(802) 876-5315
Strong Families. Strong Futures.
Greetings, VFN family and friends!
I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself as the Interim President/CEO. I grew up the youngest of four children in Montpelier. After graduating from UVM and marrying my childhood sweetheart, I became the at home parent to our three children for 10 years. I joined VFN 15 years ago when my youngest was starting preschool and have held various positions, my most recent as the Vice President of Operations which I am still holding along with my Interim President/CEO role. I am excited to have this opportunity to ensure VFN continues to thrive during this period of transition. I would also like to thank and recognize our incredible Leadership Team, VFN board members and staff who have been so supportive to me as I learn to navigate my new role.

As we make our way into Spring and while COVID case counts decline, VFN staff will begin to shift to a hybrid work model. We are all looking forward to having the opportunity for in person collaboration again with our colleagues after being apart for so many months. We are so excited to finally be able to provide our Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy conference on April 14th after having to suspend our annual, in-person conference for the last two years. We encourage families and interested professionals to sign up as soon as possible!

Puppets in Education performed their first live show for 2022 at North Hero Elementary School. The team was thrilled to be able to provide their Kindness Program to students in K-4th grade and their Anxiety Workshop to 5th and 6th graders. Family Support has been very busy on our helpline, supporting families at IEP meetings and Act 264 meetings, hosting Sibshops, providing Support Parent Trainings, and testifying to the Education Committees for both the house and senate. We are also in the midst of planning the upcoming Leadership Series and a Supported Decision Making workshop, both of which will be happening this summer. Stay tuned for more information on these incredible opportunities for families.

As we move through Spring, we excited for this period of transition and to continue to empower and support all Vermont children, youth, and families, especially those with disabilities or special health needs.

From the heart,
Sarah Wallace-Brodeur
Interim CEO/President
Last two weeks to register!
2022 Annual Conference
"Wrightslaw - Special Education Law and Advocacy"

April 14, 2022
from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
(with registration and exhibits opening at 8:00 a.m.)
In person* at the
Delta Hotel by Marriott Burlington

We are excited to welcome Pete Wright, Esq. from Wrightslaw to present on Special Education Law and Advocacy. This full-day training program is designed to meet the needs of parents, educators, health care providers, advocates and attorneys. It will focus on:
  • Special Education Law, Rights & Responsibilities
  • Tests & Measurements to Measure Progress & Regression
  • SMART Individual Education Plans (IEPs)
  • Introduction to Tactics & Strategies for Effective Advocacy

Visit our 2022 Annual Conference page for more information including a full-day agenda and a link to register!

Limited scholarships are available for parents/guardians on a first-come, first-served basis. Please fill out the scholarship form before you register. We will contact scholarship recipients with a specific code to register for the day at the reduced rate.

Special note: Northwestern Counseling and Support Services has offered to sponsor scholarships for a limited number of families who live in Franklin/Grand Isle. Please complete the scholarship form.

*VFN will follow guidance from the CDC and Vermont Department of Health to ensure the safety and comfort for participants. All participants and exhibitors must show proof of being fully vaccinated or a negative COVID test as they enter the conference. Indoor masking will be required except for when eating. If necessary, we will reschedule this event for later in the year. Please check our website frequently for any changes or updates.

THANK YOU to our 2022 Conference Sponsors!
Platinum level:
  • Vermont Department of Health – Children with Special Health Needs
Gold level:
  • Cynthia and Mack Gardner-Morse
  • Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living – HireAbility Vermont (formerly Division of Vocational Rehabilitation)
  • Vermont State Independent Living Council
  • Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council
Silver level:
  • The University of Vermont – Office of the Provost
  • The University of Vermont Center on Disability and Community Inclusion
  • SD Associates
  • The University of Vermont College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Bronze level:
  • Northwestern Counseling and Support Services
  • Howard Center
  • Vermont Child Development Division – Children’s Integrated Services
  • The University of Vermont Health Network

Wrightslaw tickets sell out early, so don’t miss out!
NERGN Annual Meeting
The New England Regional Genetics Network (NERGN) supports family-led organizations such as Vermont Family Network, physicians and genetic counselors in New England. VFN partners with families, the Department of Health, UVMMC Children’s Hospital and the New England Regional Genetics Group (NERGG), by identifying and addressing genetic-related service challenges experienced by families. Our goal is to improve the quality and delivery of coordinated genetic services in our state. With a particular emphasis on medically under served populations, the role of NERGN is to connect families to genetic services, implement quality improvement activities, implement innovative models of telehealth and telemedicine and provide resources to genetic service providers, public health officials and families.

