Therapeutic foster care – 4

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Therapeutic foster care – 4

Therapeutic foster care is a feature not just of UK fostering service provision.  Looking at past research programmes from overseas provides insights into common issues that therapeutic foster care involves. It also charts progress made in relation to how best practice in therapeutic care has come into being. In Australia, for example, it was realised that the fields of mental health, child protection and child welfare tended to develop in isolation. This meant each field tended to rely upon different theoretical ‘orientations’, different research and ultimately different practice implementation. Putting aside these differences, there were many areas of overlap as well as common areas of thinking and practice. The findings correspond to much that is relevant in the UK context. The shared goal is to develop the best future practice that will promote healing therapeutic care environments. This can ameliorate the effects of trauma and attachment disruption experienced by children.

Key findings about therapeutic foster care

Therapeutic foster care was initiated as a direct response to the inadequacies of the care system. It was found that foster children had limited access to appropriate services. These included provision for mental health assessment and treatment. Significantly, access to services was frequently determined by environment and circumstance and not assessed need. Much of this research into therapeutic foster care was conducted in Australia ten years ago. It was found then, that there was a lack of comprehensive research into the kinds of interventions likely to be most effective in helping traumatised children. This was accompanied by a lack of agreement about models able to deliver appropriate interventions.

It was found that programmes likely to result in promising interventions demonstrated:

  • comprehensive assessment frameworks;
  • coherent theoretical frameworks with a ‘systems oriented trauma/attachment base’;
  • a clear focus on relationship building – both in therapeutic foster care practice and collaborative professional practice;
  • the inclusion of foster carers and biological families in car programme design and implementation.

The importance of ongoing training and education on the impact of trauma and attachment disruption on children was stressed. Spotting the signs and symptoms of such impacts was key for allowing the most effective interventions. It was found that the key differences between therapeutic foster carer and traditional foster care were:

  • the far greater complexity of the children entering therapeutic foster care;
  • the expanded role of the carers;
  • effective matching processes with therapeutic foster carers enhanced placement stability.

Training therapeutic foster carers

The research also showed that enhanced training and strong support provided improved outcomes. It was identified that a number of factors which increase the chances of success in training. It was noted that well established therapeutic foster care programmes in the U.K. and U.S. generally promoted contact between the therapeutic foster carers and the biological family. Therapeutic services were then designed to assist the biological family as their involvement, where appropriate, proved to be critical in relation good outcomes for children.

The research also concluded that a foster carer’s  anxiety regarding a child’s contact with their biological family was associated with poor child adjustment. A practice model was subsequently defined that would include:

  • a trauma-attachment model within a systemic framework;
  • a comprehensive assessment framework;
  • therapeutic  foster care parenting;
  • a strong care team adopting a collaborative approach and permitting a ‘reflective space’;
  • the biological family to benefit from therapy and case management;
  • a focus upon permanency: this being within a  therapeutic foster care environment or with the biological family;
  • support, consultation and supervision for all those participating win therapeutic foster care – with a focus on self care;
  • respite options.

Applicants for therapeutic foster care

65% of children entering the care system have experienced abuse of neglect. We need dedicated and committed people to train for this area of foster care. The rewards are considerable – enhanced pay rates – with the knowledge that you will have redirected a young life and given that child hope and prospects. Few things can match this in life.

Find out what is therapeutic foster care, therapeutic foster care training, therapeutic foster care pay and specialist therapeutic foster care. our expert team is on hand to help with all your enquiries: please call 020 8427 3355 or our National line 0330 311 2845.

And today in the UK fostering news:

The Foster care stocktake – a missed opportunity? 

6th, February 2018

The Department for Education’s fostering stocktake report has today been published (more)

Good news at the end of this Rainbow…still places available for our music workshops in Milton Keynes!

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