Mother standing next to son with young daughter in front holding a Vermont Family Network sign

Who are we?

We are the federally designated  Parent Training and Information Center, the Family-to-Family Health Information Center, and the Vermont chapter of both Family Voices and Parent-to-Parent USA.  We are a statewide family support organization committed to ensuring all Vermont families of children with special health needs are empowered to have a voice in the care and services they receive. We have been serving Vermont families and the professionals who work with them for more than 30 years

What Do we offer?

In addition to the hundreds of learning opportunities we provide at no cost to Vermonters, VFN offers additional workshops and training as a fee-for-service for school districts and organizations who wish for a customized experience that meets their unique needs. Workshops are approximately two hours and include a presentation and discussion among participants; however, there are topics that can be developed for a Lunch & Learn half-day, and full-day experience. During the pandemic, our workshops were “virtual” rather than in-person, and we still customize virtual events if this is the best mode for your participants.   

In-person workshops are available. Consultation services are based on the individual client’s needs. We provide most consultation services “virtually” (Zoom meeting, phone, email) unless parties agree it is more beneficial for an in-person. Vermont Family Network offers training opportunities for parents, guardians, families, and school staff that districts can select to meet targeted needs. VFN aims to meet the needs of Local Education Agencies (LEA) concerning their responsibilities under IDEA and now offers additional training and consultation differentiated for districts, which are allowable activities for IDEA Part B subgrant reimbursement.   

Consultation services are available as a fee for service based on the individual client’s needs and preferences. We hear from many families that services are frequently not coordinated or helpful. As such, here are examples of how we can help:  

  • Assist with developing family-friendly communications such as emails, procedures, or website content.  
  • Strengthen family engagement outreach and strategies.  
  • Provide a comprehensive overview of our programs and share resources at your staff meeting. 
  • Arrange for parents from our Family Faculty program to share their stories as part of in-service training for your employees. 
  • Train family members on your advisory council, board, or committee, to be more effective members of your group; for example, your agency could sponsor a parent’s attendance at the Vermont Leadership Series. 
  • Conduct a focus group or listening session with the families you serve to get input and improvement ideas. 
  • Coach your organization in creating your own parent match or parent-to-parent support program. 
  • Conduct a comprehensive needs assessment.  
  • Compile resource lists for your county or communities.  
  • Provide evaluative feedback on school-based training plans and content for schools and/or organizations implementing their own training.  
  • Consult on building parent advisory groups or parent social groups.  
  • Consult with schools on areas of concern from State reviews or State monitoring visits when family engagement is an improvement activity or corrective action item.  

Vermont Family Network can also contract with schools on family engagement work. From partnering on addressing needs concerning significant disproportionality to bolstering engagement in annual parent engagement surveys to improving compliant transition plans to outreach efforts in locating children and families as part of Child Find, we know how to foster meaningful engagement. 

VFN offers camp staff training as a fee for service. Is your camp staff prepared to work with children and youth with disabilities and special health needs? Could they benefit from exercises in perspective-taking so they can meet campers where they are? Are they able to engage with families who are impacted by their child’s disability or health need? A prepared staff is critical to understanding legal obligations, designing, and implementing safe and satisfying services, to meeting leisure needs, and to offering cost-effective options.   

The Vermont Family Network can offer virtual or on-site training of staff on a variety of topics:  

  • Inclusive Day Camps/Inclusion Principles   
  • Effective Communication and Collaboration with Families   
  • Understanding Characteristics of Autism   
  • Understanding Characteristics of Anxiety/Depression   
  • Understanding Characteristics of ADHD   
  • Understanding Characteristics of Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities   
  • Understanding Challenging Behavior   
  • Avoiding Ableist Language and Respecting Differences   

What topics do workshops cover?

Special Education & Individualized Education Programs (IEP); 504 Plans; Other Education Programs, Services, and Supports
Family-Centered Thinking and Planning; Building a Medical Home for Your Child; Caring for the Caregiver
Transition to Adulthood for Youth with Disabilities: Independent Living, Health Care, Employment, Post-Secondary Education, Social Life, and Community Living
Advocating for Your Child; Effective Communication and Collaboration Skills; Making Changes at the Legislative or Systems Level
Children’s Challenging Behaviors; School Behavior Supports; School Discipline; Bullying & Harassment
Resources, Services, and Supports to Help Families of Children with Special Needs, which is 1 in 4 Families in Vermont
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Who are the Trainers?

Dr. Jacqui Kelleher: Dr. Jacqui Kelleher (she/her) is the Executive Director of Vermont Family Network, whose mission is to empower and support all Vermont children, youth, and families, especially those with disabilities, disorders, or special health needs. Dr. Kelleher also worked as the State Director of Special Education with the Vermont Agency of Education, where she oversaw the implementation of special education policies, practices, and procedures with federal and state laws for districts in the state. Dr. Kelleher has served as a teacher, administrator, program evaluator, and professor of Special Education and General Education for 15 years, including at the University of Connecticut and Sacred Heart University. Dr. Kelleher coordinates these training and consultation opportunities and ensures all curricula are timely, relevant, accurate, and reflect recent changes in state and federal requirements. Contact Dr. Kelleher for more details on registration.  

Karen graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in economics/political science and earned her Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University. Her two sons were born in Germany, and her younger son was diagnosed with Koolen-deVries Syndrome. She has been the Parent Training and Information Center Project Director and Family Support Director at the Vermont Family Network since January 2014. Prior to that, she worked as a Family Support Consultant at the Vermont Parent Information Center for nine years. She has supported parents of children with disabilities within the educational system in both capacities and is a strong proponent of inclusion and equitable education. She has developed and delivered training presentations on topics around the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504. Karen sits on various committees/councils representing families of children with disabilities.

Bio coming soon!

Our Family Support Consultants have more than ten years of experience at VFN and “lived experience” parenting a child with disabilities and/or special health needs. We combine technical knowledge with practical experience and suggestions in a family-friendly way. Employees are not attorneys and do not provide legal advice. Our ultimate goal is to empower families through education and support, thereby increasing their capacity to be engaged and effective in every aspect of their child’s life.   

Other qualified staff members from the organization as appropriate to training topics.  

How can I learn more?

Please fill out the request form and we will get back to you to discuss your needs and for information about our fees or call 802-876-5315 and ask for the Training Specialist.