The NERGN Annual Meeting will take place virtually on April 7th and 8th. This meeting is open to families and professionals and is free! Visit their website to view the agenda and to register.

For more information about genetics, contact Family Support at info@vtfn.org or (802) 876-5315.
Post-Secondary Education Programs
For Students with Disabilities

The Post-Secondary Education Initiative (PSEI) promotes college education and training for youth with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities (DD/ID). A consortium of participating organizations provides one of the following post-secondary educational options:

  • Services for youth up to age 26 to attend college and obtain a 2-year degree of higher learning
  • Services to access both adult learning and teaching opportunities
  • Services for specialized industry-based training programs for students in their last year of high school

Watch Post-secondary Education Options in Vermont for Youth with Developmental Disabilities for more details. For information on post-secondary education options and programs in Vermont or any other transition to adulthood-related concern, check out the VFN Transition Toolkit for Youth with Disabilities. If you have questions about your high-schooler and their options, please contact the VFN Family Support Program at 802-876-5315 or info@vtfn.org.
Sibshops News
Our Sibs joined us in March for an Exploration-themed Sibshop. We discussed that explorers are curious and open to trying new experiences and exploring does not have to be an adventurous experience out in nature – it can be trying a new food, visiting a new city, or looking within at our own feelings. We shared that being a sibling is like having a new experience to explore every single day.
We still have two more exciting Sibshops planned before summer:
May 21 from 1-3:30 pm: Metro Rock (indoor rock climbing), Sibs must register in advance for this Sibshop!
June 4 from 12-2 pm: Family Picnic at Oakledge Park
Sibshops are for children 6+ who have a brother or sister with a disability or special health need. They provide an opportunity to connect, share a snack, and discuss the ups and downs of being a “sib,” all while doing a fun activity at VFN or in the community.

If your child wants to join us, please fill out our Sibshops Registration Form. If you are not ready to commit but want to keep a pulse on our activities and updates for the year, you can email mindy.deibler@vtfn.org to be added to our Sibshops email distribution list.
Pandemic Guidance
for Students with Disabilities
The Federal Department of Education has issued guidance pertaining to children who are immunocompromised or with complex medical conditions. It reiterates the protections for eligible children under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504. It specific states that “As with eligible students with disabilities who have severe food allergies, health plans may be included as part of the student’s IEP or Section 504 Plan to ensure that the health and safety of the student in the school environment is properly addressed..” and addresses the “..continuation of school-wide layered prevention strategies recommended by CDC to address the special circumstances of the student and ensure that the student with a disability..” is able to receive educational services. If you have any questions regarding this memorandum or your child’s special education services in general, please contact the VFN helpline at 802-876-5315 or info@vtfn.org.
News from the Puppets!
This year, the Puppets in Education Team has been working on a special project! Students at Arlington Middle School formed an Anti-Racism group and wanted to find an engaging way to teach peers and younger students about the topic. The PiE team guided them through how to research and craft a script and facilitated a Puppetry 101 workshop. They are fine-tuning their show and performing for the local Elementary School this spring. We can’t wait to see the final product! A big thanks to their teacher, Carol Farley.

This spring is chock o’ block full of shows and we are already looking ahead to fall. If you are interested in scheduling a program for the fall, please contact karen.sharpwolf@vtfn.org.
Youth Summit – May 19th 2022
Please save the date for the 4th Annual Youth Summit driven for Youth by Youth (ages 14 to 25). This virtual event is scheduled for May 19, 9 am to 12.30 pm and the theme is self-advocacy. Registration details coming soon. For information, please contact Hannah Peach at Hannah.peach@vermont.gov.
April is National Volunteer Month!

Thank you to all our Support Parent volunteers! We are so grateful for the support you give to parents.

We appreciate you!

Upcoming Events - Register today!
VFN Annual Conference
Last two weeks to register!

April 14 from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. - "Wrightslaw - Special Education and Advocacy"
Please visit our VFN 2022 Annual Conference page and register today!

Save the Date

June 3 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. - "Voices of Our Network"
Please join us for an evening of music and powerful true stories told live on stage! This event will be held in-person in the Film House at Main Street Landing in Burlington. Livestream option available. Ticket information coming soon!

Free Workshops

In case you missed our last series of workshops, you can find a full list on our VFN website. Stay tuned as we add more workshops to our spring schedule!

We save workshops on our website and YouTube channel.
Contact Us. We Will Listen!
Helping Vermont Families thrive for more than 30 years
Join our closed Facebook group specifically for parents of adult children

for all parents

Contact our Helpline at (802) 876-5315 or info@vtfn.org

600 Blair Park Rd, Ste 240,
Williston, VT 05495