Workshop Descriptions

(See the full schedule here)

(See workshop presenters bio’s here)

SATURDAY WORKSHOP SESSION 1 : 10:30AM – 12:00PM

A. Understanding the Court Process

The Family Court System governing the juvenile docket is complex. It is comprised of judges, attorneys from multiple offices (State’s Attorney, Defender General, Attorney General, and private attorneys), GALs and DCF staff. The statutes, rules and other factors that inform the court process can be difficult to understand, and foster parents navigating this system may have difficulty knowing how and when the information they have about a child and family can most effectively be “heard.” Please join us in this panel discussion designed to provide foster parents with a better understanding of court proceedings. Learn about the factors that go into a judge’s decision-making, how the different parties may respond to the same information, and how you as a foster parent can best be heard either directly in the courtroom, or by working with one or more of the parties to the case. This workshop will be a panel that will include a judge, attorneys, DCF staff, and a GAL and will provide an opportunity for dialogue between panelists and the audience. Questions will be gathered via survey monkey prior to the session to facilitate the broadest conversation possible.

B. Becoming a Puzzle Master  – Michelle Feiner, Keynote Speaker
Now that you are primed to look at the challenges of raising attachment -challenged children as a puzzle, come spend time with other puzzlers to work on solutions. This will be an interactive workshop where we will combine our energies towards assisting one another with generating ideas for solving some of the difficult challenges of therapeutic parenting.

C. Transition to Adulthood for Youth with Special Needs: What Parents Need to Know : Janice Sabett & Karen Price
Your child with special needs is becoming an adult and you want to help. In this workshop, we will discuss: transition planning as part of the IEP (Individualized Education Program) process, transition services, transfer of rights, supported decision making, guardianship (and alternatives), transitioning from pediatric to adult health care providers, tips for parents, and helpful resources. A panel of parents will share their experiences.

D. Intro to DCF Involved Permanency Options : Gillie Hopkins
Being asked to provide permanency for a child involved with DCF can be a stressful and confusing process. What is the difference between adoption and permanent guardianship? How do they play out when the child is in DCF custody versus conditional custody of a relative? This workshop will attempt to explain the different permanency outcomes which are possible, the perimeters and implications of those outcomes, and the benefits, financial and other, available in each circumstance.

E. Suicide Prevention, Lance Metayer
Understand the unique risk factors and warning signs of suicide among youth and adolescents.  Develop confidence in your ability to recognize suicide warning signs and increase your understanding of what to say and what to do to keep an young person safe.  Develop a basic understanding of designated agency crisis systems and services available to youth and families in crisis.

F. Who’s In Your Network, Barb & Tim Hash
Participants will have the opportunity to explore and recognize the supports that are currently present in their lives. In addition, during this time of collaboration, attendees will have the chance to share ideas and then strategize to build a stronger support network as they continue their journey as foster and adoptive caregivers.

G. GLBT Foster Parenting & Adoption : Open Dialogue, Lisa Steckler
Being asked to provide permanency for a child involved with DCF can be a stressful and confusing process. What is the difference between adoption and permanent guardianship? How do they play out when the child is in DCF custody versus conditional custody of a relative? This workshop will attempt to explain the different permanency outcomes which are possible, the perimeters and implications of those outcomes, and the benefits, financial and other, available in each circumstance.

SATURDAY WORKSHOP SESSION 2 : 1:30PM – 3:00PM

A. Post-Adoption Contact Agreements & the Vermont Adoption Registry, Christina Shuma & Wanda Audette

There is much to be considered when determining contact with biological family members  after adoption.  Join Wanda Audette, Adoption Director at Lund , who has been navigating the Post-Adoption Contact Agreement process on behalf of pre-adoptive parents & the adoption world, since it was signed into law. Attendees will walk away with a better understanding of:  What is the intention behind drawing up a PACA? How to determine if developing a PACA  is right for you and the child in your care? What should be considered when drawing up a PACA? Process and forms.   Christina Shuma, Vermont Adoption Registry Coordinator, will join this discussion to offer how the Vermont Adoption Registry is involved with PACA’s and the possibility of correspondence through the Registry without a PACA in place.

B. Seeing Me: Joining Together to Affirm LGBTQ Youth, Amanda Rohdenburg & Lizzy Lyons
“I felt like I couldn’t come out. I knew for years, but I hid; I kept it in.  There was lots of other stuff going on.” – Vermont Youth. Join youth who have experienced DCF custody and facilitators for an interactive session focused on building inclusive, affirming placements for youth in Vermont communities. Hear directly from youth how a family can create welcoming spaces, get some pointers on inclusive language, and learn what you can do to make it better for LGBTQ youth in the state.

C. Talking it Through: The Role of Caregivers and the Court Process, Joan Rock & Erinn Rolland
Join Resource Coordinator, Joan Rock and Foster and Adoptive parent Erinn Rolland in a frank conversation of the role of caregivers throughout the life of the family court process.  Topics will include: a brief outline of the court process, being prepared to speak in court, the importance of documentation, and the emotional impact on the foster child, their parents, the caregiver and the caregiver’s family.

D. Talking with Your Adopted or Foster Child about their Complicated History, Amy Bielawski-Branch
This workshop will begin with a presentation about the principles to consider when talking to children about the difficult and painful aspects of their history.  Participants will discuss and develop their own plan for talking to their children about their complicated stories.   

E. Restorative Practices: How to Make Things Right, Greg Stefanski & Heather Hobart
A stolen phone.  A broken art piece.  A punch.  Name calling.  Harm can occur in many ways.  We often respond to wrongdoing with punishment, which often increases the harm and ignores the needs of victims, the community and the person who committed the harm.  Restorative Practices provide an amazing alternative to a punishment model.  This workshop will provide an overview of Restorative Justice, and will give participants the opportunity to reflect on a personal experience and practice using restorative approaches.

F. Dispelling the Myths: Sex Trafficking Does Happen in Vermont, Amy Farr, Trissie Casanova, & Priscilla White
This workshop will give participants a clear picture of what sex trafficking of minors looks like in Vermont. We will be exploring why children and youth in the care of DCF are particularly vulnerable, who is responding to this growing problem, why Vermont is not immune to trafficking and what we can do about it.

G. Brain-Based Behavior Interventions: Coming Back From Upset, Sara Forward
This training offers strategies for handling challenging behavior and increasing a child’s ability to regulate emotions and return to calm and cognitive after an upset.  We will approach this work with a brain-based strategy that accounts for the state of regulation a child is experiencing in the moment.  Participants will learn to identify this state and support a child in regulating using brain tricks, sensory options, and quick and portable mindfulness activities.  We will practice skills together, discuss appropriate times to use the strategies, and use a self-reflection tool to deepen personal application of the interventions. Participants will leave with at least two new strategies for approaching conflict and upset with the children in their care.    

 

SATURDAY EXTRA SESSIONS 

OPEN FORUM- All are welcome! : 3:15PM – 4:30PM
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 Pam Piper, Foster/Kincare Manager to discuss current initiatives and dialogue about the issues that are on your minds. Bring your questions and ideas!