a substitute for them. Moving the foster care system to a place where it really is a true support to families requires very significant systemic change. It goes to the very values and beliefs that we have about families whose children may need foster care. It requires time, commitment, and a significant investment of effort to make that change.

We believe it’s important to do that because we’ve seen so much success when parents and resource families work together to give children what they need. This increases the chances that families can be reunited and allows children to thrive—even when it’s not possible for them to live under the same roof as their parents for some temporary period. We must work hard to eliminate some of the misconceptions, such as parents whose children need foster care are inherently bad or that resource families should not have relationships with parents of the children they are caring for.

We know that when those relationships exist, parents have the opportunity to strengthen their ability to care for children in safe ways, reduce the trauma of separation, and increase chances for reunification. 
Children’s Bureau Associate Commissioner Jerry Milner shares his goals and priorities for National Foster Care Month 2020 in excerpts below from an interview with Child Welfare Information Gateway. The full recording of the interview with Dr. Milner will be available at


helpful news and information

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:


The Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” addendum to the Emergency Declaration still allows us to enjoy Vermont’s outdoors while staying close to home. We thank the public for their cooperation and understanding during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Keeping trails, parks, and other public outdoor spaces open for appropriate public use is challenging with limited staffing and all state and municipal agencies are doing their best to balance the requirements of the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order with Vermonters’ need for exercise and stress relief. We want folks to have healthy, close-to-home options and – in part --the public’s behavior will determine if that remains possible and prudent.

Here are tips to recreate locally and stay safe outdoors during this public health emergency:

  • Recreate locally: walk on your street or a local wood lot as opposed to hopping in the car to visit a favorite spot. If you must drive someplace, please limit the distance from home to ten miles, and only drive with members of your household. You can find information on local spots on and
  • Respect mud season conditions: some trails may be closed as is common this time of year. Mud season closures will be updated regularly on Please consult prior to starting your hike. For general guidance, see 
  • Access State Lands: Currently, state lands (State Parks, Forests and Wildlife Management Areas) remain open and accessible to the public for outdoor recreation, although most facilities like restrooms are currently closed and not being sanitized. Some roads and trails are gated this time of year and closed to all but foot traffic.  The Long Trail System on state lands is currently closed.  Visit Green Mountain Club for more information and updates.  Other trail closures may be necessary in the future.  Please check often for updates. 

We do ask that you follow commonsense behaviors including honoring all signage, treating public areas with respect and giving people space at gathering points like parking areas and scenic overlooks, for example. Visitation and use will be monitored, with closures possible based on overcrowding or additional orders from health agencies. If a parking lot is full, or too many people are gathered at a location, please find an alternative place to recreate.

Off-season (now through official opening) camping in Vermont State Parks has been suspended as a result of the Governor’s Executive Order that went into effect on March 25, 2020 at 5 pm.

  • Minimize risk to others: Go out only if you’re feeling healthy, have not been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, and/or have not recently traveled from a location with a CDC-issued travel advisory.
  • Engage in low-risk activities: Now is not the time to try something extreme and end up in the hospital, taxing an already overburdened health care system.
  • Don’t crowd: Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting, including the outdoors. Outdoor crowding isn’t any better than indoor crowding. Just because you’re outside doesn’t mean it’s safe unless you are continuing to practice appropriate social distancing, good personal hygiene, and avoid touching your face until you can wash your hands. This includes finding an alternative place to recreate if the area you choose is already a crowded space.
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If those aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, handrails, and playground equipment.
  • Please leash your dog! They are members of your household and need to keep their social distance as well (most standard leashes are 6 feet in length).
Home But Not Alone:

A Family Connection Series


Wednesdays - 1 to 1:30 pm 

Take a 30 minute break from your day, and check in with other kin, foster, and adoptive families via Zoom video call.  Each FREE, 10 – 15 minute mini-lesson will be followed by a discussion of how to use these ideas in your home. Join us for as many topics as you’d like. You can register right up till the time of each call.  You might be home but you are not alone!
  May 6th: Don't Obsess about the Mess
  Sharon O'Neill
   Often adults don't like the "mess" that can happen in the process of doing art with children, so they avoid expressive art opportunities because of their own discomfort.  Making art is healthy and important developmentally for all children but can come with some challenges for those who have a trauma history. Caregivers will learn tips on how to make a safe space for creative expression.
Join the May 6th Conversation
May 13th: The Importance of Play
Jennifer Jorgenson
Homeschooling, dishes, telework, instacarting...the new normal is full of new responsibilities. But it's also full of new opportunities to play.  Come hear the hopeful news about the power of play to shift challenging dynamics in your home and learn how you might take up your new responisibilities with a lighter heart. 
Join the May 13th Conversation


news from around the state

Send us news of what's happening in your community and district.
We'll post highlights here.  Email to:
Please contact your district office at: for information on resources and services available in your district.


It is with mixed emotions that we say farewell to our colleague Priscilla White, Child Victim Treatment Director at Family Services has announced her retirement after 13 years with DCF.  Priscilla had originally planned to leave state service at the end of April, but due to our current state of “all hands on deck” she graciously agreed to stay in her role until May 22nd.

Priscilla has spent a large part of her career as a child advocate and superhero of prevention, the science of chronic stress , trauma and resilience.  She worked as the director at Our House, the Child Advocacy Center in Washington County, then came to DCF first in the Commissioner’s Office under Steve Dale, and finally to Family Services in her current role as Child Victim Treatment Director.

