WHAT IS FOSTER CARE? WHAT PROGRAM DID CHIEF & I CHOOSE?
A few months ago, I shared with you my journey to becoming a foster parent. Since writing Becoming A Foster Parent, I have been asked several questions regarding different foster care programs. Today, I will provide some insight into foster care programs. Be mindful, this is also dependant on your state and the foster care agency you decide to use for the licensure process. Nevertheless, I will also discuss the foster care program Chief and I decided to get our license in. **This is our journey to becoming a foster parent.
Traditional Foster Care:
Traditional Foster Care is geared towards all children who need a safe and stable home. With all licensure process, the goal is to help the foster parent understand the dynamic of the potential behaviors and needs of the child. Traditional Foster Care training accommodates the prospective foster parent and the child. According to Our Kids, Traditional Foster Care homes serve a different population. The child generally has fewer emotional or behavioral needs. Additionally, their support team (case manager and therapeutic support) provides a lower level of care. Although I feel confident that even this program has high need children.
Enhanced Foster Care:
Enhanced Foster Care is for children who have special needs that require more attention than Traditional Foster Care but does not meet the needs of Therapeutic Foster Care. According to the National Youth Advocate Program, Enhanced Foster Care program provides children with oppositional, mental health, emotional and substance abuse behaviors. Siblings of the opposite gender are also placed in this category because there is a high need.
Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care:
National Youth Advocate Program describes Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care of children who have higher needs. The children have experienced abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Additionally, the child may struggle with significant emotional, behavioral or developmental problems. With this particular program, the family receives intensive services within the home for the child (and family). The family has 24/7 access to their support teams such as the therapist and case manager. Families who decide to take this route will receive additional training. To add, you have a therapeutic foster care level 1 & 2. Level 2 is characterized by more frequent contact between the therapeutic foster parent and the support team. Foster care level 2 is intended to provide a high degree of services from the clinical staff. The therapist also provides weekly or twice a week in-home services/crisis intervention.
Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care is the program Chief and I decided to become licensed. Throughout our training, we had a lot of questions with regards to our responsibility as foster parents, but also to make sure we have what it takes to provide care to a level 2 child. Also, not to lose sight of considering our 13-year-old girls who are still in the home. Considering our family being military, I believe we have built a solid foundation for our girls. As a licensed professional and life experiences, I feel confident in our choice to choose this route. I have provided services to foster families in their home and school. Therefore, this route will not come easy and expecting anything less than is setting my family up for failure. However, we plan to take it a day at a time and try not to stress about the trouble tomorrow brings.
The therapist who licensed us is phenomena! I always had questions prepared for her because of my career and what I have witnessed. I needed our trainer to understand that she (and my team) is my support system. Build an open relationship with your foster care agency. Communicate your needs and expectations of your foster care agency. This helps everyone understand their responsibility.
Children’s Medical Services:
Children’s Medical Services requires specialized training and provide care to medically complexed children. Although the child receives a significant amount of support from his/her medical team, the foster parent is required to provide 24 hours of care.
Our journey to becoming foster parents’ has not been easy. The journey to licensing is a long process. Throughout the process, the licensing agency will become very familiar with your lifestyle. Your day to day routine, your past (both bad and good, yikes!), weakness and strengths. There were a few times where I second-guessed the choice of becoming foster parents. Our minds are powerful, so I had to get rid of the negative self-talk and doubts about failing. Although it can be difficult to trust the process at times, upon completion the value of patience is enormous! The goal of fostering is to provide a nurturing home for a child in need and to allow the child to live a somewhat normal life, even if it is temporary. I needed to remind myself that we (my family and I) have exactly what we need to provide just that.
With every foster child, the ultimate goal is for the child to reunite with their family. You are able to make an impact. You have the ability to demonstrate healthy habits and skills. You may become that one person that makes a child believe they can do and become anything in life. And all it takes is one person to influence the mind of a child.
Are you a foster parent? If so, please share your journey with us. Are you considering foster care? What are some questions you have regarding the process?
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