Who Are We?
We are a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting foster, kinship, and adoptive families of children and youth with disabilities and other special needs. We serve families, educators and child welfare professionals in the Northern Virginia area.
Formed Families Forward’s mission is to improve developmental, educational, social, emotional and post-secondary outcomes for children and youth with disabilities and other special needs through provision of information, training and support to adoptive and foster parents, and kinship caregivers.
Directions to Formed Families Forward Offices can be found HERE.
Who Are Formed Families?
- About 2½ percent of children under 18 years in the U.S. are adopted.
- An additional one percent of children are in foster care at any point in time.
- More than 450,000 children and youth enter foster care annually in the US; about 5250 children in Virginia are in foster care.
- Nearly 15% of children in Virginia are in adoptive, foster or kinship families (i.e., not related to the adult householder as a biological child or stepchild).
- So, in an average U.S. classroom, at least one student is adopted or in foster care, and more are in kinship families
- While many adopted and foster children are physically and emotionally healthy and experience educational success, some are at greater risk of emotional, behavioral and learning problems.
- Children who were adopted are significantly more likely than non-adopted peers to have or have had diagnoses of depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, behavior or conduct problems and have problems with social behavior.
- Children and youth in foster care and kinship care are at higher risk of having disabilities and requiring special education services. Some specific studies have found:
- Children and youth in foster care are significantly more likely to be identified as eligible for special education with an emotional or behavioral disturbance.
- More than a quarter of children who have substantiated maltreatment had been identified as having a disability; the most common type of disability was emotional disturbance, while other common disabilities included intellectual and developmental disabilities and learning disabilities.
- Children with substantiated maltreatment with disabilities were about two times more likely to be in out of home placement than children with substantiated maltreatment without disabilities.
- More than half of children in out of home care scored in the clinical range on standardized measures of mental health, with conduct disorders, ADHD, post traumatic stress disorder, depression and generalized anxiety disorder being the most prevalent disorders.
- Overall, more than a third of adopted children have special health care needs; more than half of children adopted from public foster care have special health care needs.
2016 5 year est. American Community Survey, US Census Bureau, national and northern Virginia data; 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health and 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents; Smithgall et al., cited in National Working Group on Foster Care and Education, December 2008; Zetter et al., 2004; Bay Area study, cited in National Working Group on Foster Care and Education, December 2008; Tirella, Chan, & Miller, 2006; Beverly et al., 2008; Geenen & Powers, cited in National Working Group on Foster Care and Education, December 2008; Lightfoot, Hill & LaLiberte, 2011; Tarren-Sweeney, 2013
Kelly Henderson, Ph.D. | Executive Director
A special educator by profession, Kelly is a former public school teacher of students with emotional and behavioral disorders, and has worked in national and federal special education policy and research settings. Kelly’s family is formed in part through public foster care and adoption. Her children have a range of learning, behavioral and cognitive disabilities for which they have received early intervention, special education and related services. Kelly has trained adoptive, foster and kinship families and agency personnel on special education-related needs of children and has provided information and supports to many individual families. Kelly also serves as part-time instructional faculty at George Mason University, training graduate students and special education teachers. Kelly believes that formed families must have information and advocacy tools to improve the delivery of appropriate services, and to increase the academic, social and behavioral outcomes for children and youth with special needs.
Lisa Mathey, M.Ed. | Training and Administrative Coordinator
Lisa parents two teenagers who joined her family through domestic adoption as infants. Prior to the adoptions, Lisa and her husband were certified foster parents for six years. Both children receive special education services through the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) system, giving Lisa insight to the importance of youth, parents, and caregivers having access to community resources and support to be an effective members of an IEP team. Professionally, Lisa has worked for statewide nonprofit associations and agencies providing support and resources to adoptive, foster, and kinship families to address their unique challenges as a formed family. Lisa plans and oversees our training events and conducts outreach activities to formed families and professionals.
Arica Payne, M.Ed. | Content Specialist
Arica is a special educator from the Northern Virginia area. She has taught children with learning and behavioral needs for the past 8 years. She holds a Master’s in Special Education from GMU, and a Bachelor’s in Mass Communications from VCU. Arica has worked with students and families from many social, cultural, and economic backgrounds, and is well-versed in special education processes and policies and how to navigate them. She has a deep passion for educational equity and providing holistic support to help every student meet their fullest potential. Arica creates trainings, webinars, and other informational resources to support formed families and professionals.
