November 18, 2015

“A Table Full of Unconditional Love” – A Project Family Adoption Story

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Project Family tagged , , , , at 11:36 am by Lund

“The visual of the night he came into custody is forever burned in my memory. The sights, smells and sounds trapped in my muscle memory so different than any of the other memories I have. How late it was, how sad he was, how relieved he was when he saw it was me waiting for him. Even now that picture brings tears to my eyes. I cannot believe that three years have flown by because truly it feels like just yesterday.

At first he was with me “just the weekend” and that first weekend was pure fun. Trying to keep his mind off of things, showing him around the farm, driving the tractor, making s’mores over the fire.  It wasn’t until the following week when he found out he wouldn’t be going home for at least 3 months that things got real. The honeymoon was over. All bets were off and I met the angriest, saddest, guiltiest, most self loathing little eight year old boy there ever was.

And even then in our darkest hours he was also plainly the sweetest most compassionate, brilliant glowing ember I am sure I will ever know. People ask me how I could see that in him so clearly when so much was trying to quash his true self. I don’t know. And yet, there it was. Big as life for anyone who spent time with him to see.   Never has there been a more committed team of people from Project Family, DCF, the school, and mental health to Post-Permanence Services. I continue to feel that this group of people truly created a positive outcome where there could have been a much different one. We had this table full of unconditional love that just wouldn’t give up.

I should interject here that there were certainly moments when I thought I couldn’t go on, times when the boulder felt too heavy. There were thousands of dollars of property damage, physical aggression that left me
breathless and bleeding and the running away!!!!! That was tough. It was the self harm though and threats to self that finally pushed me to ask for a higher level of care.  It took three bouts of residential in two different places as well as a couple of short term crisis placements to teach, heal and nurture my child to the point of stability but we made it. He has been living at home for over a year now. He has friends. Real friends, the kind who invite him over for sleepovers and to their birthday parties. It may sound like just a normal kind of kid thing but it isn’t. Recently when he got his first base hit the bleachers and dugout were full of screaming children and adults. He is all of ours. To know him is to love him and he is enveloped in a community of love.

Credit: Steve Allen, Creative Commons on Flickr

Credit: Steve Allen, Creative Commons on Flickr

He used to say that his dream was to one day be a normal kid. Somehow, that reality just snuck up on us. Here he is, my normal, so much more than normal, football playing, avid reading, friendly, well balanced kid.

I hope anyone reading this doesn’t think I have blinders on to the reality of our world and what it may always be because I don’t and I recognize that statistically we are an anomaly and that this may be short lived. Every time we have a good day it goes in the savings to be stockpiled for the next storm. Man, do we have a small fortune in there right now.

-Bianca, Adoptive Mom

August 14, 2015

Vermont’s children and families need people like Lara Sobel

Posted in Commentary, DCF tagged , , , , at 10:04 am by Lund

The recent murder of Vermont Department of Children and Families social worker Lara Sobel outside the Barre State Office Building where she worked was a senseless tragedy that has affected the entire State of Vermont profoundly. For those that work in human services, the impact weighs heavily on the hearts and minds of those charged with continuing the work of keeping children safe and helping families thrive.  With the loss of Lara, we have lost an passionate advocate and dedicated professional.  We know that she improved the lives of so many people in her short time on earth.

The business of helping families is challenging and for social workers within the Department for Children and Families even more so.   Their work is frequently challenged and critiqued without the public knowing the full information.  We are facing increasingly challenging times in our State with the prevalence of addiction and mental illness and the lack of adequate capacity to serve the children and families that need our help.  Now, more than ever, Vermont’s children and families need people like Lara Sobel.  Lund’s Director of Residential and Community Treatment, Kim Coe, states, “At Lund we are proud to work closely with DCF and to support them in their work to make life safer, healthier and happier for Vermont’s children and their families. We honor Lara’s life by continuing to carry forward the mission that she lived by and believed in, all children deserve the right to live safe and healthy lives.”

Lund is committed to the safety of our staff who work in the community teaching family education, providing adoption support services, conducting substance abuse screening and assessment, and supporting clients in their recovery. The security of our workers is key as we support them in delivering the best possible services to men, women and children safely, with confidence and without fear or excessive worry.  We have taken immediate steps to review our safety protocols and provide opportunities for staff members to discuss their concerns.

We are firmly committed to our shared mission with DCF of helping to make life better for children in Vermont. We will support them and stand in solidarity at this very sad and frightening time.  In honor of Lara and all the people that dedicate their lives to improving others, we shall remain steadfast in our pursuit of safety and well-being for all children.

