The Consortium's Operating Structure
Vermont Consortium for Adoption and Guardianship: Operating Structure
I. Mission Statement
The Vermont Consortium for Adoption and Guardianship recognizes that adoption and guardianship of children are lifelong processes with rewards and challenges. Therefore, we are committed to partnering with individuals, families and communities to further the knowledge and understanding the needs of children when they are being raised by someone other than their birth parents. The Consortium strives to ensure that all people whose lives have been touched by adoption and guardianship have access to quality support services throughout Vermont.”
II. Brief History of the Consortium
Meetings to form a consortium began in 1997 with the emerging recognition that families formed through adoption were in need of services after adoption as well as before and during the process. Writing a federal grant proposal helped to formulate a plan for developing post-adoption services and to formalize the relationship between the partners in the project who would make up the Vermont Post-Adoption Consortium. The original members were Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF), Casey Family Services, Vermont Children's Aid Society, Northeast Kingdom Human Services (then called Futures), Adoption Advocates, and Easter Seals (then called Teaching Family Center).
During these beginning years, implementing the grant accomplished several goals. It began by defining post-adoption services at three levels of intensity. It provided funding for services to families not adopted through DCF. Additionally, training was funded and included monthly trainings as well as the first transracial adoption conference. During these years four additional agencies joined the Consortium: Lund Family Center, Family Life Services, Vermont Foster and Adoptive Family Association (VFAFA) and Parent to Parent. All member agencies participated on committees to set and achieve the goals of the Consortium.
In 2001, the Consortium did not receive any grant funding. Members continued to work on the established goals without funding and met regularly to work towards maintaining and improving services. DCF showed further commitment to post-adoption services by allocating additional funds to serve the increasing number of families.
In 2002, the Consortium received a second federal grant with Easter Seals as the lead applicant. This three-year grant included a full time staff person to coordinate grant activities. The goals included the development of more consistent post-adoption services across the state, the provision of education and training to parents, schools, and community groups about adoption and trauma related issues, and the development of creative respite options.
It was during this time that NFI and the Child Welfare Training Partnership joined the group, as well as The Adoption Council. The Adoption Council was a group of private, licensed adoption agencies in Vermont. With the addition of this last group, the Consortium reshaped and strengthened its scope on adoption as a lifelong process.
By 2006, the Consortium was maintaining most of the activities and services developed under the original grant by securing an appropriation from the Vermont Legislature. A steering committee was added at this time to help to provide strategic planning and oversight. New members were added including Vermont Kin As Parents (VKAP) and the Howard Center Child, Youth and Family Services. From 2007 – 2010, a central intake and referral line was offered as a service to streamline the process of accessing needs for families and community partners. It was also during this time that a website was developed to provide a resource for professionals and families.
Today, the agencies and members of the Vermont Consortium for Adoption and Guardianship continue to work collaboratively and creatively to meet their goal of serving families formed through adoption or guardianship statewide. Resources are made available through their website, large lending library, and a quarterly newsletter. Continuous training is provided to all post permanence service providers and conferences are held every year for professionals and families. Support groups, advocacy services, community resources and respite services are offered to families who need support. The Vermont Consortium for Adoption and Guardianship believes that raising a child through adoption or guardianship is a lifelong process and is committed to providing support and information to everyone involved.
III. Membership Agreement
Membership in the Vermont Consortium for Adoption and Guardianship is based on the following agreements:
1.) A representative from each member agency (typically the Director, Coordinator, or Supervisor of an agency’s adoption or post-permanence program) will attend quarterly consortium meetings. If unavailable for a meeting, he/she will send someone else from the agency to fill in.
2.) Individual members will attend a minimum of 1 meeting annually.
3.) Each member, agency or individual, agrees to participate on at least one committee/project per year. Involvement could include committee membership, newsletter articles, volunteering at a conference or workshop, distributing information to schools, editing of documents, tables at conferences/events, etc.
4.) Consortium members share common core values identified in the mission statement related to the practice of adoption and guardianship and provision of Post Permanence services. This does not mean that members will always agree or practice in the same way. Membership requires that concerns are brought forth and handled directly and respectfully within the group.
