CedarWorks Announces Winners!!!

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The 2015 CedarWorks Play It Forward contest winners have been announced!  A total of five families were selected by CedarWorks to win a customized CedarWorks play set for their homes!  The following winners are:

1. Karen and Sean Mowad
Bristol, CT
2. Janell McNally
Apple Valley, CA
3.Dennis and Mary Crawford
Stevensville, MT
4. Lindsey and Jayson Sauve
Charlotte, NC
5.Brittany and Patrick Dwyer
Somers, CT
We appreciate CedarWorks and their incredible generosity in giving back through their Play It Forward contest.  This was the second year CedarWorks has partnered with the National Foster Parent Association.  Barrett Brown, Founder and CEO of CedarWorks, has just announced his desire to bring Play It Forward back for a third year in early 2016!

quality points: EXTREME BEAMS: 4x4xMORE

Casey Family Webinar Series

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Five-part webinar series: Leveraging the Strengthening Families Act

For more than a decade, the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative has been partnering with communities across the nation to help improve outcomes for young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood. The federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (Strengthening Families Act) provides new opportunity to achieve our collective goal of creating a brighter future for these young people.

The Jim Casey Initiative’s recently released report, “What young people need to thrive: Leveraging the Strengthening Families Act to promote normalcy,” highlights recommendations from young people in foster care. And in this series, we’ll explore critical opportunities the law provides.

First in the series:
Creating Effective Normalcy Policies
2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015

The Strengthening Families Act’s normalcy provisions hold great potential for expanding developmentally appropriate opportunities for young people. They also hold great promise for empowering foster families, and improve the relationships between foster families, birth parents and child welfare agencies. This session highlights essential components of an effective normalcy policy; considerations for implementing policy through law, regulation or guidance; strategies for reducing barriers to implementation through development of training policies; and communications. Panelists include:

  • Jenny Pokempner, supervising attorney, Juvenile Law Center
  • Clark Peters, assistant professor, University of Missouri School of Social Work and Truman School of Public Affairs
  • Andy Shookhoff, attorney and former juvenile court judge of Nashville, Tennessee


Mark your calendars for future webinars in this series!

Future sessions will highlight strategies for using court oversight to support and enforce the normalcy provisions as well as strategies for enhancing system accountability through such mechanisms as effective grievance policies and consumer/stakeholder feedback.

  • Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 (2 p.m. – 3 p.m.)
  • Monday, March 28, 2016 (2 p.m. – 3 p.m.)
  • Thursday, May 26, 2016 (2 p.m. – 3 p.m.)
  • Tuesday, July 26, 2016 (2 p.m. – 3 p.m.)

For information
Todd Lloyd, Senior Policy Associate, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, tlloyd@aecf.org

Hotels Cheap Scholarship Award


The National Foster Parent Association is please to announce this fantastic news for your high school senior.
The Hotelscheap.org Spring 2016 General Scholarship Award opportunity is now available and accepting student application through April 15, 2016 with a scholarship to be awarded in the amount of $1500 USD.
The scholarship link for student application is located here: http://www.hotelscheap.org/scholarship
If your school or financial aid resource is no longer linking to the HotelsCheap.org scholarship application, we would like to request your reconsideration in publicizing our scholarship program as an ongoing resource for your student community to leverage for scholarship award opportunities.

Holiday Shopping with Amazon Smile

Amazon SmileAs you begin your holiday shopping, please don’t forget that Amazon.com has partnered with the National Foster Parent Association to give back a portion of sells purchased on Amazon Smile when the charity choice is NFPA.  This is a simple, easy, and fast way to give back this holiday season.  The National Foster Parent Association wishes everyone a blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Connection BEFORE Correction