Flowers

July 1, 2015

Adoption Support Group in Brattleboro – Guest Post by Graham Kidder

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Events, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , , , , at 10:25 am by Lund

In my role as Permanency Planning Counselor for Lund and Project Family, I facilitate an adoption support group for adoptive families in Brattleboro, Vermont with my colleague, Danna Bare who is a Post Permanence Specialist for Lund. The group meets from 6:30 to 8:30 on the second Monday of every month at the Brattleboro Savings and Loan community room.

I co-founded the group with Nancy Birge (formerly with Casey Family Services) in 2003. The group was called ‘Adoption Support for Families of Younger Children’, and was designed as a group to offer support and guidance for families of younger children, who might otherwise be scared by some of the stories and experiences shared by families with teenagers. While the group maintains its original name, several of the original members continue to attend the group; hence the group is no longer solely for parents with younger children.

This adoption support group is a safe and supportive environment for parents to share the joys and frustrations of parenting. The format is based on what families need.  We usually check in to see if anyone has any burning issues they need to discuss.  We split the time up depending on the number of participants, and try to allow for everyone to have equal time to talk.  Group members understand that sometimes they will need a little extra time, but there are also usually members who don’t need their full allotment.   When a participant starts, he or she can let us know whether they are looking for advice, or just need to vent. Parents know that what they share in group remains confidential, and will not circulate back into the community. Parents have expressed gratitude for having a space where they can talk about how frustrated they sometimes become, knowing that the group members recognize that they still love their children even if the stories they share don’t always convey that love.

CC Image Courtesy of Emilio P. Doiztua on Flickr

CC Image Courtesy of Emilio P. Doiztua on Flickr

Group members have truly formed a supportive environment for each other, and they come to recognize that they are not alone.  Danna and I often find ourselves observing as group members empathize with each other’s struggles, and offer advice and encouragement.  Members often talk about how in stressful situations at home they often remember some advice from the group, and are able to tap into that knowledge to help themselves through the moment.

We welcome new members, whether you have adopted internationally or locally, either through public state adoption or private agency. If you are interested in learning more about the group, please do not hesitate to contact me or Danna.

Graham Kidder – Permanency Planning Counselor for Lund and Project Family  – (802) 368-7260 – grahamk@lundvt.org
Danna Bare – Post Permanence Counselor  –  (802) 258-0308 –  dannab@lundvt.org

 

 

 

graham@lundvt.org

June 10, 2015

‘I found my home’ – The real voice of foster care

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , at 12:07 pm by Lund

Sierra was adopted through foster care at age five. She has memories of her previous foster homes and living with her birth parents. As part of a school project, Sierra wrote about her story. Her poem, “I’m Just an Orphan” captures the experiences of early trauma, foster care, and adoption. Her writing is expressive and provoking. Sierra shows courage and awareness in writing about her story. She is willing to share her poem in hopes to create more awareness about the adoption journey for adoptive parents, service providers, and educators. Sierra also hopes other adoptees will read her poem and know they are not alone.

 

I’m Just an Orphan

From the day I was born,

I’m pretty sure everyone knew I was different,

The parents at each and every house I went to,

They would treat me different too,

They treated me like I had no brain,

When really I knew it wouldn’t last there either.

 

I finally got a real house,

A real family,

More siblings too,

Animals,

And even food,

Something that you think everyone should have,

But that’s not the cold hard truth.

 

I started going to church with my new mom,

Her mom too,

Sitting in the back row,

Felling judged,

But also feeling at home.

 

Listening about how God has a plan for everyone.

Everything happens for a reason,

Questioning my faith,

 

Well if everything happens for a reason,

Why the hell did this happen to me?

Why do I listen to fighting,

And witness my birth mom getting hurt?

Why did my parents get into drugs,

And treat me like I was worthless,

Pretend I wasn’t there one minute,

Then yelling at me and throwing stuff the next,

Did they not think I was too young to remember what they did,

Did they not realize that someday I’d be looking at my ceiling and wondering,

What did I do wrong?

 

Why didn’t you love me,

What was wrong with me,

Why didn’t you care?

 

I thought that was all done,

I thought you were finally out of my life,

I thought I could move on,

It was time so I did.

 

Christmas came,

My first real Christmas,

I got real presents,

Not just stuff that could have been stolen,

I got food,

Not just scraps that weren’t eaten,

Smiles and laughing,

Not tears and yelling,

The feeling of warmth running through my veins,

The love I could feel,

The love I could feel until the end.

