View this email in your browser




November 12, 2020











"If you have the heart for adoption,
don't let fear stand in the way." 
-Doug Chapman

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
What Makes A Family

Adopting a Teen Through Foster Care

Voices of Youth

Young people can offer experience and valuable information about their own needs and the needs of their peers, which can help shape practices and programs. Here, you will find narratives written by youth formerly in foster care on the topics of family and home and videos depicting the benefits of adoption for older youth. You may share these firsthand accounts with  professionals, teens in care, and prospective adoptive families to help them understand why permanency and youth engagement are so important.

Sydney's Story

Sydney Martin, a 22-year-old nursing student, was first placed in foster care when she was 10, and was adopted by her forever family when she was 14.

As the family waited for the adoption to come through, Sydney chose a new first name for herself in anticipation of her new life. On her 14th birthday, Sydney’s family found a unique way to tell her that the adoption had been finalized.

“My family gave me a gift to open, and it was customized M&Ms that had my new name on the front and my initials on the back,” Sydney said. “We had been waiting and waiting for it to finally happen. I was really excited to finally be adopted and to know that I was staying for good.”

Growing pains

Of course, as Sydney and her family got to know each other deeply, there were some growing pains.

“When I was adopted, I felt like I already knew everything I needed to know,” she laughs. “That was not the case. It took a long time to realize that my parents were going to give me a better life and that they were trying to teach me and help me to understand important things that would help me later in life.”

According to Sydney, that learning took time—and consistency. “It took knowing they actually meant what they said when they said they were going to be there for me and love me.”

Accepting and celebrating differences

Sydney is biracial and her family is White. She advises families planning to adopt a child of another race not to pretend that this difference doesn’t exist and to be prepared for critical or naïve comments from others.

“You don’t want it to be the elephant in the room that you never talk about. There are people who think that it’s not right to be a biracial family. Be prepared for that, and you’ll get through it.”

Embracing a new life

Sydney also learned some new things about herself—especially about her emotions.

“I wasn’t very emotional at all before I got here,” she said. “Now I’m very emotional and more aware of how to deal with emotions: what they are and how they are appropriate, for instance. These are things that most people learn when they’re young—but I didn’t.”

One thing that helped Sydney and her new parents bond were the rituals of family life. Eating dinner together and going to church together—things Sydney had never done before—were very important to all of them.

The routines also helped her connect with her two older brothers. And her new family grew far beyond her mom, dad, and siblings—she also has grandparents, and an aunt, uncle, and cousin all living nearby. She and her cousin have become best friends.

Sydney’s family also encouraged her to develop her athletic skills—including cheerleading, track, and gymnastics. And they helped her set big goals for the future.

“I want to become a trauma nurse. That’s the big one. And I want to travel.”

But as Sydney—and those who love her—acknowledge, she has traveled quite far already.



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:


A home and a forever family - that's all she's asking for this holiday season.

When a teen enters foster care, it's not only an adjustment to a new family they have to deal with; it's the loss she feels leaving what she's known her entire life. And even if that situation wasn't the healthiest for her, it was her home and family and she has a certain loyalty and love for them.

For any number of reasons, her family may not be equipped to care for her; 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 might consider caring for an older child.

If interested, we'll put you in touch with someone within your district service area who will help you through the process of registering to become a care provider to a child or youth in need, and possibly, an adoptive parent. 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!

 VFAFA board members:

Steve May, President
Kara Haynes, Vice President
Lisz Graves, Secretary
Linda Couture, Treasurer (Returning)

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, December 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 Vermont Foster and Adoptive Families Facebook page.

We would like to expand our membership outreach.  VFAFA maintains a virtual community on-line through Facebook as a means to support community members.  To become a member of the Facebook page, go to Vermont Foster and Adoptive Families and click join.  

The following statement has been authorized by the VFAFA Executive Board in relation to the Supreme Court case heard  Wednesday, November  4, 2020, in Washington, DC: Fulton v. City of Philadelphia: 

Every American should be able to access the fundamental services of their government. Today, the Supreme Court of The United States is hearing a case: Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, which calls into question the ability of LGBT people to access Adoption and Fostercare services in Pennsylvania. We believe that this fundamental speaks to a much larger principle. We believe that the holding in this case will set the standard for LGBTQ people across our country. This case and its consequences will do nothing less than enshrine or block their ability to access a fundamental service of governmentnotably access to Fostercare and Adoption services.

We are issuing this statement today because we believe regardless of race, class, creed and religious faith. At its core, the court is considering a case which pits parties which would preclude participation in Fostercare and Adoption services on the basis of religion against the right of all taxpayers to be able to access Fostercare and Adoption services for all.

We together believe LGBTQ people make good parents, and they make good foster and adoptive parents regardless of whether they are in Pennsylvania or Vermont. LGBTQ people and their ability to access to Adoption and Fostercare services remains a public good. This is not simply a good for the parents who wish to foster or adopt children here in Vermont and children across America. This is a public good for families across Vermont and America; and most importantly, this is a public good for society writ large.

The right of LGBTQ people to establish families is protected under Vermont law, and should be the law of the land across all 50 states. There are hundreds of waiting foster children in need of placement today and creating barriers to their placement in safe and loving homes is not in their best interest.

While we appreciate the free exercise of religious faith in this case we believe that the free expression of religious expression is being used to short circuit access to a public service that all people ought to be able to access without regard to one’s ability to express their religious faith. Spirituality is important in grounding the well-being of our families and should not be used as a wedge to divide families. Especially at a time when drawing families together is in all of our best interest. Love is a universal value, not a statutory one. Providing access to basic services is a fundamental obligation of government without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.



helpful news and information

November 10, 2020

Dear Kinship Caregiver,
If you have provided full-time care for the minor child of a relative or family friend in the past two years, we want to hear from you!
Please take a few minutes to complete our online survey:

1.  Go to
2.  Click on the button that links to the survey. It should take about 5 minutes to complete.

Your answers will help us learn about:
•   You, your family, and the minor kin in your care.
•   The services and supports that have helped you.
•   The services and supports you could have used but did not get.
•   How to improve services and supports for all kinship caregivers in Vermont.

