Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Speaking up and out about children in care

by David Sharp, NFPA Public Policy Chair

If you have witnessed the day to day challenges of our nation's child welfare system within the context of foster care and want to know how you can help, read on...

The National Foster Parent Association's public policy committee works with its member associations, state and Congressional leaders, and the Administration to monitor public and private sector policies and promote action that will benefit vulnerable children and youths, their families, and their communities.

Consumers, advocates, and legislators must all become informed and take action on pending national and state changes to virtually all public assistance programs for poor children and their families, including income assistance, Medicaid, and housing support.

The following are suggested strategies that you and your local foster and adoptive parent association may want to use on a short-, or long-term basis. Choose strategies that you can do and believe will send the most effective message. Most importantly, keep plugging away! 

Your voice can make a difference.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tennessee association hosts "Moving Forward: Building Something Great Together"

by Becky Rogers

“Moving Forward:  Building Something Great Together” was the theme for the Tennessee Foster Adoptive Care Association, Inc. annual statewide conference held on September 22-23, 2012 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in conjunction with the Department of Children’s Services.

With 950 people in attendance, the conference began an opening session with a MTSU ROTC color guard presentation, national anthem led by Rachel Sullivan and prayer by Jack Coleman, TFACA Regional Director. A welcome was given by John Johnson, Director of Foster Care and Adoptions, who introduced our DCS Commissioner Kathryn O’Day. Commissioner O’Day spoke to TFACA about her five-point mission around partnership.

Broward FAPA receives H&R Block funds

by Tina Severance-Fonte

Broward County Foster and Adoptive Parent Association is pleased to have partnered with H&R Block during the 2012 tax season. A coupon was made available to "first-time" tax clients that allowed Broward FAPA to receive $25 for each new customer. After April 15, H&R Block presented Broward FAPA with $1,225.

2013 Pacific Northwest Caregiver's Conference

by Connie Kerbs

From January 20-22, 2013, caregivers from all over Washington State will be gathering to attend this important and quality caregiver training event.  Foster families, kinship families and adoptive families will have the opportunity to attend this two-night/three-day event at Great Wolf Lodge just south of Olympia, Washington.

The Keys to Successful Caregiving is our theme this year and we will be offering a well-rounded variety of state-approved trainings and panels given by some of the very best trainers, presenters, and community leaders in the field!  The goal of the conference is to “nurture” our caregivers with excellent trainings that will make a REAL difference to the vulnerable children they care for!  Before and after the daily training sessions and panels, Great Wolf Lodge offers world-class family fun with a water park and a great variety of other fun things for the family to enjoy together!

The third annual Night of a Thousand Dreams will be held in the evening of the National Martin Luther King Jr., Day of Service, January 21, 2013, also at the Great Wolf Lodge.  This special banquet dinner and fundraising auction event recognizes social workers, legislative officials, businesses/organizations and community members for their outstanding work and support of our state’s most needful children.  This ceremony will be held as part of the Caregiver’s Conference.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Kinship care: the challenges and opportunities

by Jan Wagner

I had the opportunity to chat with Cate Newbank, executive director of FACES of Virginia, as she was on her way to a briefing about kinship on Capitol Hill. We talked of kinship issues and the very wide gap in this country between licensed foster kinship families and informal or unlicensed kinship families, and she gave me a link to an organization called the National Committee of Grandparents for Children's Rights.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

From the mailbag...

It's always great to get good news in the mail ... look what arrived this week!

Dear Scholarship Donor,
As a recipient of the National Foster Parent Association scholarship, I would like to express how very grateful I am to receive such an honor. I would like to thank you for your generosity which has allowed me to pursue a career in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing. 
Receiving this Scholarship that has been added to my financial aid package for this academic school year, has not only given me the opportunity to pursue my dream in Fashion but also has given me the opportunity to attend college and be a part of the women's lacrosse team. 
Thank you again for your generous contribution to my college career that has made everything happen.

We love receiving feedback from our members and scholarship recipients!

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Let's talk kinship!

NFPA is gathering information regarding kinship care and needs your help. 

If you have any information regarding the following questions, please contact Jan Wagner, NFPA's Kinship sub-committee chair, at wagnerjan(at) You can also leave a comment here and we'll get it to Jan. 

Don't forget to tell us your state!
  1. Are relatives in your state encouraged to become licensed or are they told to seek guardianship or other less formal arrangements?
  2. Are relative families supported in any way by the state such as with special guardianship/kinship subsidies, even if they are not licensed foster families?
  3. Are there specific state policies and procedures for relative families? (send us a link!)
  4. Are kinship families informed of free, accessible trainings and parenting support for children at risk?
  5. Is there a Navigator program in place where families can obtain information on services, benefits, trainings and information sharing?
  6. Are the unique needs of kinship families being recognized by the state?
  7. How can NPFA reach out and support kinship families?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review: On the Edge of Unthinkable

"I had a really hard time accepting his compliments. In fact, the first time he said something nice to me, it felt as if he had hit me."