Process for Adding New Members
An individual may attend a Consortium meeting to determine whether they are interested in participating in Consortium activities. After attending a meeting, the individual will communicate with the Consortium Coordinator regarding their interest in participation. New members will sign the Consortium Membership Agreement. The Consortium Coordinator will inform the Executive Committee.
Membership includes the following organizations:
Bethany Christian Services
Camp For Me
DCF Family Services Division
Dothan Brook Associates
Friends in Adoption
Good Beginnings of Central Vermont
Northeastern Family Institute
Northeast Kingdom Human Services
Vermont Child Welfare Training Partnership
Vermont Foster and Adoptive Family Association
Vermont Kin as Parents
IV. Consortium Meeting Structure
Meetings are held quarterly on the 3rd Tuesday of March, June, September, and December from 1-4 pm and the location is rotated.
A meeting reminder will go out a week prior to the meeting requesting agenda items.
The Consortium Coordinator will facilitate meetings. Minutes will be submitted to the Consortium membership prior to the next scheduled meeting.
Committee Updates - This is the time for Committee Members to share work being done outside of the regular meetings. This may be just a report of what has been happening, or in some instances, there may be a need for discussion, input and/or decision making by the larger group.
Old Business/Revisiting Ongoing Priorities - This is the time to discuss unfinished business from previous meetings and to check in on the progress toward overarching Consortium goals.
New Business - This will include matters that need immediate attention and have not yet been discussed, or matters that members need to start thinking about for discussion at future meetings.
V. Consortium Committees
Consortium committees are formed during regular meetings when specific work is identified that can most efficiently be moved forward by a smaller group at separate meetings. Committees are made up of Consortium members and may also include other interested individuals who volunteer for them. The Consortium coordinator is a member of all committees. Committees provide an update of their work for review at regular Consortium meetings. The Consortium Executive Committee’s membership has been decided as described below:
Consortium Executive Committee
Purpose: Responsible for the strategic planning of the Consortium as a whole, including prioritizing goals, maintaining sustainability, reviewing and managing budget, overseeing best practice in adoption and guardianship work across the state, and ensuring that the Consortium mission is reflected in all services, activities, and committee work.
This committee meets monthly. Membership in the committee reflects the various types of agencies that make up the Consortium and individuals participating in the Consortium. The committee will include a representative from a mental health agency, a private adoption agency, a post permanency agency, Project Family, and VTCWTP; and a parent who has adopted or has guardianship and the Consortium Coordinator.
Consortium members interested in joining the Executive Committee will provide a letter of intent and the Coordinator will meet with them to understand how they will contribute to guiding the work of the Consortium. This will be reviewed by the committee and a decision made regarding appointment.
Addendum January 2018: Membership of the Executive Committee is capped at 14 with at least one member from each of the listed entities. All post permanency agencies will be represented. The “adoptive/guardianship parent” category is changed to “members of the adoption/guardianship constellation”.
Conference Planning Committee
Purpose: Plan, coordinate and carry out all Consortium sponsored conferences and events. Make decisions about speakers, topics, locations, and fees.
This committee meets as needed to plan out conferences and events.
Purpose: The committee comes together to work on a strategic outreach and education plan ensuring the Vermont community is aware of the mission and services available to the adoption and guardianship families and service providers in Vermont. This may include the Adoption Handbook, brochures, newsletters, website, visibility at conferences, and marketing efforts.
Purpose: Oversees the management of the lending library, housed at easterseals Vermont, ensuring it is current and accessible.
Diversity in Adoption and Guardianship Committee
Purpose: Recognizes and addresses the unique needs of Vermont children adopted or who are in guardianship transculturally and/or transracially or who have joined an LGBTQ family. Helps parents and professionals gain education about the many issues that impact children from a different race and/or culture.
This committee meets to plan the transracial/transcultural trainings and is responsible for revising the curriculum for this training as needed.
Agency and Private Adoption and Guardianship Committee
Purpose: Discuss matters germane to private agencies and those that facilitate private adoptions that place children with families for adoption, both internationally and domestically.
Committees or other groups that a representative from the Consortium attends:
Child and Family Trauma Workgroup
Vermont Kin As Parents (VKAP) Advisory Board
Camp For Me Advisory Board