From Bluewater Family Support Services, support for foster families:
Bluewater is back with a friendly tip we think will make your role as a parent easier and less distressing: connect with you child before attempting to correct your child.
Children need to know parents are there to support them. Children don’t believe they are being supported when parents appear not to be listening. In response to the, “I will tell you where you went wrong” lecture, yelling, or punishment, children are far more likely to raise “I’m not listening” barriers, tune you out, and/or argue back. In order to be heard, connect BEFORE you correct.
Simply asking why your child did something wrong as you are yelling and punishing doesn’t produce the same results. Your child misses information about the impact of their behavior and the other choices that could have been made instead.
Correction requires your child solve the problem with your support. Your child gains firsthand experience with problem-solving and this experience may enable your child to make better choices the next time.
Connecting gives your child a chance to explain how he saw the situation unfold, which allows you to spot any holes in his understanding. This is how a real parent-child connection is created.
1. Start With “How” questions
Begin with asking “how” questions; avoid “why” questions. Ask things like:
“How upset are you?”
“How did her words make you feel?”
“On a scale of 1-10, how mad are you?”
“How do you think you should have handled this?”
“How are you feeling now?”
2. Engage in active listening
Active listening is requires the listener to feed back what they hear to the speaker in an effort to minimize assumptions or misinterpretations.” Engaging in active listening assures your child has been heard.
3. Correcting Using the Word “What”
Now it’s time to shift from connecting to correcting. To do that, begin sentences with the word “what.”
“What are the rules in our house when you hit a friend?”
“What are you supposed to do instead?”
“What will you be doing now to fix his hurt feelings?”
“What else happens in our house when we hurt someone’s feelings or body?”
The words “how” and “what” help move both parent and child away from anger. The child feels supported and heard. The parent and child remain connected. Parent and child feel connected.
Try it! Connection BEFORE correction.

Free Webinar

As part of the 2015 initiative, the Children’s Bureau, in collaboration with Child Welfare Information Gateway and AdoptUSKids, hosted a free, interactive webinar that focused on older youth adoption.

This webinar highlights the adoption story of Mary Lee Esq., who now serves as the National YVLifeSet Coordinator for Youth Villages, and who inspired the creation of the Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act (a.k.a the Mary Lee Act). It also showcased resources and tools for recruiting families for older youth, strategies to overcome common barriers to adoption, and examples of how to help older youth be open to the idea of being adopted.

For more real-life stories, visit the 2015 National Adoption Month video gallery.

Giving Tuesday

Giving TuesdayWe need your support!

Support children in foster care and adoption by supporting the families that provide safe, nurturing care for them when they can no longer live safely with their parents.  These selfless families make a real difference in the lives of over 450,000 abused and neglected children every year.

Your generous donation to NFPA will ensure our ability to continue to serve as the “National Voice of Foster Parents” as well as for kinship families and adoptive families, while providing supports and services to these families as they work to bring reunification or other family permanency to every child in the child protection system.

Please provide your personal support and also share this message with your family and friends  through Facebook, Twitter  and other methods.  Our GOAL is to raise $10,000 on December 1, 2015.  All donations are tax deductible.  Please take this opportunity to donate now here.

Your support will assist NFPA in providing up to date and informative information to our families on a bi-weekly basis through our e-newletter, the Informer.  It will assist us in planning and implementing our national education convention,  in providing telephone and email support to families, to make our journal – The Journey – available to families, to provide public policy advocacy on the federal level and to assist states and local foster family associations and mentor groups to advocate within the public policy arena.  Please visit our website at www.nfpaonline.org to learn more about our work and mission.

Thank you so much for your support.

Ask Dr. Holmes

dr. william holmesQuestion
How do you determine whether the risks outweigh the benefits when putting a child on meds? The thought of intentionally causing my child to experience something unpleasant really makes me angry just so they can be “controlled” at school.

The decision to have children take medications for emotional or behavioral difficulties should never be made lightly. The best decisions will always be made when there is a good, comprehensive evaluation of the situation and the problems displayed by the child.
You have correctly identified the importance of determining the risks versus the benefits. The decision to recommend medications involves a determination that the severity of the problems makes it worthwhile to consider medications, and that without the use of medications the child is likely to have significant problems. You also have to consider the possible side effects of medications, and decide whether the potential benefit of the medicine is worth the need to monitor for side effects.

Keep in mind that most children who take medications do not have severe problems with side effects. Also, no experienced mental health provider should recommend the use of medications simply for “control at school.” Medications are best used when there are consistent problems across multiple settings. Also, with the use of consistent monitoring of medications the chances of severe side effects is dramatically decreased.

Please send medical questions about your foster children to askdrholmes@nfpaonline.org.

William Holmes, M.D. is the Senior Medical Director and Medical Director of Foster Care for Cenpatico Behavioral Health in Austin, TX.

How Much Information Should you Share?

The following article is writing by “Confessions of an Adoptive Parent:”

Whether you’re an adoptive, foster, or special needs family, there’s a tricky balance between inviting people into your story and keeping private information, private. The best place to begin? Establish a few key guidelines!