"On the Edge of Unthinkable" is Paula Kyle's journey through childhood abuse and foster care, and the above passage is how she describes feeling when complimented by her foster father. Only a hurt soul could view a compliment as painful as the blows inflicted on her by her father, Dave. Through twists and turns that sometimes seem stranger than fiction, Paula describes her brokenness as she and her siblings are torn apart and placed into foster care following her mother's death. 

This book shatters the myth that once a child finds a forever family, everything will be OK. Even though Paula did not want to be adopted by her foster parents, Larry and Bonnie Ulrey, they were as close to a forever family as she would ever have.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Getting foster children into early intervention programs

Wendy Wagner, a foster and adoptive parent, sent the following note to NFPA regarding early intervention programs for foster children:
"I would like to know how other communities around the country are handling discrepancies of the social workers not getting preschool-aged foster children into early intervention educational programs. 
These foster children are being 'pushed' into kindergarten, just because they are five, and having had NO preschool or other early intervention education! These foster children already have a 'full backpack' and then [when we] put them into kindergarten, not even knowing the basics, [we] are setting these children up for failure. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

2012-2013 Board of Directors Conference Calls

The National Foster Parent Association hosts monthly calls for its Board of Directors. Following is the schedule for 2012-2013:


August 6

September 10

October 1

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Advocacy Alert: Adoption Tax Credit Call-In Day, Aug. 1 & 2


Dear Supporter of Adoption:

If Congress does not act, the tax credit as we now know it will expire on December 31, 2012.

If the adoption tax credit helped you or someone you know to adopt a child or if it could help you in the future to adopt a child, call your representative today and urge that he or she cosponsor the bipartisan bill H.R. 4373, the Making Adoption Affordable Act.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Getting educational records in a timely manner

Dear foster parents,
The National Foster Parent Association is participating on the National Education Workgroup for Children in Foster Care. Our participation involves at least two national conference calls per month and information gathering for the workgroup. On our last call, we were asked to gather information on any concerns foster parents may have about receiving education records on children/youth placed into their care at placement or within a few days after placement.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

NFPA committee members needed

NFPA is looking for individuals to serve on its various committees. Please take a look at the brief committee descriptions and contact the chair if you're interested. We'd love to have you!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Advocacy Alert: Adoption Tax Credit Call-In Day


Dear Supporter of Adoption:

If Congress does not act, the tax credit as we now know it will expire on December 31, 2012.

If the adoption tax credit helped you or someone you know to adopt a child or if it could help you in the future to adopt a child, call your representative today and urge that he or she cosponsor the bipartisan bill H.R. 4373, the Making Adoption Affordable Act.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Welcome to NFPA's 42nd annual conference!

Our families and supporters started arriving Thursday as NFPA's board met to gather committee and regional reports and to plan operations for the upcoming year. One immediate change in the board was the appointment of Pam Allen of Nebraska as Region 7 Vice President. Pam will finish Jodi Orton's term.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We're in Chicago!

NFPA kicked off its arrival  for the 42nd annual conference June 13 in Chicago/Oak Brook with a Council of State Affiliates meeting that was attended by 21 state representatives. Kudos to Massachusetts, Arizona, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, California, Texas, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, Louisiana, Connecticut, Alabama, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Florida, Iowa and Illinois for joining us!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

NFPA Youth Scholarship winners announced

The National Foster Parent Association is pleased to announce the following recipients of the 2012 NFPA Youth Scholarship Award.

Cynthia G. -- Colorado
Maile M. -- Connecticut
Carissee P. -- Maryland
Alena K. -- Nebraska
Collette N. -- Massachusetts

The NFPA Youth Scholarship Award is offered to foster youth, adopted youth or biological youth of NFPA members who wish to further their education beyond high school, including college or university studies, vocational/technical school or junior college.

The awards are funded by proceeds from NFPA's conference silent auction. This year's silent auction will fund 2013's awards and is being held June 15-18 in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

NFPA/TRI Foster Parent Survey

Dear Foster Parents,
Youth-to-foster parent matching is being talked about as a successful way to minimize placement disruptions, but we know very little about foster parent experiences with adolescents with mental health problems and virtually nothing about their experiences with adolescents with alcohol and other drug problems. This is a real problem since so many of our youth struggle with mental health and alcohol and other drug problems and it is the foster families that are expected to care for them. We are working to change this.

