News and resources for members of the
JFS Connecting Hearts Family Alliance.
JFS Connecting Hearts has developed the Family Alliance to support and serve all families on their foster, adoptive, or kinship journeys in central Virginia. We welcome you and thank you for the you do every day to provide nurturing, safe, and stable homes for children.

The Family Alliance will offer a variety of services to support you and your family:

  • Virtual support network via Facebook
  • Educational tools to improve your experiences
  • Opportunities for you to help us recruit and support new families
  • Newsletters and email alerts to keep you up to date on what's happening statewide and nationally in foster, adoptive, and kinship care policies and laws

Please share this issue of the Alliance with friends and encourage them to join the Family Alliance!

Family Alliance membership is a free service to all foster, adoptive, and kinship families in Virginia thanks to the support of the Virginia Department of Social Services through the FAM-20-093 Grant Partnership.
Our Heart Gallery spotlight this month is Traverious!

Educational Resources
The Family Alliance will use this section of the newsletter to keep you informed about educational opportunities that may help your family navigate foster care, adoption, and kinship care.

This month, we are featuring an incredible resource from the National Foster Parent Association. With the support of the Centene Corporation, the National Foster Parent Association built an online training portal that offers free educational services, including training certificates, to foster, adoptive, and kinship families. The trainings include Trauma, FASD, Housing Supports, Birth Family Relationships, Social Media and so much more! Please click here to get started.

Support for You
Did you know that JFS Connecting Hearts has a Family Alliance Support group on Facebook? Beginning in October, we will have live Facebook support sessions each Tuesday at 8:00 PM.

During these support chats we will provide you with a weekly resource and take time for members to talk about what's happening in your home, the books you want to recommend, and whatever's on your mind. This support session is for you! It's here to help you find the support you need on Tuesday evenings and any time of day or night. Feel free to post questions, start chats, and reach out to other parents in the group. Grab a cup of warm chamomile tea and join us every Tuesday at 8:00 PM or whenever your need arises!

There is a tremendous focus right now on strategies for at home and virtual schooling. Together We Rise is an incredible source of support for children and their families. If you are impacted by the at home and virtual schooling reality, we think you may find this to be a helpful resource.
Laws and Policies
In this section of our newsletter, we will keep you informed about important laws or policies at the state or national level that could impact your family.

This month we focus on dental care for youth in foster care. Did you know dental and oral health care remains some of the most difficult health services to access for children and teens in foster care? Common dental and oral health problems include bottle tooth decay in young children and cavities in older children. In fact, according the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 35% of children and teens enter foster care with significant dental and oral health problems.

So, when Congresswoman Karen Bass of California introduced federal legislation to address the dental health needs of children in foster care, we thought you should know! Advocates may want to keep informed and be prepared to support this effort at the federal level. You can read the full text of this federal legislation proposal here.

Several national organizations are hopeful that this legislation may help bridge the gap in dental care for young adults in foster care. Here is a summary of the bill by the Child Welfare League of America.

New to the world of laws and regulations? There's a section on our website about federal and state laws, regulations, and policies, including how to let your voice be heard. Click here to start reading.
Upcoming Events
Words from Denise

I am Denise Wise-David, the Program Manager of JFS Connecting Hearts. I started this journey six months ago, and each day brings new and exciting things to learn about children in care who need loving homes! I am a fictive parent, a person known to the family but not related, and my sons were teenagers who lived in the same community. I don't regret a moment of sharing my home with them as a single parent.

The vision of JFS Connecting Hearts is to assist the Local Departments of Social Services to recruit prospective foster or adoptive parents and find loving homes for every child in Central Virginia's foster care system. We are planning exciting live discussions with foster, adoptive, kinship, or fictive parents, educational sessions, and recruitment events. Remember, this is not a secret: you are encouraged to invite people who you know that care about the mission of providing a loving home for vulnerable children.

Our Heart Gallery shares the stories and portraits of children and youth in foster care awaiting adoption. We invite you to visit the Heart Gallery on our new website. Please contact me at to discuss how you can change the life of a child in foster care.
Meet the JFS Connecting Hearts Team
Denise Wise-David is so excited to be working with JFS Connecting Hearts to help find children in foster care permanent and adoptive families. Denise is originally from New York City, but escaped the cold and came to Virginia 1989. Denise has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Human Services and a background in training Community Health Workers. She lives in the Church Hill neighborhood and works to empower her neighbors in the community. You can reach her at

Jessica Carty has worked in the foster and adoption fields for almost two decades. In addition to JFS Connecting Hearts, she also works part time for JFS in their adoption program. She has completed the Training for Adoption Competency and is available to counsel families and children before and after adoption. Jessica comes with a great understanding of grief and loss as well as experience working with families of origin. She looks forward to helping expand and enhance the already thriving Connecting Hearts program in order to find each and every child a permanent, loving home. You can reach her at

Cate Hawks is the Collaboration Consultant for JFS Connecting Hearts and manages the Family Alliance. Cate has served in the child welfare and behavioral health services for thirty years. She is an advocate for improved services and supports for families, whether through behavioral health, developmental services, or child welfare. She received her master’s from the University of Illinois in Child, Family, and Community Services and serves as the Secretary to the Board of the National Foster Parent Association. You can reach her at

Becki Mann is the Chief Impact Officer of JFS and provides support and oversight for Connecting Hearts. Becki brings the skills from her career in marketing, communications, and philanthropy to guide JFS Connecting Hearts to achieve the goal of finding families for all children in Virginia's foster care system. She values the relationships we develop as we work to help wonderful families find special children to join them. You can reach her at

Mariah Stapel is a bachelor's student of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University and the intern for JFS Connecting Hearts. She has experience working with a young, diverse population in classroom and individual settings. Mariah is also working on completing a minor in Spanish. You can reach her at

Morgan Goad is JFS’ Associate Director of Development and the media relations specialist for JFS Connecting Hearts. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Colorado Boulder. A former teacher of college and high school students, she appreciates the opportunity to help children find supportive, loving homes. You can reach her at