 

I thought I was done with you,

I thought you were in the past,

I have a new family,

A new family that will last,

But I started school and the teachers gave us a task,

What they asked, Made me think different about myself and I know now you’re going to last.

 

My teacher said we all have to do a task about our family,

What parent you look like,

What parent you act like,

When did you start to talk,

When did you start to walk,

All these questions in my head,

They make me feel well dead.

 

How am I suppose to know,

These are my parents,

You can see it,

I can too,

But these aren’t my biological parents,

None of us know these answers,

So how am I suppose to?

 

It’s not my fault,

I didn’t mean to,

If you want me to be honest,

I don’t know what to do,

I think of them all the time,

What I did wrong,

Why they didn’t care.

Not everyone lives or knows their mom or dad,

So why should I have to do this,

To remind me that I’m different,

Or to remind me that they didn’t care,

Truth be I think about it all the time and I don’t think it’s fair.

 

But now kids have started saying stuff,

Stuff that keeps me up at night,

Stuff that should never be said,

Stuff that keeps running through my head.

 

They look and they stare,

Trying to pick something out on me to make me feel bad,

As I’m walking through the hallway,

I can start to hear them saying,

She’s the one, who could be at different houses different days,

Then I go home to get away from everything,

Then I that that DING,

The,

You have a message DING,

Dreading opening it after that day,

I bite my lip and do it anyway.

As I hold back my tears,

I reread it over and over again,

The words stinging the back of my head,

Reminding me of all the hell that people have said,

This one is the worst,

 

This one is always in my head,

“IF THE TWO PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO WERE SUPPOSE TO LOVE YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING COULDN’T NO ONE CAN”

 

I know what they mean,

I feel it too,

How do they love me,

Is it true,

They say I’m amazing,

They say I’m worth it,

They say everything I’ve never been told,

I try to believe them, but because of everything people say,

It gets harder every day.

 

But I know I’m worth it,

I know I’m amazing,

I know I can be loved,

My parents chose me,

Yours are stuck with you,

And I know that to be true.

 

But this is life,

We are all just orphans,

The only difference is,

I found my home,

Have you?

March 10, 2015

Outreach and Information is Key in Finding Homes for Children in Foster Care

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Employees, Events, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , , , at 3:13 pm by Lund

February 21, 2015: Ashley Sargent, Lund’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiter set up an informational booth at the University Mall in South Burlington as part of NFI’s 4th Annual Youth and Parent Expo.  This event provides information and resources to families as well as lots of hands on activities and fun.  Ashley’s main goal was to inform the public about children in foster care waiting for forever families and encourage people to learn more about foster care. “I believe it is important for Wendy’s Wonderful Kids and Project Family (Lund’s partnership with DCF to find homes for older children in foster care) to have a presence there to help inform individuals that every child deserves a loving and nurturing family that will support them. Every child is adoptable and it is important to provide recruitment and informational events to educate families. On any given day there are about 60 children in foster care that are waiting for families to adopt them. The youth on my caseload are typically over the age of 8 years old and individuals need to be aware that even older youth need families.”

 

Ashley at the Expo

Ashley at the Expo

Ashley works as part of Lund’s partnership with Wendy’s Wonderful Kids which is a program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.  The Wendy’s Wonderful Kids website gives this description of Ashley’s work and that of the other 203 recruiters across the U.S. and Canada – “These professionals, known as Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters, work on caseloads of children the system has forgotten, ensuring they have the time and resources to give each child as much attention as he or she deserves. These recruiters employ aggressive practices and proven tactics focused on finding the best home for a child through the starting points of familiar circles of family, friends and neighbors, and then reaching out to the communities in which they live.” (www.davethomasfoundation.org)

Many people just don’t know that there are older children in foster care in need of permanent homes and forever families.  Events like this one allow people a chance to learn more and to find out what they could do to help.   “During the event people were most interested in speaking about how they wish they could help the youth; but that they were currently unable to. I was able to refocus them on seeing if they have any friends, family, etc, that would open their heart and home to the youth,” says Ashley.   Families are created in many different way and families find each other in many different ways so every outreach event has the potential to start a chain of action or open up a door for a youth currently in foster care.

To learn more about Wendy’s Wonderful Kids and their child centered recruitment, check out this video.

