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.
Find our Equity Commitment statement HERE.
Directions to Formed Families Forward Offices can be found HERE.
Who Are Formed Families?
- About two percent of children under 18 years in the U.S. in adoptive homes. (US Census, ACS, 2019)
- Another two percent of children are in foster care in the US. (US Census, ACS, 2019)
- Over 11 % of children in US are in households headed by grandparents or other relatives; this is called kinship care. (US Census, ACS, 2019)
- 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. (US Census, ACS, 2019)
- In a U.S. classroom of 30 students, on average, 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.
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.
Bianca Martin, CPRS | Outreach and Family Support Specialist
Bianca Martin is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist who serves the community by using her lived experience. Bianca and her husband are former kinship foster parents with Fairfax County and have legal custody of their nephew, who has mental health and learning challenges. Bianca has experience navigating special education for her family as well as those with whom she works as a Family Support Partner at another nonprofit organization. She also facilitates peer-run support groups for caregivers of children or adults with mental health challenges. At FFF, Bianca supports foster, adoptive and kinship families on their parenting journey, and manages our outreach efforts.
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.
Renee Myers, NCSP | Content Specialist
Renee is a graduate of the University of Maryland and The Pennsylvania State University. She is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist who worked in both the Prince William County, VA and Charles County, MD school systems before “retiring” to become a full-time mom and community volunteer. In addition to her professional training and experience with special education, Renee has personally navigated the system for two of her children, one of whom was adopted from China. At FFF, Renee is committed to providing parents and caregivers with user friendly resources to help them access the special education and disability services their children need to be successful.
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.
Sarah Smalls | Kinship Family Consultant
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). She is a member of the federal Advisory Council to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren convened by US Department of Health and Human Services. Sarah served as FFF’s Family Resource Coordinator from 2011 to 2020; she now consults with FFF on issues related to kinship care regionally and statewide.
Danielle Bailey | Communications Specialist
Danielle works as a consultant to Formed Families Forward, coordinating our social media communication and outreach efforts.
Marcos Correa, MS
Originally from San Antonio, TX, Marcos has lived in the Washington, DC area for the past 15 years working for U.S. Department of State. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology of Organizations and Masters of Science in Organizational Management. Marcos is married to his husband Christopher with whom he adopted their beautiful daughter in March 2020 named Harper Luna. Both Marcos and Chris are over the moon with the addition to their family unit! Marcos, Chris, and Harper live in Alexandria, Virginia with their dog, Sir Oliver Winston!
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, MSW, 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 holds a Master’s of Social Work at George Mason University and works as a therapist in a local private practice.
Bobbi Mason, MA, MPA
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nancy Thompson, Esq.
Nancy is a mom to one adult daughter who she and her husband adopted as an infant 18 years ago. She is a retired lawyer with experience in Law School administration, corporate compliance, policy making and regulation. During the past 12 years, she has been active in PTA leadership in Fairfax County and has extensive IEP advocacy experience. As a parent to a young adult on the autism spectrum, Nancy is committed to improving academic services and expanding post-graduate opportunities for students with disabilities in Virginia.
Pamela is a birth parent of four and a kinship adoptive mom to one. In the past Pamela has been a foster parent to two children. Professionally, Pamela is in the business administration field for a government contracting company in Herndon, VA.
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.