Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) is a support and learning system that seeks to keep children with more severe behavioral, physical, or emotional needs in a healthy family unit until they can be reunited with their natural family, adopted, or learn to live independently.

Some kids have needs that go beyond what traditional foster care was designed for, but may not need to be in a full-time residential treatment facility. The goal with TFC is that the foster home becomes the primary treatment setting. To support this, therapeutic foster parents receive additional training and must be certified. They are required to be active in the child’s treatment plan, available 24/7. Often, one of the two foster parents does not work and can stay at home with their foster child.

Children and teens in TFC will have a treatment plan that the treatment team has developed and agreed to. Depending on the age of the child and the circumstances surrounding their situation, the treatment team could consist of the foster parents, a therapeutic case manager, the child, his/her family, a state social worker, and other community resource professionals that are involved. The goals of this plan could include:

  • Working through and eliminating inappropriate behaviors
  • Integrating the child into the community
  • Supporting educational goals and needs
  • Meeting any medical needs

There are some foundational differences between traditional foster care and therapeutic foster care.

  • Goals: In traditional foster care, the goal is to care for and protect the children in the system while giving the parents time to change. In TFC, the children need more help, so treatment is focused on both the child and the parents. Care and treatment happen in the home and through outside counseling and therapy appointments.
  • Focus: Traditional foster care parents focus on giving the children in their care a sense of safety, well-being, and love during their time with them. TFC parents also provide the services of traditional foster parents but also work on a more intense level to help teach the child coping skills, trauma healing, social skills, and school success.
  • Support: Traditionally, one foster care worker is assigned to both a child and the foster parent. There is minimal support or communication. TFC has clinical staff that supports and trains foster parents as well as the youth; they involve the biological parents whenever possible.

Therapeutic foster care recognizes that often children need more than a safe place, they need the safe place and consistent therapy. FTC offers teens an opportunity to get help beyond traditional foster care if they do not want to go into a fully residential program. If you are interested in more information about therapeutic foster care, we would love to talk to you. Give us a call at 907-523-6542.