If you get multiple requests to complete this survey, please do it just once.  What you tell us is confidential and anonymous. Completed surveys will go to an evaluation team at the University of Vermont (UVM). They will combine your answers with those provided by other caregivers in a summary report. We developed this survey in partnership with UVM, with input from Vermont Kin as Parents, the Community of Vermont Elders, and DCF’s Economic Services Division.

If you’d like to get a paper copy of the survey or have questions about it, please contact Dr.
Valerie Wood, lead survey evaluator, at

We’d greatly appreciate getting your feedback. Thank you.

Barbara Joyal

Barbara A. Joyal, System of Care Unit Director
Department for Children and Families, Family Services Division
280 State Drive HC1 North
Waterbury, VT 05671-1030
Vermont Child Welfare Training Partnership



“Sexual Abuser Risk of Sexual

Harm to Children Assessments” 
using the ROSAC

RESCHEDULED for December 10, 2020.

Registration is still OPEN and available on SOV LINC**

Register for these trainings at:



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.


As soon as you begin fostering a child, and throughout the process, you are asked to attend several meetings.  Shared Parenting Meetings are different than other meetings you are asked to take part in.  Shared Parenting Meetings give foster parents the opportunity to develop a relationship in a safe setting with the biological parents, so the child feels comfort in seeing everyone work together, and feels understood and supported by both —in essence parented by both. It is also a time to plan what family time will look like. 
It is vital that family time planning be an immediate priority when a child enters out of home care, which is why an initial caregivers meeting is convened right away to bring together the parents and foster or kin parents. This is the first opportunity for all parties to talk about the family time schedule that will benefit the child and to share information about the child.  Perspectives and feelings of both the parents and foster parents can be expressed and reconciled to promote the best possible collaboration.  Important information can be given regarding the child or youth’s needs, routines, and preferences.
Subsequent Shared Parenting Meetings provide the opportunity to update everyone on how family time is going, to discuss the child’s changing needs from all perspectives (parent, child, foster parent, and social worker), and to make adjustments as progress is made.
When there is contact between birth and foster parents, studies show children:
¨ Have more stable placements
¨ Experience better emotional development
¨ Are more successful in school, and
¨ Return home sooner
There are many benefits of Caregiver and Shared Parenting Meetings for all involved. For the child, Shared Parenting Meetings help to provide a continuum of care, enables the transition to be as smooth and short as possible, decreases the child’s ability to split the adults, and ensures that the child is free to love and be loved by both the family and the kin or foster family. For parents and foster parents, these meetings help everyone to feel more at ease with each other, and to feel more supportive of one another as we move forward with the case plan.
Shared Parenting is a time to work together to support your foster child.  We hope these meetings will help you be aware, involved, and connected in the shared parenting relationship.


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

Turkey Traps Free Online
Fri., Nov. 13, 4 p.m.
Fairfax Community Library
75 Hunt Street, Fairfax
Creative kids ages 6 and up craft traps to catch a Thanksgiving turkey. Pick up materials from the library on Thursday between 3 and 7 p.m. 802-849-2420

At Home With Music for Sprouts
Online Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m.
Mister Chris and Miss Emma serenade little ones with familiar tunes.
Virtual Story Time Free Online
The Christmas Barn. 802-872-7111
Sat., Nov. 14, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Children's authors John and Jennifer Churchman entertain tots with a reading from the newest book in their Sweet Pea and Friends series,

Wed., Nov. 18, 10:30 a.m.
Williston Green
687 Marshall Ave, Williston
An al fresco reading paves the way for a scavenger hunt. People ages two and up should wear a mask. 802-878-4918
Fun With Bubbles Free
Wed., Nov. 18, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Waterbury Public Library
28 North Main Street, Suite 2, Waterbury
Curious kiddos ages 6 through 11 experiment with natural ingredients to make frozen bubbles in this outdoor program. Masks and social distancing are required. 802-244-7036

Sat., Nov. 21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Montshire Museum of Science
1 Montshire Rd., Norwich
Tossing parachutes, launching rockets and building flying objects, young minds learn about the science behind air

Musical Chairs: Instruments of the Orchestra Free Online
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, 4-4:45 p.m. Continues through Nov. 26
Filmed from kid-friendly Vermont location, videos introduce aspiring musicians to instruments and professional Vermont Symphony Orchestra players. This VSO SymphonyKids program is for young people in Kindergarten through grade 6.

11/13/20 - 11/16/20

Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
Brattleboro, VT

 Build your very own LEGO creation and display it at BMAC!
Design and build an original LEGO structure according to contest guidelines available below, or just drop by and check out the fantastic submissions on display November 13-16. Prizes for Creativity and Craftsmanship will be awarded in seven age groups.   All prizes will be announced at a virtual Awards Ceremony on Saturday, November 14, at 5 p.m. Every contestant will receive a personalized certificate of participation.
For contest guidelines and the registration link, please visit our site at



Thank you for your generous support!

 Thank you to our many community partners!
Special thanks this month to the Vermont Association of Broadcasters for sharing our November National Adoption Month message.

We appreciate every Vermont community and individual for all the ways you support every child and youth in foster care throughout Vermont. The holiday season is here. Can you support children in foster care with a gift or donation?  Our Recruitment & Retention Specialist and Resource Coordinator can communicate children's 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
Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can
update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.