Saturday, March 23, 2019 : Session 1 : 10:30-12:00pm

A. Building Connections to Weather the Storm – Sara Forward, Keynote Speaker

     There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.  This old Vermont saying has wisdom to offer for parents.  Through the analogy of finding the right gear for the weather, this training explores proactive and responsive strategies for building relationships children and youth and addressing challenging behavior in a loving and therapeutic manner.  We will discuss brain-based interventions for assisting children in repairing after an upset or unexpected behavior.  Through scenarios taken from real life, we will practice using collaborative emotional processing to increase connection with struggling children to turn gray skies to sunny.

B. Bullying & Harassment: What Parents Need to Know – Karen Price & Janice Sabett

    Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. It can occur during or after school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or on the Internet. Join this workshop to better understand common views and myths about bullying; the difference between bullying and harassment; what students and parents can do to address bullying; and the school’s responsibilities.

C. Kinship Parenting from the Inside Out – Nancy B Birge

    This workshop is designed for Kinship Caregivers, and the professionals who support them.  Participants will be provided with tools and strategies to help them successfully support and guide kinship caregivers and the children in their care. Through a combination of lecture, dialogue and interactive learning, participants will gain understanding of children with trauma, loss, and interruptions in healthy early experiences, and the impact this has on healthy development; as well as the added complications and developmental interruptions experienced by the children, their parents, and the kinship caregivers involved. Learning will focus on the important differences of kinship care, and the sometimes heart wrenching experiences for all parties involved, as well as important strategies and ways of interacting that can help children move toward trust, safety, growth and healing.  

D. Are You Still Laughing? – Michele Feiner

Therapeutic parenting is not something we learn about once and then all is well. It is an ongoing process of growing in our understanding, building and practicing skills, finding and keeping connections and then exercising resiliency. During this workshop we will focus on each  of those areas as we continue to support one another as a village of foster and adoptive parents.

E. Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) A System of Care Response for Young Children – Karen Shea, Kaitlin Zura, Laurel Omland, & Chuck Myers

CPP is an intervention model for children aged 0-5 who have experienced at least one traumatic event (e.g. maltreatment, the sudden or traumatic death of someone close, a serious accident, sexual abuse, exposure to domestic violence) and/or are experiencing mental health, attachment, and/or behavioral problems, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The treatment is based in attachment theory but also integrates psychodynamic, developmental, trauma, social learning, and cognitive behavioral theories. Therapeutic sessions include the child and parent or primary caregiver. The primary goal of CPP is to support and strengthen the relationship between a child and his or her caregiver as a vehicle for restoring the child’s cognitive, behavioral, and social functioning. Treatment also focuses on contextual factors that may affect the caregiver-child relationship (e.g. cultural norms and socioeconomic and immigration-related stressors).

F. Resilient Communities, how Parents and Educators Change the World Despite the Impact of Trauma and Stress. – Leanne Porter

Based on the book, Resilient Communities, How Parents and Educators Transform the World Despite the Impact of Trauma and Stress. (Leanne Porter October 2019). See or for more information. Teaching and modeling proactive techniques that will improve behavior at home and in the classroom. This workshop will begin with a brief introduction (or review) of trauma and attachment. We will have facilitated brainstorming activities regarding challenging behavior issues and participants will identify possible root causes of behaviors. We will discuss the impact of stress and anxiety on behavior in detail.  Activities regarding resilience education will be shared. Next, the instructor will offer an array of behavioral interventions, some based on mindfulness strategies. Participants will be offered a method to collect strategies through writing or drawing that reflects the developmental age of children in their lives. Finally, we will discuss our own mindfulness techniques and how they are shared with children through role modeling. 

G. What’s Your Narrative? – Katherine Boise

As humans in the journey of life, learning to understand our narratives (our personal story) and how to relate it within our relationships with others is valuable.  Who we are and what makes us unique as individuals will be explored. These inquiries and discoveries await each of us as we seek to understand our narratives. This workshop focuses on: Early life narratives that shape our unique life Psycho education on life narratives in the adoption/permanency realm will be shared, with group discussion to enrich the thinking and learning process.

Saturday, March 23, 2019 : Session 2 : 1:30-3:00pm

A. Creating an Adoption Sensitive School –  Monica Darrah

Schools experience unique challenges when working with children who have joined their families through adoption or guardianship.  The traumatic events that many of these children experienced create changes in their ability to access learning and to feel safe.  Here’s information you as a foster/adoptive parent can use to help your school become more sensitive regarding the needs of these children.  You will increase your understanding of how the 7 core issues of adoption and developmental trauma impact children in the school setting and strategies schools can use to help these children feel safer and engage in learning.