January 30, 2015

Coffee and Conversation at the Statehouse

Posted in Board of Trustees Spotlight, DCF, Employees, Events, New Horizons Educational Program tagged , , , , , , at 5:04 pm by Lund

Access to the Statehouse in Montpelier and the politicians who work in Vermont’s beautiful capital is very easy. You have to go around to the side doors in winter as the impressive front entrance has too many steps to easily shovel, but no one will question you about your identity or your business there. If you happen to be carrying a large, unwieldy box it’s even quite likely that a friendly security officer or a passing legislator will hold the door open for you. State government in Vermont is accessible and open to hearing what the people have to say. Lund took the opportunity on Friday, January 23 to connect with legislators by inviting them to an informational coffee hour to learn about Lund’s programs that are designed to help Vermont’s children and families.   For,  decades Lund has worked with the state of Vermont to provide education, treatment, adoption and family support services to Vermont families through contracts and grant agreements with the Vermont Agency of Human Services and the Agency of Education. Through these and other collaborative partnerships, Lund has been able to reach over 3,400 individuals from over 1,500 families last year. The time that Lund staff and board of trustee members spent at the Statehouse was a chance to share the scope and depth of  its work with elected officials from all over Vermont.

Lund’s Executive Director, Barbara Rachelson has been the representative for Burlington’s Chittenden 6-6 district since 2012 and brings her extensive experience working for and running various nonprofit organizations to her work in state government. “It’s important that our legislature hear about the challenges that the children and families we work with have, so that we can work to make Vermont a place where every child and family can be safe and successful,” says Barbara.   “Being able to talk about the plight of the poor, homeless, addicted, or abused is important, as is being able to talk about human services systems and work of the nonprofit sector. This is the first hand experience that I can bring to the legislature.”   Barbara was able to introduce many fellow members in the Vermont House of Representatives and members of the Vermont State Senate to her colleagues at Lund and connect them over pressing current issues such as child protection, early education, the experience of incarcerated women and other aspects of Lund’s work.

Lund staff and board members at the Statehouse.

Lund staff and board members at the Statehouse.

Lund’s focus at this event was Results Based Accountability (RBA). Over the past year all Lund staff were trained in the Results Based Accountability framework and then participated in establishing performance measures for each Lund program that focus on outcomes that will answer the most vital question, ‘Are People Better Off?’ Lund strongly values continuous improvement of all its programs and reviews are conducted regularly. Lund staff have also worked with contract managers of department areas of the Agency of Human Services to use Results Based Accountability to look at performance measures across contracts/grants in an effort find efficiencies and improvements. Lund is a leader in Vermont in using RBA and is committed to statewide efforts to promote the use of the system among other non-profits. The state is similarly committed to Results Based Accountability to ensure that it is getting the data driven results that  it expects from its investments.   Legislators were interested in the results of our recent programreview of New Horizons Education Program based on our newly established performance measures, and were appreciative of Lund’s reports and handouts which they will be able to use in committee discussions.

Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services, Kim Coe, spent much of her time at the coffee hour talking with people she has known and interacted with during her almost 30 years working in the human services arena in Vermont. Kim and many Lund staff are advocates for the families Lund serves and therefore look for opportunities to be a resource and voice whenever relevant to the issue at hand. “The Vermont Legislature is an extension of ourselves, it is our neighbors, our friends, our business partners. These are real people that are directly connected to what is happening for all Vermonters,” says Kim. “We are so fortunate to live in a state that affords citizens the opportunity to shake the hand of policy makers and to have direct discussions about issues most important to Vermonters. Our citizen legislature prioritizes the voice of its constituents.”

After the coffee hour, Lund staff and board members went to the floor of the House of Representatives to be introduced by Rep. Rachelson and to be recognized by the members of the House. It is a wonderful privilege to sit in the antique red velvet chairs under a portrait of George Washington and see the workings of state government first hand. The formality of the setting and the procedures are made friendly and welcoming by the smiles and whispered greetings of the legislators sitting near the front.

As you prepare to leave Montpelier, it is hard not to take one last look at the golden dome of the State House with its statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, standing guard on top, without feeling that actually everyone in Vermont  part of what is happening inside.

 

November 20, 2014

“Love Builds a Family” –

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Events, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , at 2:36 pm by Lund

“He’s finally my brother!” Said one little girl as the adoption of her brother was finalized this morning at the Chittenden County Probate Court in Burlington.  This finalization was one of 12 happening in Burlington which, when combined with 10 in St. Albans and seven in Woodstock, makes a record breaking 29 adoption finalizations in one day.  29 new families were created today through the work of  Lund’s partnership with the Department of Children and Families – Project Family and Lund’s adoption program.