The National Foster Parent Association (NFPA) is working with the Treatment Research Institute (TRI) to conduct a national survey of foster parents’ views on adolescent alcohol and other drug use. As a member or supporter of NFPA, we would like you to answer some questions about adolescent alcohol and other drug use and problems. You don’t have to take part in this study.The TRI is an independent research group. TRI is not connected to the NFPA. About 500 foster parents will answer the questions in this survey.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Wow, What a Month!

 NFPA Logo The National Voice of Foster Parents

Wow, What a Month!

National Foster Care Month

The National Foster Parent Association sends a heartfelt thanks to all who recognized the month of May as National Foster Care Month. We hope that through your efforts, foster care awareness was raised tenfold. We've listed some events that took place around the country for May.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Educating foster children with disabilities

Children with disabilities have specific rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other federal laws which require that children with disabilities receive special help to succeed in school. In addition, children in foster care are entitled to school stability under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (Fostering Connections Act).

View the new issue brief -- How the IDEA and the Fostering Connections Act Can Work Together to Ensure School Stability and Seamless Transitions for Children with Disabilities in the Child Welfare System -- to learn more about IDEA and the Fostering Connections Act.

The brief is authored by Legal Center for Foster Care & Education, which serves as a national technical assistance resource and information clearinghouse on legal and policy matters affecting the education of children in the foster care system.

If you need assistance, representatives at the Legal Center for Foster Care & Education are available, and want to know about progress or challenges in your state. Please send inquiries to

Source: American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law

Monday, May 21, 2012

Congratulations to our conference award winners!

The National Foster Parent Association would like to take a moment during National Foster Care Month to proudly announce the winners for our 42nd annual conference awards!

* Foster Family of the Year Award
(recognizing an outstanding and deserving foster family)
John and Diana Alejos, Nacogdoches, Texas

* State Foster Parent Association of the Year Award
(recognizing an outstanding and deserving state foster parent association)
Foster and Adoptive Family Services, New Jersey

Local Foster Parent Association of the Year Award
(recognizing an outstanding and deserving local foster parent association)
Foster and Adoptive Family Services Volunteer Committee, Middlesex County, New Jersey

General Service and Recognition Award
(recognizing a recipient who has performed a specific community service or activity)
Vanessa Tyus, Jacksonville, Illinois 

Social Worker of the Year Award
(recognizing an outstanding direct service worker in a public or private child-placing agency)
Gia Wesley, Kent, Washington

State Membership Award
(recognizing a state president with the greatest increase in NFPA membership)
Gladys Boyd, Illinois Foster & Adoptive Parent Association

Gordon Evans Merit Award for Service to NFPA
(recognizing noteworthy service to NFPA)
Carolyn Walker, Jacksonville, Texas

NFPA Regional Vice President Award
(recognizing a regional vice president with the greatest increase in NFPA membership)
Randy Ruth, Region 5

The winners will be honored for this achievement Saturday, June 16 at the Oak Brook Hills Marriott Resort. Please join us in congratulating this wonderful group that will represent NFPA during 2012.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sunny: A Book Review

By Theresa MacInnis Schimmel

Sunny was a treat to read. It is most appealing as the story is very well done and the artwork is beautiful. I applaud the author for writing a book to meet the needs of very young children as well as children of elementary school age. I experienced many different feelings as I read the book and I know others will experience the same thing.  The guide to further discussion at the end of the book will be most helpful as foster parents read this story to the children in their care.

Sunny is the story of Mandy, a foster child, who is given a puppy. Struggling with her own emotions of loss and belonging, Mandy tries to return the puppy to its mother, only to discover with the help of her kindly neighbor, Mr.  Johnson, that sometimes puppies, just like people, can find love, care and belonging with a foster parent.

Submitted by Irene Clements, NFPA President

Note: To read more about Sunny or to purchase a copy, visit the author's page here. NFPA receives $1 for every book sold.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

NFPA partners with University of Phoenix to provide full-tuition scholarships

Through a partnership between the University of Phoenix and the National Foster Parent Association, 15 full-tuition scholarships will be offered to eligible NFPA members. Each scholarship will allow a prospective student the opportunity to complete an undergraduate or master's degree program at the University of Phoenix. Recipients may choose to attend a University of Phoenix on-ground campus or may attend University of Phoenix online.

Applicants must be one of the following:

  • A current foster youth (graduated from high school before June 2011);
  • An alumnus of foster care; or
  • A foster parent who is either currently fostering a child or has fostered a child within the past two years; is and will remain licensed by the foster care system in their state; and will continue to foster children throughout the duration of the degree program. Must be a regular member of NFPA and provide NFPA number. If not a current member, please join NFPA.