B. Youth Depression and Suicide – Ricky Davidson

In this workshop we will look at the basics of youth depression and suicidality, interventions and getting through it. When does being a moody teen become dangerous? Facing teen depression head on and strengthening that young person with to not only get through today but be strong tomorrow. Participants will leave with tools to help themselves and the young people in their care.   

C. Children Affected by the Criminal Justice System: An Invisible Population – Heidi Wener

This presentation is geared toward families, school-based and Family Services professionals, and courts, and will increase awareness of the emotional, physical and behavioral impact caused by the stress of parental incarceration. Participants will gain an understanding of issues related to ‘at time of arrest’, ‘trial/sentencing phases’, and the impact of ‘long-term or re-occurring incarceration’. Parental substance abuse, family violence, and mental health disorders will be discussed in regard to their impact on the family system, as well as contributing factors for incarceration.   

D. Laughter Yoga – Deb Boyce

More contagious than a cough or sneeze, laughter relaxes the whole body. It triggers the release of endorphins, promoting an overall sense of well-being. When combined with yogic breathing, laughter truly becomes the best medicine, providing extensive health benefits for people of all body types. Laughing for a sustained period of time is key to reaping the health benefits of this type of yoga. Classes routinely help students laugh steadily for 15 to 20 minutes. The results? Increased oxygen intake and blood flow, improved blood vessel function, and lower blood pressure. This helps protect your heart, boosts energy, dissolves stress and allows you to gain focus.

E. Maintaining Connections to Families Post Permanence – Christina Shuma

How are you doing? A common question, usually answered with just a few words.  The Vermont Permanency Survey asked this, and may other questions, to understand how Vermont families providing permanency for children from the state child welfare system are really doing.   The Vermont QIC-AG project team will share the process used to develop the Vermont Permanency Survey. The session will highlight survey findings that can then be shared to inform the service delivery system. We  will also share excerpts from a new guide for those parenting by adoption and guardianship. And we will discuss options on how to a)maintain contact with and 2) better identify and respond to the needs of families joined in adoption and guardianship.

F. In the Best Interest of the Child: Creating a Post Adoption Contact Agreement – Catherine Harris & Gillie Hopkins

Have you heard of post-adoption contact agreements (PACAs)? Participants in this workshop will learn what PACAs are, why they can be in the best interest of your child, why DCF often supports them, what kinds of contact are typical, and what supports DCF offers you for the creation of a PACA that is in your child’s best interest – and is constructed so that it will be applicable for the child’s entire childhood.

G. YDP Voices: Learning from Youth in Care – Jennifer Boardman & Youth

Representatives from the Youth Develop Program (YDP) will provide a brief overview of the program and then facilitate a youth panel.  The YDP serves over 500 youth (ages 14-23 years old) across the state each year. All youth served have some experience in the foster care system.  The YDP offers youth-centered case management services, flexible funding, leadership and empowerment opportunities, and access to extended foster care agreements.  Through the YDP, youth are supported to identify their own goals, establish their unique interests, and turn their dreams into plans! A panel of youth who have engaged with the YDP and have lived experience in foster care will engage with workshop participants to share tips, strategies, and invaluable insight into helping youth in care thrive.  You won’t want to miss this workshop!

Saturday, March 23, 2019 : Extra Sessions : 3:15-4:30pm

Open Forum – Open to All

In town meeting style please join Ken Schatz, DCF Commissioner and Karen Shea, Deputy Commissioner for Family Services Division, along with Barb Joyal, System of Care Director and Joan Rock, Foster/Kincare Manager to discuss current initiatives and dialogue about the issues that are on your minds. Bring your questions and ideas!

LGBTQ Foster Parenting & Adoption : Open Dialogue, Lisa Steckler(must register for this workshop)

Foster parenting or adopting as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered person or couple and challenges that are not always discussed in the mainstream foster parent training, support groups, or general association meetings. How does our orientation affect our children? How do we navigate a system that doesn’t always understand or make room for differences? How can your experiences help others? Bring your joys, challenges and hopes and join us in honoring what we bring to the table.

Taking the Long View – Parenting Transracially/Transculturally, Deidra Razzaque (must register for this workshop)

In this workshop adoptive, guardianship, kinship, and foster families will develop an understanding of what unique parenting tasks are required when you become (or are open to becoming) a transracial/transcultural family.  Highlighted during this workshop are the parenting strategies and skills that will help your children thrive.