Therapeutic Foster Care is a family foster home based treatment program. TFC parents provide nurturing basic day-to-day care for a foster child in a safe environment, but treatment foster parents are also expected to provide extra time and effort to help a child meet their emotional and behavioral needs. The TFC clinical specialist and treatment parents partner with a treatment team including: the child’s therapist, school, medical providers, guardian agency and any others providing services to that child. The goal of the TFC Program is to address the causes of a child’s emotional problems and help them to change their behavior allowing the child to live a more functional life in a family, school and community. At CACS, TFC services apply evidence-based practice (EBP) which involves the integration of clinical experience, patient preference, and research evidence.
If you are interested in becoming a Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) Treatment Parent please contact Carrie Ward, TFC Director, at 605-224-5811 ext. 103.
The Therapeutic Foster Care Program (TFC) at Capital Area Counseling Service (CACS) recruits, trains, and licenses its own foster parents and homes to provide a family-based treatment environment for children who have been removed from their parents due to abuse and/or neglect. The goal of the TFC Program is to address the trauma a child has experienced and help them to cope and build skills to allow them to live as normal a life as possible in a family, school, and community. TFC also accepts foster children with health/medical needs.
The following are just a few of the commonly asked questions about becoming a TFC parent:
TFC Common Questions
- What is the difference between therapeutic foster care and regular (basic) foster care?
All foster parents provide nurturing and basic day-to-day care for a foster child in a safe environment. Therapeutic foster parents are the main treatment component for a child and are also expected to provide extra time and effort to help a traumatized child meet their emotional needs and to teach them life skills. TFC parents partner closely with a treatment team that includes TFC staff, guardian agency staff, teachers, and other providers involved with that child. TFC parents receive a high level of guidance and support from TFC staff including 24/7 access to crisis services.
- What kind of people become therapeutic foster parents?
Therapeutic foster parenting is not for everyone. TFC parents like parenting and genuinely enjoy children and want to help them. They must be mature, emotionally stable, patient adults with excellent communication and parenting skills that help children build living skills. They must be able to cooperatively work with the professional TFC team and be willing to learn new concepts in care and parenting.
The TFC Program values diversity and would like parents who are married or single. Parents who are from diverse cultures, races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, socioeconomic statuses, genders, sexual orientations, and abilities are all welcome.
- Can single people or unmarried couples become TFC parents?
Yes….we all know that single parenting can be more difficult, but single people can become licensed as foster parents. You need to look at your circumstances and the support system that is available to you to help you decide if this is something you are capable of doing. With unmarried couples, as with married couples, both partners need to be committed to becoming licensed as therapeutic parents and we would look at the length, strength, and stability of your relationship and your ability to co-parent.
- I don’t know if I can financially support a foster child.
TFC parents are required to be able to financially support themselves and their family. They receive a monthly maintenance fee from CACS to cover each foster child’s expenses as well as the extra time and effort they put into helping that child and working with the treatment team.
- Do I need to get health/medical insurance for a foster child?
No….all foster children are covered medically through the Medicaid program. Medicaid covers physical, dental, and vision care including well child exams. It will also cover emergency room care, hospitalization, surgery, prescriptions, glasses, and medically necessary orthodontic work.
- How do I know if my home will meet foster care standards?
Foster homes or apartments should be of sufficient size for the addition of your foster child/ren. A foster child can share a bedroom with other children. Foster care regulations require that homes meet fairly normal home standards for safety and cleanliness and usually the changes are not major or costly. A Home Safety & Sanitation Checklist based upon these regulations would be made available to you if you have any concerns about your home meeting standards.
- Can both parents work?
Yes….if both parents work, foster children are automatically eligible to have their day care costs are covered through the Child Care Assistance Program. After school programs for elementary/middle school children are available at the Boys & Girls Club in Pierre and the Gold Program in Ft Pierre. An after school and summer plan would need to be developed for an older child.
- What if one parent would like to become a stay-at-home parent?
Being a full time therapeutic parent is very beneficial to many of our foster children. You still need to be able to financially support yourself and your family, but the TFC maintenance fee has helped to allow one parent to work part time or stay home. This is a personal choice you need to make based on your personal abilities and financial status being aware that TFC cannot guarantee 100% that you will always have a foster child/ren in your home.
- What training would I receive as a TFC parent?
All prospective TFC parents are required to go through 30-40 hours of orientation training. Some reading is also required. Each year after orientation, TFC parents must maintain 24 hours of training. Ongoing training is provided through the TFC Monthly Meetings held over a weekday noon hour. You will also receive individual training specific to your foster child/ren’s needs by TFC staff and other providers. Most of our TFC parents do not struggle to obtain enough training hours as long as they have a foster child in their home.
- Do TFC parents have a choice regarding what child is placed in their home?
During the initial licensing process and on an ongoing basis, TFC parents are helped to look at how many children they would like to provide care for, but cannot have more than 6 total children in their home (including their own minor children).
TFC parents may state a preference as to age range and gender of foster children they feel would fit best into their family. During orientation training, prospective foster parents learn to understand the problems common to foster children and may also state a preference as to which problems they would or wouldn’t be willing to work with.
When a referral is received, the TFC Director calls the TFC parent/s she feels could meet the needs of that child. She gives the TFC parent all the information she has on this child and the TFC parents decide if they want this child placed with them.
- How long do foster children stay in a TFC home?
The length of stay for each foster child is different as there are many different factors (parent/s’ rehabilitation, court decisions, finding an adoptive family, etc) that determine how long a child stays in a TFC home so there are no guarantees. TFC parents usually prepare to have a foster child live in their home for a long period of time up to a year or more…..although shorter or longer stays also occur.
- I’ve always wanted to be a foster parent, but I don’t know how I’d handle it when time came for a foster child to leave my home.
A TFC parent’s job is to provide a family home for a child and help them through some difficult times in their childhood. They help that child learn that there are people in the world who care about them and won’t hurt them. What a child learns in the time they are in your family may give them skills to end the cycle of abuse and neglect. You also may help prepare a child to be ready for an adoptive family. Having a foster child leave your home is hard, but foster parents know that they helped a child in their moment of need. The majority of TFC parents feel that they cope with the grief of a child leaving best by having another foster child placed in their family so they can concentrate on them.