The University of Phoenix Scholarship is offered on a competitive basis and membership in NFPA is not a guarantee of receiving the scholarship.  Begin your application here and view other eligibility requirements you will need to meet.

2012 Scholarship Calendar
Open Application -- April 24, 2012
Application Deadline -- June 5, 2012
Selection Committee -- June 12 through July 3, 2012
Recipient Eligibility Check -- July 5-11, 2012
Scholarship Award -- July 12, 2012

If you have any questions, please contact the University of Phoenix directly at:

Make sure your state or city is represented at the NFPA conference!

Each year the National Foster Parent Association presents scholarships to foster, adoptive and bio youth of our members and the silent auction is our main fundraiser for this endeavor. Please consider donating items, such as a state basket or gift cards, to be auctioned during the conference. If your association would rather donate funds, that would be great as well. NFPA will purchase the items to make a basket or a gift card to represent your state or area.

Need some ideas? If you're from Florida, a basket of Florida-grown oranges or grapefruit would be great. Live in Wisconsin? How about a cheese and sausage basket? We all know Texas makes the best chili so a chili starter kit might be nice. Hmm, maybe we should stop there since all of our ideas are centered around food!

Agencies are welcome to send a basket too. Our goal is to have every state represented during the auction ... please help us make that happen. Proceeds from this auction will go toward the 2013 NFPA Youth Scholarship Fund.

You can send silent auction items and/or donations to the NFPA office at:

National Foster Parent Association
Attn: Silent Auction
2021 East Hennepin Ave., Suite 320
Minneapolis, MN 55413

We must have the items by Friday, June 8 for inclusion in the silent auction. If you'd rather bring the items with you to Oak Brook, we'll accept them then too.

Contact Sarah Schafer at 800.557.5238 or sschafer(at) for more information.

Thanks and we can't wait to see you all in June!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Should Hollywood be more responsible?

Dear Hollywood,
As parents, we are always sensitive to situations or people that can potentially bring harm to our children. This is even more so when we carry the title of "foster parent" or "adoptive parent." Movies and books that might be appropriate in a general setting can sometimes be a landmine for foster parents -- and adoptive parents of children who know they're adopted.

Recently parents have brought to our attention two movies that fall into that landmine category: "Three Stooges" and "Avengers."

After seeing the movie "Three Stooges," one mother shared that there are "a lot of bad remarks about adoption and foster care," and that one character says she refuses "to go to a house where people are paid to love her."

This might be innocent for some but for children in care, it can reinforce the "my life is bad because I'm in foster care" outlook.

In "Avengers," other parents have noted they could have done without one character's line in the movie. When the character Thor says, "He's adopted," in response to hearing his brother, a villain, has killed many people, it puts a bad taste in the mouth of adoptive parents. Imagine the potential hurt it could cause children who know that they are adopted.

The road traveled by children in care, through no fault of their own, is often filled with bumps, and as their caregivers, we tend to try extra hard to smooth the road, not add more potholes. Having said that, we're no prudes but it'd be nice to know -- from Hollywood -- beforehand if the "entertainment" we're viewing will cause discomfort for our children. Then we can do our part as parents and either decide not to view the movie with the children or have a "talk" prior to viewing to prepare them.

Let's work together on this.

Concerned Foster and Adoptive Parents

Monday, May 7, 2012

To All Foster Moms, From All the Children in Your Loving Care

Love, trust, friendliness and courage
Are some of the lessons you taught me.
What a great start you gave me in life!
I love you, Mom.

I am forever grateful for the gift of you.
Happy Mother’s Day.

I just wanted to tell you how
important you are to me and how
much I love you.
Happy Mother’s Day.

My mother, my guide, my friend.
I love you.

I appreciate how hard you’ve worked
to make my life so good.

Thanks, Mom.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May is National Foster Care Month -- Be Proud of What You Do!

Irene Clements
NFPA President
Dear NFPA Members and Friends,
As you know, May is National Foster Care Month. It is a time to recognize the exceptional dedication of foster parents and their families and those who work in the foster care system. The National Foster Parent Association is proud to be one of several like-minded national organizations that have partnered in planning for this recognition and the provision of materials that can be used to assist with specific activities and events during National Foster Care Month.

Resources are available from the National Foster Care Month website. If you haven’t been invited to an event in your local area or would like to do something, please go to the website for a wealth of suggestions for activities, sample proclamations and news releases and a calendar of events from around the country. You will also find a fact sheet specific to your state that may be helpful as you educate others about foster care and why it is important for every community to recognize their foster families.

Each state and local community observes May as National Foster Care Month in a variety of ways. Each state has a person who is designated as the state foster care manager and they should be helpful in identifying events and activities in your state.