There were balloons, stuffed animals, flowers and cookies for every adopted child and the waiting area outside the court room was packed with an ever rotating crew of friends, relatives, Lund employees and DCF employees as adoption finalizations happened every 15 minutes.  In the courtroom, the prodigious Judge Susan Fowler presided over the adoptions and made every one a party with music, balloons and letting the children bang the gavel.  “I’ll let you off making the speech we were expecting from you,” she said to one 19 month old. “Let’s make this official.”  She handed him the gavel and waited patiently while he put it in his mouth before encouraging him to bang it on the table.  “Give me my baby brother,” an older sister cried the minute the gavel hit the table, scooping her new little brother off his mom’s lap and lifting him high into the air.

Helium balloons wait for every child adopted today. Celebrate!

Helium balloons wait for every child adopted today. Celebrate!

The children adopted this morning were aged between 6 months and twelve years.  There was a little girl who was celebrating her birthday on the same day as her adoption, a little boy flanked by the proudest grandparents in a 100 mile radius, “He’s such a joy, such a blessing,” his grandmother said to me, another boy so excited he couldn’t stop jumping up and down and a family who were adopting their seventh child after fostering more than 100 children.  Everywhere you looked were smiles, happy tears, and hugs.  Even the security guard was getting into the swing of things clapping as the families came out of the courtroom and handing out chocolate.  ‘It’s going to be boring here tomorrow,” he said regretfully.

The scene will be repeated this afternoon at the courthouse in St. Albans and at different times of the day in Woodstock.   “Love builds a family,” said one Dad. “Adoption is that love.”

Watch news coverage of the days events from Fox 44 here

November 18, 2014

Lund Celebrates National Adoption Month

Posted in Adoption, DCF, Events, Foster Care Program, Project Family tagged , , , , , , , at 12:04 pm by Lund

Every November, a Presidential Proclamation launches activities and celebrations to help build awareness of adoption throughout the nation. Thousands of community organizations arrange and host programs, events, and activities to share positive adoption stories, challenge the myths, and draw attention to the thousands of children in foster care who are waiting for permanent families.  At this time, there are 68 children in Vermont who need forever families and permanent homes.   Lund’s partnership with the Department of Children and Families, Project Family, is working hard to find homes for these children.  Last year Project Family found homes for 169 children who had been living in foster care or in residential treatment environments.

To celebrate National Adoption Month, Lund in partnership with  the Department of Children and Families  will finalize 29 adoptions this coming Thursday, November 20th, at three court houses across the state.  This is a record for Lund and the Department of Children and Families and a record for Vermont.  29 children will go to bed on Thursday night knowing that they never again have to wonder where they belong or who will look out for them when they need help.

Also in celebration of National Adoption Month, we are sharing some micro interviews with our adoption staff.  Get to know these fabulous people and their work to make sure that every child has a home, below:  (Click on the picture to view it larger)

julia#human

 

 

donna#humanKarisa#human

 

kate#human

christina#human

 

September 11, 2013

Project Family Wins Prestigious Congressional ‘Angel In Adoption’ Award

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Adoption, Awards, DCF, Project Family tagged , , , , , at 3:37 pm by Lund

Wanda Audette, Director of Adoption at Lund was in meetings all day in Brattleboro on Monday and it took a call from Executive Director, Barbara Rachelson, to make her pause and step out of the meeting.  Barbara had important news to share.  Project Family, an innovative partnership between Lund and the Vermont Department of Children and Families headed by Wanda and Diane Dexter, Adoption Chief at DCF, had won an Angel in Adoption™ award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI).

“Receiving the Angel in Adoption™ is a wonderful honor,” says Wanda.  “ For me personally it reinforces that others agree with the importance that every child deserves a forever family that provides them with an unconditional relationship .  Having a family is a right for every child, not a privilege.”

Wanda in her office in Lund's new building at 50 Joy Drive.

Wanda in her office in Lund’s new building at 50 Joy Drive.

The  Angel in Adoption™ program is the CCAI’s signature public awareness campaign and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad.  Each year, more than 140 Angels are honored through the Angel in Adoption™ program.

Project Family was founded in 2000 when Diane learned that children were being brought in from out of state to be adopted in Vermont and Wanda learned that there  was a list of children waiting in foster homes in Vermont who had been deemed unadoptable.  For both women, this was unacceptable.  “We at Project Family believe that there are no unadoptable children only unfound homes and we are committed to making sure that every child has a family,” says Wanda.

