Another Level of Love, Compassion & Need!
There is a much greater level of foster care needed and the need is growing. The answer is Treatment Foster Care (TFC. Treatment Foster Care, or therapeutic foster care, requires parents with specialized training to care for kids with more serious emotional, behavioral, or social challenges because of past trauma. It gives children in out-of-home care a safe and nurturing home in a more structured environment than typical or regular foster care and offers a cost-effective alternative to residential treatment.
A CLOSER LOOK AT FOSTER CARE IN THE U.S.
According to recent federal data, more than 400,000 children now live in foster care in the United States, from infants to 21 (in some states). Kids ages 1 to 5 make up the largest share (30% in 2020) of children entering care. The average age is about 8 years old, and there are more boys than girls. Of those kids, about 117,000 are waiting to be adopted.
In 2020, 213,964 children under 18 entered foster care in the United States. Kids cycle in and out of the foster care and adoption systems but usually spend about a year in foster care. More than half are eventually reunified with their parents or caregivers. About 25 percent are adopted, many by foster parents. The goal of most foster care placements is to provide a temporary home that gives children and teens a safe place to live when their parents or primary caregivers are going through a crisis; while meeting emotional, physical, educational, medical, and recreational needs; and to safely reunite them with their families.
Many of these children have challenging behaviors because they have experienced some form of trauma, As a result, they exhibit emotional fragility, impulsive behavior, learning disabilities, Loss and Attachment Disorder, post-traumatic stress, and oppositional and verbally aggressive behaviors among others.
TREATMENT FOSTER CARE GOES FURTHER FOR THOSE CHILDREN WHO NEED IT
Treatment Foster Care serves children who have complex problems due to experiencing severe trauma and their behaviors are difficult for regular foster homes to manage. Many children in treatment foster care have failed in traditional care because parents do not possess the training and understanding needed to care for the behaviors exhibited. However, Treatment Foster care parents are required to help children with trauma issues and are trained in being trauma-informed and to provide a healing environment. Therapeutic foster care parents also learn improved coping skills and how to manage some of the most challenging scenarios as part of training.
MEET SOLACE – WHAT A DIFFERENCE IN JUST THREE YEARS
For a wonderful TFC success story, meet Solace. When he entered treatment foster care, his obstacles included social anxiety, depression, lack of motivation and hopelessness. He had difficulties maintaining employment, but with the strong support of his foster mom, foster family and mentor Maurice Harris, Solace has maintained regular employment for the last two years.
“Being separated from my family is depressing and it still bothers me at times,” he says. “But being in care has made me realize that your family is who you make them to be.”
“I’ve been blessed with a loving foster mom who never once implied that I was a foster child. She made me feel like one of her own and makes me feel like a real sibling along with her own kids. My foster family taught me that rather than looking down on someone, it’s better to give them a hand up. I will always remember the importance of giving and giving back,” Solace added.
Over the last year, he worked in the exit youth program called, Ready by 21, got his driver’s license, bought his own car, and will be attending a trade school for plumbing. The conflict resolution and other training he received from TFC gave him skills that he says he will carry for the rest of his life.
“For a student who struggled with emotional and social issues just three years ago, these are extraordinary achievements,” says Maurice Harris. “Solace is a considerate young man who shows concern for others and has a pleasant disposition. He’s the kind of young man who has learned to care for others’ needs above his own.”
Solace just earned a Maryland Association of Resources for Families and Youth (MARFY) achievement award, and was honored during the annual MARFY dinner and awards ceremony.
SEE HOW BEING A TREATMENT FOSTER PARENT WORKS AT THE CHILDREN’S GUILD
The Children’s Guild (TCG), whose mission is to provide individualized transformational experiences to ensure children, families, and communities thrive, is one of many organizations that work in treatment foster care.
“We are always looking for the special parents and families willing to provide a special level of care to children in need in Baltimore City and County, and Anne Arundel, Harford, and Howard counties,” says Joy Zollinger, Managing Director, Residential Services for The Children’s Guild “With all our parents, we offer professional development and ongoing training, and our program adheres to the best practices and program standards of the Family Focused Treatment Association” (FFTA). FFTA has listed over 495 member organizations working in treatment foster care across North America, including TCG.
Full support from TFC professional staff means weekly contact with families and the foster youth in the home. These staff members are responsible for the monitoring of the placement and assisting with providing placement stability. Staff not only provide support and guidance for the foster youth, but for the foster parents as well. This support includes 24/7 on-call services, case management, coordinating services for children (such as therapy, psychiatry, etc.), and implementing therapeutic interventions when necessary. “We provide respite services for parents and a tax-free stipend for foster childcare. Also, families receive training, supervision, and ongoing support from local organizations.” added Zollinger.
Children are still in need of safe and nurturing foster homes during this critical time, and The Children’s Guild is actively recruiting treatment foster parents. TCG offers regular informational meetings via Zoom where those interested can find out more about our fostering program and ask questions.
For more information about Treatment in Foster Care or to become a Foster Parent, please go to our website [email protected] or contact us at 443-829-5684
“Please join us for our next informational meeting, even if you’re just curious!” says Kay Brazile, MLT, BSc, Admission Coordinator.
IT’S A BIG BUT REWARDING JOB. ARE YOU UP FOR IT?
It is challenging to be a therapeutic foster parent, but also extremely rewarding. Foster parents who choose to provide care to higher needs kids can make incredible differences in the lives of children who so desperately need it.
It takes a tremendous amount of patience, resilience, creativity, resourcefulness, humor, and love. When these are provided to a troubled child, healing begins. Becoming a treatment foster care parent is a special gift you can give to a child in need, as well as yourself.
Make a difference in the life of a child—Become a Therapeutic Foster Parent!