NFPA has collaborated with US Airways and CNN to have recruitment spots and a two-minute interview utilized on an ongoing basis on airport monitors and on US Airways radio during the months of May through August 2012. We hope this four-month exposure in more than 40 main airports in the United States and on US Airways planes will plant many seeds that will grow into people stepping up to be foster and/or adoptive parents.

I hope to see many more Walk Me Home events planned for next year as foster parents and their support associations learn the importance of spreading the word about the need for more foster homes while raising funds for more retention supports for foster families in their local communities.

The bottom line is that foster parenting is the most difficult but most rewarding thing a person can do with their life. Changing the life of a child to help ensure a bright and happy future is priceless and foster parents do that each and every day. Hold your heads high and be proud of the volunteer work you do 24/7. Understand that the National Foster Parent Association acknowledges and appreciates your hard work and, if we could, would give every one of you a huge hug and a warm pat on the back.

As always, you are my heroes,
Irene Clements, President

Friday, April 20, 2012

Support the Expansion of the Adoption Temporary Taxpayer Identification Number

As the primary voluntary caretakers of children in foster care, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows foster parents to claim the children in their care on their federal taxes. However, in the past decade, in an effort to prevent divorced parents from both claiming children on their taxes, the IRS has begun requiring all parents to provide the children’s social security numbers on their tax forms. According to a senior IRS official, this has resulted in a dramatic decrease in “double dipping” by divorced parents.

This new requirement has inadvertently prevented foster parents from claiming children in their care on their federal taxes because the Social Security Administration has a memorandum of understanding with states that prevents the states from sharing social security numbers with foster parents in an effort to protect children’s privacy. Foster parents cannot claim children without access to social security numbers. This means that any birth family member with the child’s social security number may claim the child on his taxes and there is no way to track or stop this. Only when a counter claim is made by the person actually providing the daily care for the child can the situation be investigated.

This oversight in the regulations needs to be changed to ensure that a child’s actual caretaker, rather than a person who simply has access to the child’s social security number, receives the tax benefit. Fortunately, there is a straightforward solution that will fix the situation: expand the availability of Adoption Temporary Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ATIN) to foster parents.

ATINs are routinely issued by the Internal Revenue Service as temporary taxpayer identification numbers where the pre-adopting taxpayers will be adopting within the next two years and do not have and/or are unable to obtain the child’s Social Security Number. Allowing foster parents to request and receive ATINs would eliminate the need to obtain the child’s original social security number and permit foster parents to legitimately and appropriately claim tax deductions for children in their care. It would also protect the children’s privacy by limiting access to their social security numbers. This simple change would increase tax fairness for foster families, protect children, eliminate fraudulent claims by non-custodial parents and would not have a large federal fiscal impact.

Sarah Gerstenzang, NFPA's Region 2 Advisor

Monday, April 9, 2012

Learn more about tuition waivers for Oregon's foster youth

In 2011, Oregon passed a new law (SB 243/HB 3471) that provides tuition waivers to the state's foster youth. The concept was inspired by the Oregon Foster Youth Connection, a group of current and former foster youth working to improve the child welfare system in Oregon.

To increase awareness for the tuition waivers, Children First for Oregon has created downloadable fact sheets for foster youth, foster parents, child welfare workers, colleges or anyone interested in sharing the news among Oregon's child welfare population.

You can visit the following links for more information:

Children First for Oregon Fact Sheets

Oregon Foster Youth Connection

Below are direct links to the fact sheets:

Tuition Waiver General Info

Tuition Waiver Info for Youth

Tuition Waiver Legislative Fact Sheet

Please help spread the word among Oregon's foster youth that an educational opportunity awaits them.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Difference between discipline and punishment, part 2

What is discipline?
Discipline is guidance. When we guide children toward positive behavior and learning, we are promoting a healthy attitude. Positive guidance encourages a child to think before he acts. Positive guidance promotes self-control. Different styles of discipline produce results that are different. Discipline requires thought, planning and patience.

The use of discipline is a process of thinking and trying. Remember, effective discipline:

  • Is good for both parent and child
  • Teaches a child to take responsibility for his or her behavior
  • Helps parents maintain a warm relationship with the child

The goal is to teach the child how to behave, not to make the child suffer.

What is punishment?
Punishment is usually hitting, spanking or any type of control behavior that is used to stop a child from misbehaving. Punishment does not teach children how to use self-discipline. It only stops misbehavior for that moment. Punishment may fulfill a short-term goal, but it actually interferes with the accomplishment of your long-term goal of self-control.

Punishment may take many forms:

  • Physical -- Slapping, spanking, switching, paddling, using a belt or hair brush, and so on.
  • With words -- Shaming, ridiculing or using cruel words.
  • With activities -- Locking a child in his or her bedroom, forcing child to sleep on the floor because he or she wet the bed.

