(802) 876-5315
Strong Families. Strong Futures.
Greetings to our VFN Family and Friends.

Another school year comes to a close and it’s been a busy year for VFN! Our Family Support Consultants on VFN’s helpline responded to thousands of calls from families needing support and resources around their children’s educational, health, and funding needs. Other family support programs – Sibshops, Parent Matches, Family Faculty, workshops, and training – saw much activity as well. The Puppets in Education program wrapped up another eventful year of powerful puppetry. Consider joining the VFN team! We have openings in the Family Support and Puppets in Education programs.

June is the month of high school graduations and transition. A successful transition to adulthood is the desired outcome for every child with a disability who receives special education services through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). At VFN, our Family Support Consultants – all parents of children with disabilities - have been supporting families for over 30 years to form collaborative relationships with professionals in building robust Individualized Education Programs (IEP). We encourage parents to begin the transition planning process early with their children and to partner with their school teams to build meaningful transition plans within their high schooler’s IEP. An important part of this process is the linkage between school teams and adult service providers, like HireAbility, which provide a comprehensive coordinated passage to postsecondary life. VFN partners with HireAbility, formerly Vocational Rehabilitation, and other adult-focused disability organizations to help families make this important link to bridge the transition from school to post-secondary life.

At the federal level, Valerie C. Williams, Director of the Office of Special Education Program (OSEP) has announced a new initiative to improve postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities: Expect, Engage, and Empower: Successful Transitions for All!  This initiative will challenge schools nationwide to raise expectations for children with disabilities, engage families earlier, and empower all who support transition services to improve postsecondary outcomes for children and youth with disabilities. She outlines three priorities:
  • The education and vocational rehabilitation systems must work together,
  • Critical discussions about the future and transition planning process must start sooner, and
  • ALL students with disabilities should have the opportunity to learn about all post-secondary opportunities and make the best choice for themselves.
VFN will take up its part in OSEP’s challenge to empower family and youth voice to make successful transitions a reality!

From the heart,
Youth Advocacy Council
The Youth Advocacy Council (YAC) is made up of youth and young adults with disabilities ages 14 through 25 who are interested in leadership training and activities that impact life after high school. Please consider having your teenager/young adult child apply! Watch Building and Empowering Ourselves through the Youth Advocacy Council and fill out this application for membership. One of the many activities the YAC conducts is the planning and implementing of the Youth Summit. Watch this year’s Youth Summit 2023 Keynote presentation.

For more information about transition, read VFN’s Transition Toolkit for Youth with Disabilities or contact our helpline at 802-876-5315 or info@vtfn.org if you have concerns or questions about your high school student with a disability. 
PCA Facebook Page
VFN has a closed Facebook page for families looking to hire Personal Care Attendants (PCA) and for people looking for PCA work. This forum is a place to share what you need and to make connections. The Children's Personal Care Services is a program within the Vermont Department of Health, Children with Special Health Care Needs. A child must have Medicaid to apply for PCS hours. Eligible families are assigned a budget based on an assessment of their child. A PCA is someone who is hired by the family to assist their child 1:1 with their activities of daily living. Potential PCAs and parent employers should connect with each other directly regarding interviewing and continuing with the hiring process. Help us to grow this forum by letting others know it’s there! Check out our Finding and Hiring a Child's Personal Care Attendant factsheet for more ideas.
Special Education
Rule Changes
Special Education Rule changes will take effect July 1 2023. These changes will affect special education eligibility by changing the definition of adverse effect. Changes will also impact eligibility determinations for children with specific learning disabilities and deaf-blindness. VFN hosted the Agency of Education staff for a series of three workshops on the Special Education Rules changes. Topics covered in this series are "Rule Change Implementation," "Adverse Effect and Functional Skills Changes," and "Specific Learning Disability Changes."

Initial special education evaluations must be completed within 60 calendar days of when a parent’s written consent is received by the school district. School break, including summer vacation, cannot be used as an acceptable reason under Vermont’s delay in evaluation rule unless the school can document that the student was not made available for the evaluation over the summer vacation months. 

If you have questions about your child’s IEP or how to build a more collaborative partnership with your child’s school, contact the VFN helpline at 802-876-5315 or info@vtfn.org.
Two Support Parent Trainings in July!
An adult sitting on the couch talking on the cell phone

Dates are:
Tuesday, July 18 from 12-2:00 p.m.
Wednesday, July 26 from 6-8:00 p.m.

Here are some things to know:
The training is a 2-hour Zoom training and a self-guided PowerPoint.

Requests to serve as a trained support parent are unpredictable, and can be infrequent to a few times a year, depending on the specific diagnosis or condition that is requested. The average number of contacts between a Support Parent and a Referred Parent typically involves a few texts or emails to initially connect and then several phone calls to speak directly and offer support. A trained support parent always has the option to say, “I am too busy to take this on right now.”

You do not have to be an expert. Being able to listen with compassion and maintain confidentiality are the most important skills.

You are never alone. VFN Parent Match Coordinators are available to support any questions that arise.Serving as a trained support parent makes a huge difference to a parent who is experiencing a new diagnosis, bump in the road, or transition, etc. Referred parents report that just being able to connect with another parent “who gets it” reduces their stress and anxiety.

Please consider being a trained support parent. As one parent to another, your listening ear can make a huge difference! Apply by completing this application. Contact Mindy to register for the 2-hour zoom training and you will receive the training slides prior to the training to review at your own pace.

To register for the upcoming training, contact Mindy Deibler at mindy.deibler@vtfn.org by July 7, 2023.
News From the Puppets -
Cheers to a Successful School Year!
Hello Friends!

