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