Sarah Smalls | Family Resource Coordinator
Sarah is a kinship caregiver to three grandchildren in the northern Virginia area. Formerly an executive administrator with the federal government, Sarah has worked part time as a parent liaison in a local Fairfax County elementary school and is the past Vice President of Kinship for FACES of Virginia Families (now NewFound Families). Sarah conducts intakes, coordinates resources and supports families in their efforts to meet the special education needs of the children in their care.
Beth Spivack, MSW | Family Support and Outreach Director
Beth worked in marketing communications at both for-profit and nonprofit organizations for a number of years, but was inspired to change careers and become a social worker after adopting a child internationally. She earned a Master of Social Work from VCU in 2014. In school she interned as a school social worker and addiction specialist. Since graduation Beth has worked with children and families in therapeutic foster care and adoption. Beth supports families and professionals through training and consultations, especially around topics related to childhood trauma, traumatic stress and building resiliency. Beth also supports family engagement efforts in our Virginia Tiered Systems of Supports work.
Danielle Bailey | Communications Specialist
Danielle works as a consultant to Formed Families Forward, coordinating our social media communication and outreach efforts.
Amy E. Bason, MSW
Amy is a parent to two children, one biological and one adopted. For 20 years she worked in all aspects of the adoption field. She started the journey as a birth parent counselor and went on to work with adoptive parents, both in preparation for adoption and as a support and resource post adoptive placement. Amy is a passionate adoption advocate, having both personal and professional ties to the issues. Amy is currently employed as a social work case manager in the healthcare field doing home visits with the geriatric population.
Kimberly Harrell, M.Ed., LPC, NCC, ACS | Board Chair
Kimberly is a parent to two sons. Kimberly has over 20 years of experience working with those whose lives have been touched by adoption, including birth parents, adoptees, adoptive parents and adoptive families. She is former adoption program director and is now in private practice in Northern Virginia where she works with individuals, families, and adolescents. Her passion for working on adoption-related issues continues in her practice. Kimberly regularly presents at conferences supporting adoption and foster care professionals. She also speaks to groups of mental health professionals to educate them on the adoption-related issues they may encounter in their practices.
Margaret Kajeckas, MPA
Margaret is a birth and adoptive mom to three children ages 14-20. As a Congressional staffer she worked on early education and child nutrition programs, then spent 13 years living in Africa working on maternal and child health issues. She is currently in her last year of a clinical Master’s of Social Work at George Mason University.
Bobbi and her husband are the birth parents of 4 children ranging in age from 16 – 27 years, and recent kinship caregivers of an 8-year-old nephew. Bobbi is the Community Wellness Coordinator in the Director’s Office at the Fairfax County Department of Family Services. Bobbi is well versed in IEP goal setting, as she has experienced advocating for her children’s educational needs over the years. She has a plethora of skills and understanding in the areas of Trauma Informed Care, Domestic Violence, Homelessness and Housing services. Bobbi is on track to graduate with her master’s in public administration degree from George Mason University in December 2020.
Carole W. Sebenick, Ph.D.
Carole is a mom of two children (now a teenager and young adult), who joined her family through international adoption. With them, she has navigated public, private and home school experiences. For more than 15 years, she has worked as a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice, with prior experience in university counseling and career centers, federal government, and nonprofit organizations. Carole has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology, counseling, and higher education at several universities in the Washington, DC, area and in South Florida.
Mary Oborski, MSW, LCSW
Mary is an adoptive parent to two young boys. For the past eight years she has been at home raising her two children. Before children, Mary worked in the adoption field. She counseled birth parents, assisted adoptive parents with their adoptions, and facilitated reunions between adult adoptees and their birth parents. As a social worker, Mary also worked for the military teaching parenting skills to young service members and service members who had PTSD and brain injuries.
Kathleen is a birth parent of five, and a kinship care provider. She is a trained foster parent who has completed the pre-placement training requirements. Kathleen has experience parenting a teenager with special needs as a kinship caregiver. Professionally, Kathleen is a general education elementary school teacher in Manassas City Public Schools.
Sarah grew up in a family that fostered and adopted from the time she was five years old. Sarah is the birth and adoptive mother to seven children, from age 3-18. Sarah and her husband have fostered over a dozen children throughout the past 14 years. Sarah has extensive IEP experience due to her children’s learning, behavioral and cognitive disabilities. They have received special education through early intervention, as well as elementary, middle and high school services. Sarah leads support groups and plays an active role in assisting other foster and adoptive parents in her community. Sarah and her husband were named ‘Foster Parents of the Year’ in Loudoun County in 2018 and received the ‘Angels of Adoption’ congressional award in 2018.