“It’s really wonderful to win this award.   If you had told me 20 years ago that we would be where we are now, I wouldn’t have believed you.  It’s an amazing feat of collaboration. The DCF family service social workers work with the DCF Project Family staff and the Lund Project Family staff to achieve the highest degree of permanence and well-being for every child.   The most important thing is the continuity of care providers in children’s lives,”says Diane.

Last year (July 1st 2012 – June 30th 2013) 170 children were adopted through Project Family.  This is an amazing change from the statistics before the forming of Project Family.  Another radically improved statistic is that the median time between custody and adoption is 23.8 months.   A vast improvement and under the state’s goal of 24 months. Children are joining forever families because of Project Family.

Wanda and Diane will attend a gala in Washington D.C. on October 9th where all the angels from around the country and three celebrity recipients (Korie and Willie Robertson from ‘Duck Dynasty’ and Deborra Lee Furness Jackman) will be honored for their contributions to finding homes for children through adoption.

Both of the ladies will be familiar with the lay of the land in D.C as both have won this award before once each individually and once together.  To win again is a wonderful achievement and such a great opportunity to bring awareness to foster care adoption in Vermont.  One adoptive parents says of Wanda, “You know what? They say that there are no angels on earth but I think that there are some and that they just hide their wings well.  I think that Wanda is one of those people.”

Everyone at Lund is very proud of the work of Project Family, Wanda, Diane and staff members both at Lund and at DCF who strive every day to find homes for children.  CONGRATULATIONS!

Learn more about Project Family

June 10, 2013

Barbara Rachelson Presents on the Vermont Regional Partnership Grant on Capitol Hill

Posted in DCF, Employees, From The Executive Director, Residential, RPG tagged , , , , at 1:20 pm by Lund

Barbara (on far right of presenter's table) at the policy briefing on Capitol Hill.

Barbara (on far right of presenter’s table) at the policy briefing on Capitol Hill.

Thursday June 6th, Washington D.C. – Barbara Rachelson, Executive Director of Lund, spoke to over 110 staffers, including representatives from Congressman Welch and Senator Sanders’ offices, at a Capitol Hill Policy Briefing today on ‘Substance Use Disorders in Child Welfare’. Rachelson’s focus was on the outcomes of the Regional Partnership Grant awarded by the federal government to Lund and the Vermont’s Department of Children and Families Family Services Division’s Burlington District Office (DCF) for implementation between 2007-2012.

“The families we serve have multi-faceted, complex needs. Families are often not only struggling with addiction and mental health disorders, but additionally most of our mothers have experienced significant trauma through domestic violence, child abuse, neglect and poverty. Through Lund’s continuum of services and community partnerships we can provide our mothers and their families with treatment, education and family support services they crucially need for their recovery, as well as for their successful development as parents and productive members of our community,” says Rachelson as she introduced Lund’s programs and services to the audience on Capitol Hill.

Barbara spoke of the positive outcomes of Vermont’s Regional Partnership Grant, “As an RPG grantee from 2007 – 2012, we were able to demonstrate that to ensure the safety, permanency and well-being of children affected by their parent’s substance abuse, our community requires a cross system approach that is intentional about its collaboration and integrated in its service delivery.” Vermont’s RPG addressed systemic and practice challenges that are barriers to optimal family outcomes. Rachelson reported in DC, “The grant enabled Lund to partner with our child welfare agency in a way new to Vermont. The collaborative results of Vermont’s RPG are outstanding. Although child and adult outcomes were significant and positive for families served. It is important to emphasize that the collaborative structures developed have shifted the culture of how systems are currently working together in our community.”

“Families have told us time and time again – the single most important factor for their progress in treatment and improvement in family functioning is having the help available when they need it.  The service delivery model implemented by Vermont’s RPG helps us to meet this need,” said Rachelson to federal policy makers highlighting the important potential of this model to be replicated elsewhere in the state.

Despite the successful outcomes of this grant, funding has not been renewed. Lund and DCF are working to identify new sources of support to continue the positive impact of Vermont’s RPG. The legacies of this grant in the Burlington area are the development of an innovative service delivery model that is the foundation for a more coordinated approach to child welfare for families affected by parental substance use disorders. The children and families who participated in the grant experienced 1) a measureable increase in well being, 2) increased timeliness of treatment and service delivery; and 3) improved case management services for families.