This is taken from The Parenting Web by Dr. Louise Davis, as printed by the Circle of Parents.

Stay tuned for more on the differences between discipline and punishment...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Difference between discipline and punishment, part 1

Continuing the theme of Child Abuse Prevention Month, we're tackling the difference between discipline and punishment, as shared by Circle of Parents.

Punishment and discipline are different in what they do and how they are done. Look at the chart below to see how discipline not only corrects current behavior but helps the child develop good behavior in the future. Punishment, on the other hand, just stops bad behavior now and doesn't help a child learn how to behave correctly.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow...

Monday, April 2, 2012

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism,
They learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility,
They learn to fight.

If children live with ridicule,
They learn to be shy.

If children live with shame,
They learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement,
They learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance,
They learn to be patient.

If children live with praise,
They learn to appreciate.

If children live with acceptance,
They learn to love.

If children live with approval,
They learn to like themselves.

If children live with honesty,
They learn truthfulness.

If children live with security,
They learn to have faith in themselves and others.

If children live with friendliness,
They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

by Dorothy Law Nolte
Copyright © 1972/1975

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Healthy Foster Care America

Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics has a Healthy Foster Care America section on its website tailored to foster care? 

The Healthy Foster Care America page is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children and teens in foster care through the following key features:

  • Educational fact sheets
  • Adaptable forms
  • Guidance for professionals and families
  • Subscription to the Healthy Foster Care America listserv
  • Tips on how to advocate for the health needs of children and teens in foster care
  • A Special Place for Children and Families portal

This section also has a resource library, which includes topics and materials related to the health issues and needs of children and teens in foster care.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Texas foster youth camp seeks campers and mentors

Camp Constellation, which brings together foster care youth from across the state of Texas and pairs them with foster care alumni who serve as mentors, will be held May 4-6, 2012 at Camp For All in Burton, Texas.

Camp Constellation organizers are seeking foster care alumni to serve as mentors -- approximately 30 mentors are needed. Mentors can access the volunteer/counselor application here.

For parents interested in having their children in care participate, the camp's fees are $350 and covers supplies, insurance, camp cost and transportation costs.

Camp Constellation is the flagship program of the Constellation Foundation, which seeks to improve the outcomes of aged-out foster care youth by creating a network of peers and mentors and providing support during critical development stages.

For more information about Camp Constellation, visit the website or contact Natalie Lee at 817.991.3773 or at

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wonder #7: Divided Loyalties

Wonder #7: Divided Loyalties
"I wonder if I should remain loyal to my birth mother or if I should allow myself to love and be loved by my foster/adoptive mother."

Behaviors associated with this issue:
  • Acting out during the holidays or near Mother's Day
  • Refusal to attach to the foster/adoptive parents
  • Modeling after birth parent or fantasy of birth parent

We hope you have enjoyed this series, "The Seven Wonders of Adoption," by Betsy Keefer-Smalley. Please leave a comment and let us know if you were helped in any way.

A special thanks goes to for allowing us to reprint the "wonders."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wonder #6: Control

Wonder #6: Control
" I wonder why everyone else makes decisions about my family, how much information I get, how old I have to be to meet my siblings or birth parents. When do I get to make important decisions about my life."

Behaviors associated with this issue:
  • Constant control battles with authority figures
  • Lying, even with the lie does not seem to benefit the child
  • Stealing
  • Obsessive compulsive behavior (list-making, unusual orderliness)
  • Lack of flexibility

Stay tuned tomorrow for the final wonder in this great series...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wonder #5: Identity

Wonder #5: Identity
"I wonder who my people are and if I will be like them."

Behaviors associated with this issue:
  • Looking and behaving in ways that are very different from the foster/adoptive family
  • Changing identities frequently in a search for one that is like the birth family
  • Recurring episodes of running away from the foster/adoptive home

Stay tuned tomorrow for Wonder #6...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wonder #4: Trust

Wonder #4: Trust
"I wonder if I can believe what these people are telling me."

Behaviors associated with this issue:
  • Refusal to attach
  • Distancing from nurturing caregivers
  • Stealing
  • Caring for own needs and desires because child has not learned that others will meet his or her needs
  • Lack of interest in pleasing others

Stay tuned for Wonder #5...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wonder #3: Guilt and Shame

Wonder #3: Guilt and Shame
"I wonder what I did to make my own parents throw me away."

Behaviors associated with this issue:

  • Magical thinking: belief he or she caused the separation from the birth family
  • Low self-esteem
  • Expectation of failure and future rejections

Stay tuned for Wonder #4...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wonder #2: Rejection/Abandonment

Wonder #2: Rejection/Abandonment
"I wonder if these people are really going to keep me."