Over the past 12 years, we have learned several important lessons when it comes to our family’s personal information. We’ve learned who we can invite into our story and who needs to be kept at arms length.

When we first adopted, we received some invaluable advice. We were showing our new daughter off, telling a little about the adoption journey, and trying to answer some rather blunt questions about our daughter’s birth mom. That’s when Dawn pulled us aside. Dawn was a member of the church we were serving with at the time, and, to this day, one of the sweetest, most genuine human beings we have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

“Your daughter’s story is her story, and yours, no one else’s,” Dawn said humbly. “Be careful who you share her information with. You never want someone using your information against you or having someone repeat sensitive details back to your child when she is older!” She was right. We are eternally grateful for those words of advice. They shaped the future for us and still do to this day.

It’s tricky. Your family is obviously unique (whether it’s built through adoption or the old-fashioned way). People will always be curious. But who do share personal information with and how?

The way I like to picture it is similar to how you would receive information about a novel. With every great novel you really get the details (plot, character description, storyline, etc.) three ways- the back cover of the book, the cliff notes, a complete chapter, and reading the full-length book.

Determining your audience.

  1. The “back-cover” crowd. These people are your passers-by. They’re the waitress at your favorite restaurant. They’re the nosey lady standing behind you in the grocery store check-out line staring at your family. They’re the folks who (bless their hearts) ask wonderful questions like “Are they real brothers and sisters?” They do not deserve an ounce of information but because you’re courteous you give a nugget or two here or there. This crowd gets the general synopsis- “You adopted, your child has a special need, your family is different,” but that’s it. They receive enough to be intrigued but not enough to know specific details about you or your children. They can judge or assume all they want, even ask specific questions, but you should never budge on your position with this crowd.
  2. The “cliff notes” crowd. This group receives more than the back-cover crowd, but not enough to formulate an entire chapter on your life. They know the details beyond general knowledge, and could explain your story to someone else if need be. They only know some of the intimate details of your children’s story though. They are the friend from work, or the person in your church who takes a genuine interest in your family, provided they can be trusted. This group receives enough of the story to go beyond curiosity but not enough to formulate a complete picture of your family. They would be further down the list of folks you would call in a crisis or when you needed to have coffee and vent.
  3. The “complete chapter” crowd. This crowd knows complete stories, but not the entire book. In other words, they know your child has behavior issues, that they were drug and alcohol exposed at birth, or even that they’ve been in residential treatment. But they do not know what day-to-day life with this child is like, the contents of their IEP meetings, or even what the nitty-gritty details of your battles with him or her are like. With this group, you’re beyond cliff notes and really just a small step away from sharing the full-length book. They have just about earned your trust to share the complete story
  4. The “full-length book” crowd. These people are your inner-sanctum, your support system, or your closest friends. These are the folks who will walk through hell with you if you needed them to. They are steel traps, never sharing a drop of your information with anyone. They will sit and listen to you as you pour your heart out and not say word unless asked. They do not give unsolicited advice and they never judge. This is the crowd who knows ever intimate detail of your life and your children’s. This group should always be kept very small.

Proceed with caution.

The greatest rule of thumb to live by is caution. Be cautious with your children’s (and your family’s) information. As Dawn shared years ago, you never want their story to be used against them or regurgitated to them in a way that hurts or embarrasses them. This could never be more true than when you adopt, or even in foster care. With all the stigmas surrounding adoption and foster care, it’s wise to keep your support system and circle of trust small and tight.

National Adoption Month

We Never Outgrow the Need for FamilyApproximately 30 percent of the United States foster care population comprises youth ages 13 to 18 years old and, last year, 23,000 youth aged out of care without any legal tie to a family. Through adoption, youth experience a sense of stability, as well as receive the guidance and support they need as they transition to adulthood and begin to make important decisions about their future. This year, our theme challenges the myth that older youth can’t or don’t want to be adopted.

Visit the National Adoption Month website to find resources, videos, and tools to help raise awareness about the need for adoptive families for older youth, including this year’s Public Service Announcement. Our website also highlights information to help support families and youth wherever they may be in the adoption process.

This year’s goal for National Adoption Month is to inspire you to support adoption efforts for older youth in foster care and pass along the important message that “We Never Outgrow the Need for Family.”