OUR FIRST MEETINGS
Meetings to form a consortium began in 1997 with the emerging recognition that adoptive families were in need of services after adoption as well as before and during the process. Writing a federal grant proposal helped to formulate a plan for developing post-adoption services and to formalize the relationship between the partners in the project whom would make up the Vermont Post-Adoption Consortium. The original members were DCF, Casey Family Services, Vermont Children's Aid Society, Northeast Kingdom Human Services (then called Futures), Adoption Advocates, and Easter Seals (then called Teaching Family Center).
During these beginning years, implementing the grant accomplished several goals. It began by defining post-adoption services at three levels of intensity. It provided funding for services to families not adopted through DCF. Additionally, training was funded and included monthly trainings as well as the first transracial adoption conference. During these years four additional agencies joined the Consortium: Lund Family Center, Family Life Services, VFAFA and Parent to Parent. All member agencies participated on committees to set and achieve the goals of the Consortium.
In 2001, the Consortium did not receive any grant funding. Members continued to go forward without funding and met regularly to work towards maintaining and improving services. DCF showed further commitment to post-adoption services by accessing funds to serve the increasing number of families.
In 2002, the Consortium received a second federal 3 year grant, with Easter Seals as the lead applicant. This grant included a full time staff person to coordinate the activities of the grant. The goals were to develop more consistent post-adoption services across the state, to provide education and training to parents, schools, and community groups about adoption and trauma related issues, and to develop creative respite options.
It was during this time that NFI and UVM/Child Welfare Training Partnership joined the group, as well as The Adoption Council. The Adoption Council was a group of private, licensed adoption agencies in Vermont. With the addition of this last group, the Consortium reshaped and strengthened its scope on adoption as a lifelong process.
By 2006, the Consortium was maintaining most of the activities and services developed under the original grant by securing an appropriation from the Vermont Legislature. A steering committee was added at this time to help to provide strategic planning and oversight. New members were added including Vermont Kin As Parents (VKAP) and the HowardCenter Child, Youth and Family Services. From 2007 - 2010, a central intake and referral line was offered as a service to streamline the process of accessing needs for families and community partners. It was also during this time that a website was developed to provide a resource for professionals and families.
Today, the agencies and members of the Vermont Adoption Consortium continue to work collaboratively and creatively to meet their goal of serving adoptive and guardianship families statewide. Resources are made available through their website, large lending library, and a quarterly e-newsletter. Continuous training is provided to all post permanence workers and conferences are held every year for professionals and families. Support groups, advocacy services, community resources and respite services are offered to families who need support. The Vermont Adoption Consortium believes that raising a child through adoption or guardianship is a lifelong process and is committed to providing support and information to everyone involved.