Behaviors associated with this issue:

  • Approach/avoidance conflicts in relationships, especially with parents, but occurring also in relationships with peers
  • Rejecting others before they can be rejected ("I will 'quit' before I get fired)
  • Negative behavior to speed anticipated rejection and test commitment of others
  • Attempts to be "perfect" to avoid rejection

Stay tuned tomorrow for Wonder #3...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wonder #1: Loss and Grief recently outlined seven commonly identified adoption issues, reframed from the child's point of view as "wonders," as researched by Betsy Keefer-Smalley, the director of foster care and adoption training at the Institute for Human Services in Ohio.

NFPA has gained permission to reprint these "wonders," along with some possible behaviors displayed by a child experiencing feelings associated with each of the issues.

Wonder #1: Loss and Grief
"I wonder why I lose everyone and everything that is important to me. What is the matter with me?"

Behaviors associated with this issue:

  • Overreactions to real or perceived losses (death of a pet or grandparent, a friend moving away, school transitions, etc.)
  • Difficulty with separations from foster or adoptive parents (school or day care, camp, sleepovers, parents' getaway or business trips, hospitalizations)
  • Difficulty emancipating from the foster/adoptive home; attempts to delay emancipation through self-induced failure

Stay tuned tomorrow for Wonder #2...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Foster Parenting Toolbox to be released March 1

The Foster Parenting Toolbox is 464 pages of helpful information to foster parents in the trenches and any other professional who is part of the child's team.

Chapters include:

  • Why Foster
  • Perspectives
  • Transitions
  • Teamwork
  • Birth Family Connections
  • Loss, Grief and Anger
  • Attachment and Trust
  • Parenting Teens
  • Allegations
  • Respite and Support
  • And many other issues...

Read more about the book here.

Publication date is March 1, 2012. EMK Press is offering a prepublication special of $10 off the cover price of $29.95. Use the coupon code FP10OFF on the EMK Press site by March 1.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

NFPA joins the friendly skies

NFPA president Irene Clements recently had the opportunity to promote foster care and NFPA with Altitude Media. Listen to the podcast that will be played on US Airways flights and major airports in May and June.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuition help available for women 35 years of age and older

The Jeannette Rankin Foundation provides opportunities for women ages 35 and older to receive financial assistance in attending college through its Women's Scholarship Fund.

Since 1978, the fund has awarded scholarships to help more than 500 women.

Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • A woman, age 35 or older
  • A U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.
  • Enrolled in, or accepted to, a regionally or ACIS accredited school
  • Pursuing a technical or vocational education, an associate's degree or a first bachelor's degree
  • Low income (guidelines are included on the website)

Deadline for applying is March 1, 2012.

Visit the Jeannette Rankin Foundation's website for more information on other criteria and to download an application.

Monday, January 30, 2012

NACAC to host webinars on adoption assistance

The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) will host two free webinars on adoption assistance on January 31 and February 7. See details below:

Adoption Assistance Benefits and Eligibility
January 31, 2012
2:30 p.m. CST

Josh Kroll will present information about adoption assistance benefits, including which children are eligible and the benefits available. The session will be of use to prospective adopters as well as parents who are seeking to make a change in the child's benefits due to changes in the child's needs or family's circumstances.

Register here for Adoption Assistance Benefits and Eligibility.

Adoption Assistance Advocacy
February 7, 2012
2:30 p.m. CST

With state and provincial budgets continuing to be tight, adoptive parents, adoption professionals, and other child advocates will need to be vigilant in case legislators seek to balance budgets by reducing adoption assistance benefits. In this session, Adoption Subsidy Resource Center project coordinator Josh Kroll will explore advocacy strategies to maintain and enhance adoption subsidy programs.

Register here for Adoption Assistance Advocacy.

Source: NACAC

Friday, January 27, 2012

Develop a routine for the first night of placement

The beauty of being a foster parent is the stability that we provide children in care, who may not otherwise get stability -- or a stable routine -- in their biological homes.

We all know the excitement and eagerness that accompanies a new placement. We also know the anxiety of wondering how the first few nights will play out. Why not start a routine that will transcend most placements, especially for children ages 5 to 8?

Tuck Me In Cards provide a great "intro" for the bedtime routine. With cards such as "I'll Tell You A Story About When I Was Little" and "If You Could Go Anywhere In the World, Where Would You Go and How Would You Get There," it allows foster parents to "break the ice" in the those first few days.

Taffy Gallagher's company, Five Threads, created Tuck Me In Cards to help caregivers get to know a child while developing their critical thinking skills. There are no wrong answers to the connecting questions and each one is intentionally phrased to enhance the relationship with the child so you as a foster parent can appreciate the child's interest, thoughts and feelings.