On May 24th, Puppets in Education performed their last show of the 2022­-2023 school year. After spending most of the last three years doing virtual programming, being in person all year was a special treat!

This school year, we performed 124 times in 35 different locations across Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts. We reached 6,818 people. Our most performed show was our Kindness & Stress program, and the most-requested topic for future shows was bullying prevention.

We’d like to send special thanks to a few friends who helped us out this year. Linda Darlington volunteered at several local schools throughout the year. Our intern Kylie Patrick was a tremendous asset this spring. And we can’t forget our puppeteer-in-training, Zarek! We also saw one of our longtime puppeteers, Deb Lyons, retire.

We were so lucky to experience heartfelt connections with students in each of the schools. Kids everywhere shared their worries (from friendships to loss of loved ones, to nightmares and monsters under the bed) and what they do to lessen their worry. We learned so many new ways to take deep belly breaths this year!

We are already booking fall shows, so if you are interested in having us come to your school, please email Sarah Vogelsang-Card at sarah.vogelsang-card@vtfn.org. We are also hiring two per-diem puppeteers! Please visit our website for more information.

A huge thank you to everyone who supported us this school year. It makes a huge difference in the lives of the kids we reach. Here’s to an amazing 2023-24 school year!
Wellness Window!
Nepalese Sel Roti Recipe

Sel Roti is a traditional Nepalese sweet ring-shaped bread prepared during Dashain and Tihar festivals as well as for other special occasions like marriage and parties.

4 cups of rice flour
2.5 cups of wheat flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
10 Tablespoons of sugar
2 cups of vegetable oil for deep frying the bread
Spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamon and fenugreek

Step 1: To make the dough, combine the two flours with some water. Knead the dough vigorously and apply some water to create a somewhat sticky and fluid dough.
Step 2: Grind the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and fenugreek together and apply it to the dough. 
Step 3: Cover the dough with sugar and baking powder. Mix all the spices, sugar, and baking powder into dough thoroughly.
Step 4: Return the dough to a bowl to rest for about 3 hours at room temperature.
Step 5: In a frying pan, heat the vegetable oil and add successive small circular portions of the dough. Gently pour in a circular formation (through a funnel if possible).
Step 6: Wait until they become brown or golden, and confirm both sides are brown. 
Join Our Team!
We are currently seeking applicants for the following positions:

A full-time Family Support Consultant to to provide family centered information, referrals, and assistance to families of children with disability or special health needs, individuals, and professionals over the phone and in person, and through trainings and workshops.

A part-time to full-time Family Support Consultant - Mental Health (Outside of Chittenden County) to provide family centered information, referrals, and assistance to families of children with disability or special health needs, individuals, and professionals over the phone and in person, and through trainings and workshops. The Mental Health specialist supports families whose children are experiencing mental health or emotional behavioral issues.

Two per diem Assistant Puppeteers for the Puppets in Education program. This position runs from August 2023-June 2024. Hours will be dependent on presentation schedule, possible 8-16 hours per week. The puppeteers will deliver educational puppet programs on an array of essential topics statewide and beyond. Some overnight travel will be required. We will train the right person in the style of tabletop/hand and rod puppetry.
Upcoming Events - Register today!
Free Workshops

June 22 at 10:00 a.m. Register for "Transition Mapping"
This workshop is for individuals with disabilities, family members and anyone that supports transitions. We will explore how mapping helps with navigating transitions. We will go over features of maps and transitions in general and then apply mapping to the context of transitions. There are many types of maps and many types of transitions. Let's explore how to develop and use maps as tools for our transitions.
Presenter: Jayson Capobianco (he/him) - Family Resources Consultant & Postsecondary Transition Consultant for the Vermont Interdisciplinary Team (VT I-Team)

Almost 1000 Vermonters are taking advantage of this special program. Vermont ABLE allows individuals and families to save for disability-related expenses without jeopardizing federal benefits like Medicaid and Social Security Income. This presentation will review the basic structure of the program and discuss the latest changes to federal rules for the program. Presenter: Kirsten Murphy - Executive Director of the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council

Beginning again for the first time in three years, Vermonters with Medicaid will be reviewed on an annual basis. The restart of these reviews is already underway. Upon review, some Vermonters will no longer be able to receive Vermont Medicaid. This presentation will explain the renewal restart process and what steps Vermonters should take to ensure they have continuous health insurance coverage. Please note: this workshop WILL NOT BE RECORDED and must be watched live!
Presenters: Stacy DeSisto - Assister Program Manager and Bethany Ledoux - Assister Program Trainer both from the Department of Vermont Health Access

This webinar will explain: the rulemaking process that state agencies must follow to create or change regulations, what Public Comment is and what role it plays in the rulemaking process, where to find out when Medicaid Rules are open for Public Comment, how to write and submit your comments, and how public comments are considered in the rulemaking process.
Presenter: Rachel Seelig (she, her), Esq. - Director of the Disability Law Project at Vermont Legal Aid.

If you are unable to attend, you can still register and we’ll send you a recording of the workshop which you can watch on your own time.

In case you missed our last series of workshops, you can find a full list on our VFN website. Stay tuned as we add more workshops to our fall schedule!

We save workshops on our website and YouTube channel.
VFN Workshop Topics/Speakers Survey

We want to hear your ideas for our upcoming online workshops. What topics interest you? Are there presenters you would recommend?
Let us know your thoughts.
Contact Us. We Will Listen!
Helping Vermont Families thrive for more than 30 years
Join our closed Facebook group specifically for parents of adult children

for all parents

Contact our Helpline at (802) 876-5315 or info@vtfn.org
600 Blair Park Rd, Ste 240,
Williston, VT 05495