We will miss Priscilla’s wisdom, key collaboration skills and her amazing adult education/ training ability, but mostly on behalf of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Team, we will miss her supportive, witty, gritty advocate self, as well as her practical Vermonter self who said early on, “why don’t we just go upstream and figure out how all these kids are getting into the river in the first place?”  

Join us in thanking Priscilla for her dedicated work as we wish her a happy retirement!

Ellie Breitmaier, LICSW 
Director, DCF FSD Domestic & Sexual Violence Team
Waterbury, VT


After over 20 years of service to the State of Vermont and the children and families of Windham County, Lois Howland is retiring. She has decided to enjoy life and spend time with her family (including her cats) and in her garden! I am very thankful to have worked with Lois for 20 years. When I first became a social worker, Lois provided me with much training and I learned a great deal from her just by shadowing her during home visits and listening to her interviewing children.

Lois is a very compassionate and caring woman which was always evident to me during the times we have teamed cases. She has put in many long days, nights and weekends over the years and has tirelessly worked to ensure the safety and well-being of the children and families assigned to her. Lois’ work has made a difference in so many families lives and for that, and many other reasons, I have great admiration for her!  It has been a pleasure working with Lois and please join me in wishing her well in the next phase of her life (the BEST OF ALL phase) – retirement!

Lois’ last day of work is April 30, 2020.

Lisa Bruce/District Director


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 send an email: with details.  Thank you!


helpful news and information in support of youth in foster care

Vermont's Youth Development Program

The Youth Development Program (YDP) is running a Virtual Youth Advisory Board (YAB) every Thursday from 2-3pm. 

 Last week YDP’s virtual YAB decided that we would start a virtual Movie Club (similar to a Book Club). Join the YDP virtual YAB meetings to pick movies YOU want to watch, make friends with like-minded peers, and support each other and our community through this pandemic. 

 The Movie Club pick of the week is.... The Hate U Give (Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what's right 2018). 

 Contact Kayla @ for more information on how you can join the Movie Club and YDP's virtual YAB.-- 

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

virtual events of interest

for vermont foster and kincare families




Free Websites For Online Learning
“This free resource provides your children with 20+ days of exciting articles and stories, videos, and fun learning challenges. Children can complete them anytime, in any order. They can work on their own or together with you and your family”
Abc mouse is offering free services through access codes given to schools. Request that your school complete the quick form to give your children access.
            Blog dedicated to activities for toddlers.
“Thanks to donations, our K-5 curriculum – including 400 hours of digital lessons with on-screen teachers and supportive remediation – is available for free during this time through no-cost individual accounts. Kids, teachers, parents, and caregivers can access all our top-rated content 24/7, including paper-based materials that can be used without a device.”
“The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s award-winning children’s literacy website, Storyline Online, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations. Readers include Viola Davis, Chris Pine, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Costner, Annette Bening, James Earl Jones, Betty White and dozens more.”
The engaging, curriculum-aligned math platform loved by over 50 million students, teachers and admins. No cost, ever. Easily motivate 1st to 8th grade students to learn and practice math. Accessible at home or in class!”
“Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. We tackle math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and more. Our math missions guide learners from kindergarten to calculus using state-of-the-art, adaptive technology that identifies strengths and learning gaps. We've also partnered with institutions like NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, The California Academy of Sciences, and MIT to offer specialized content.”



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. 


Please note: Front Porch Forum messages are not the 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:


The Department for Children and Families, Family Services Division extends our sincere and deepest gratitude to all the people serving children, families, friends, and communities on the front line.  We especially want to acknowledge the role of foster care providers who have been identified as "essential persons" by Governor Scott during this demanding time.  You have stepped up in ways that no one could have predicted would be asked of you. Thank you!

As of right now, we are able to report that there have been no children in foster care who have tested positive for COVID-19.  

With schools out and children at home, some already stressed families find themselves at a tipping point.   Please do your part to support your vulnerable neighbors.  Call them to check in. Offer to run an errand if you are already going out.  If you are worried about child safety, as always, please call the Child Protection Hotline at 1(800) 649-5285.

The Family Services Division, and all of you who are part of our family of caregivers are working together to ensure the safety of Vermont's children and youth.  If you find yourself struggling in any way, please know that supports continue to be available.  Please call your local district office if you have needs or questions. 

In these hard times for family and community, it is especially important to step up for families, children, and youth who are in need of a safe, stable home.  Please contact Joan Rock at 802-760-0594 or or visit us on the web with the address.

Find out how you can become a foster, kin or respite care provider.  You may contact your District Office. Here is a link: http//  Or, you may visit our website at:  Thank you.


Thank you for your generous support!

To the many individual workers, community groups, businesses, faith organizations, teachers, and others whose generosity toward our communities during this demanding time - especially to children and youth in foster care - has made a tremendous difference in their lives, thank you!  We appreciate you!
There are over 1100 children and youth in foster care in Vermont.  During this demanding time, we continue to seek and need care providers to support children and youth who have experienced separation, trauma and the uncertainty of their stability at home.  Thank you to everyone who has continued to support children and youth in foster care.  We appreciate you more than we can express!  And, should you know of someone who might provide foster care, please contact your District Office.  Here is a link to the district offices statewide:
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:
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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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