Although the cards are geared for children ages 3 to 7, the concept might be better understood for ages 5 to 8 if your child in care is delayed developmentally.

Tuck Me In Cards could make great gifts for foster parents, either from foster parent organizations as giveaways or from placement agencies as part of their parenting resources available to caregivers.

Visit or contact Taffy Gallagher at 360.434.5647 or for more information.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

NFPA seeks leader for communications subcommittee

The National Foster Parent Association is increasing its efforts to reach out to members, supporters and the public through its communications subcommittee. With a unique focus on promoting awareness of the National Foster Parent Association and foster care in general, the chair of the communications subcommittee will:

  • Assist in managing social media tools, including blog, parent forum, Facebook and Twitter
  • Assist in developing articles of interest for the National Advocate, NFPA News and Fostering Families Today
  • Develop press releases for major NFPA events
  • Assist public policy committee with talking points for NFPA members in regards to legislation
  • Pitch advocacy efforts to media outlets locally, regionally and nationally
  • Coordinate positive public relations materials for and about foster parents

This subcommittee will work with the member services committee to accomplish these goals and more.

Contact NFPA president Irene Clements at regarding interest in the communications subcommittee.

Dallas-Fort Worth area parents create new Facebook page

If you are a foster or adoptive parent living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, visit the new Facebook page of DFW Foster Parents, Adoptive Parents & Respite Providers Unite.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Foster parent input sought for informal survey

Gini Hatch-Pigott, a pediatrician and adoptive parent, has created a survey to glean wisdom from fellow foster parents and needs your input.

Click here to complete the survey.

Friday, January 20, 2012

An open letter to U.S. Congressman Spencer Bachus

NFPA's Public Policy committee, with legal advocates' help, is pursuing an advocacy strategy to effectively address the country's foster care rates. Chair David Sharp shares an open letter to U.S. Congressman Spencer Bachus regarding this matter.

Email David and share your own thoughts regarding the country's foster care board rates.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Upcoming elections and membership voting

NFPA will begin the voting process for its election on February 22.

Members will receive ballots to vote for the following positions:

Region 2 Vice President
Region 4 Vice President
Region 6 Vice President
Region 8 Vice President
Region 10 Vice President

You MUST be a member by January 31 to be eligible to vote in the election.

Click here to join NFPA today.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Directory of nationwide Parent Centers

Did you know that each state is home to at least one parent center? Parent centers serve families of children and young adults with disabilities, including physical, cognitive, emotional and learning.

Parent centers help families obtain appropriate education and services for their children with disabilities; train and inform parents and professionals on a variety of topics; resolve problems between families and schools and other agencies; and connect children with disabilities to community resources that address their needs.

View the index of Parent Centers here.

You can also view other resources for parents and families provided by the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education (NCPIE) here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Complimentary tickets to House of Blues Orlando concerts

Hear the Music Live is offering four (4) free tickets to foster families to the following events at the House of Blues Orlando.

January 18: Evanescene concert, 8 p.m.
January 22: Falling In Reverse concert, 6:30 p.m.
February 9: Allstar Weekend concert, 6 p.m.

Send an email to or with the following information:

Name of Chaperone
Age and Gender of Each Foster Child Attending
Number of Tickets Requested
Email Address
Event Date, Venue and Artist

Hear the Music Live is a nonprofit organization that provides live music experiences to foster youth and teens.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Scholarship announced for health-related field just launched a $5,000 scholarship, exclusively for U.S. students pursuing a degree that will help combat nursing home abuse. The scholarship will cover non-tuition related expenses such as rent, childcare, textbooks, utilities and groceries for the 2012-2013 academic year. The application window is January 15 through February 15.

For scholarship details or more general information, visit the website, call 832.499.0470 or email

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

International Student Foundation seeking applicants

The International Student Foundation, a nonprofit that provides scholarships, mentoring and leadership training for select foster care and orphaned students, is accepting applications for scholarships to college for the Fall 2012 – Spring 2013 academic year.

If you are a young adult who has either aged-out already, or who will age-out soon and wants to pursue a higher-level education, contact Renee LeClair at

Applications will be accepted until March 31, 2012.

Call 972.267.8188 or visit the website at

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nominate a Foster Family of the Year

Do you know a foster family that deserves to be recognized nationally? Nominate them for the 2012 NFPA Foster Family of the Year Award!

The award, a plaque bearing the name of the Foster Family of the Year, is presented to the family during NFPA's Annual Education Conference, which will be held June 15-18, 2012 in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Also check out the other awards NFPA will be distributing during its conference.

Deadline for nominations is March 1. All award forms, including criteria for the awards, are located on NFPA's 2012 Conference page.