Advocates for Families First




Helping ensure children in kinship, foster, and adoptive families thrive


A warm welcome to all the new subscribers to this e-news list. Please also visit the website at:


 Free Webinars for Group Leaders, Child Welfare Workers, Advocates, Families, Youth, and Community Partners

Improving Safety, Permanency, and Well-Being
for LGBTQ Youth

September 23, 2015, 1:00 pm EST (12:00 pm CST, 11:00 am MST, 10:00 am PST)

Please join us for this informative webinar for anyone parenting or providing services for kin, foster, or adoptive caregivers, and their children and youth. Included will be an overview of our knowledge regarding:

  • LGBTQ youth in out-of-home care
  • The impact of ​family rejection
  • Their struggle for inclusion and safety when in care
  • Lack of affirming resource families
  • Double standards applied to behavior, sexuality, etc.
  • Essential role of support and affirmation in helping youth thrive

Presented by Ellen Kahn, Director of the Children,Youth & Families Program at Human Rights Campaign.

Register for the webinar here.


Behavioral Interventionist Model: Keeping Children with Extreme Challenges Home for Treatment

October 8, 2015, 1:00 pm EST (12:00 pm CST, 11:00 am MST, 10:00 am PST)

Join us to learn about an innovative new program currently operating in Missouri, which has the potential to revolutionize mental health treatment for children and youth who have suffered extreme trauma.  Designed by an adoptive parent whose children were in residential care, but not getting better, this program is based on her personal approach to “What I need to keep my kids safely at home.”  This model program allows for the children’s needs to be met safely within their own homes, rather than in residential treatment centers. This program is founded on the understanding of the impact of developmental trauma on the brain and the importance of nurturing relationships in the effort to heal.  Parents partner with the child welfare agency and their child’s therapists to design a treatment plan which is then implemented with the child in his own home, school, and community.

This webinar will explore the program in depth, discuss services, outcomes, and funding options, and the Director of the Missouri Children’s Division will share his perspective on the benefit of this program for the children and families his agency serves.

Presented by Lori Ross, Tim Decker, and Susan Peach:

** Lori Ross is president, CEO, and co-founder of the Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association (MFCAA) – a support and advocacy organization for foster and adoptive families. A foster/adoptive parent since 1985, Lori has cared for more than 400 foster children, served as a teaching foster parent for 28 years, and is the author of the recently published book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff; Advice from the trenches for foster and adoptive parents” .
** Tim Decker is the director of the Missouri Division of Children’s Services. For 30 years, he has served with the Missouri Department of Social Services and the Greater Kansas City Local Investment Commission (LINC); one of Missouri’s innovative public/private community partnerships focused on citizen engagement, local governance, natural helping networks, and neighborhood-based services. 
** Susan Peach is a clinician with Lifeworks and has worked with this model for 2.5 years.

Register for the webinar here.

If you cannot attend in person, you can access a recording. 

Simply register as if you will be attending and after the session is over, 
you will receive a link to the recording.


Advocates for Families First Messaging Toolkit

We know that the media – both news and entertainment – has a huge impact on the public’s understanding and beliefs, often misrepresenting or misinterpreting the issues, the people, and the system. Advocates for Families First has created the Messaging Toolkit to assist you in your advocacy efforts.

The following items can help organizations in kinship care, foster care, and adoption talk with the media and the public about the importance of supported and supportive family relationships.

·      Communication Tips

·      Quick Tips for Working with the Media

·      Building Relationships with the Media to Get Your Message Across

·      Sample Commentaries or Letters to the Editor

·      Brains in Default Mode (from Communications Consortium Media Center)

·      Developing and Communicating Messages (from Communications Consortium Media Center)

We hope these resources will help you in your advocacy efforts to ensure that children who cannot remain at home are placed safely with families who have the support they need. If you have sample op eds or commentaries that you’d like us to share, please email us.

,Resources for Caregivers and Professionals

Teen Success Agreement from Juvenile Law Center

The Teen Success Agreement is a youth-developed written agreement that outlines the age-appropriate activities, responsibilities, and life skills for youth ages 13-21 in the child welfare system, and how the caregivers and agency will support those goals. The plan also outlines the house rules and rewards and consequences for different behaviors. The youth, caregiver, and provider agency should meet every six months to discuss, complete, and update this form.

Completing the Teen Success Agreement will help:

·      Ensure that youth in care have access to the same age-appropriate activities as youth not in care.

·      Ensure that youth and caregivers understand the expectations of the household, as well as any rewards or consequences for meeting, or failing to meet, those expectations.

·      Ensure that youth in care have the skills they need to be successful when they leave care.

·      Encourage open communication between caregivers and youth.

Download the guide here.


Resource Parent Curriculum Online
 from National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network

 On this interactive site, you’ll find a wealth of resources – from supplemental training modules, to podcasts and webinars, to group phone consultations and online blogs – all of which support the goal of trauma-informed parenting.

You can access all the training modules to deliver the curriculum; obtain insight from parents and professionals who are walking the walk; and build community as you engage in this journey.

Access the curriculum here.


Reaching In…Reaching Out: Resiliency Resources
The Reaching In…Reaching Out Resiliency Guide acquaints readers with the topic of resiliency and provides an overview of important abilities and skills that support resilience. Access the guide here.

Web-based Resiliency Resources for Parents can be accessed here.

Free Webinars for Group Leaders, Child Welfare Workers, Families, Youth, and Community Partners

You can access recordings and handouts from our first eleven webinars:

Starting and Enhancing Support Groups for Adoptive, Foster, and Kinship Families

Developing a Youth Speak Out Advocacy Team 

Fundraising for Groups 

Effective Legislative Advocacy Strategies

Advocates for Families First Advocacy Agenda

How to Handle Compassion Fatigue and Prevent Burnout 

Hidden in Plain Sight: Accessing Funding for Specialized Youth Permanency Services 

Be Heard! Passage of the Strengthening Families Act Creates Advocacy Opportunities

Effective Collaboration for System Improvement

Transforming the Adoptive and Foster Care Placements of Children through the National ELectronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE)

KinFirst: Making Relatives a First Choice for Children


Advocates for Families First is a collaboration of the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the National Foster Parent Association, and Generations United.



We are grateful to the support of our funders—the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative.


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