Tolerance, openness, caring – it takes many different qualities to be a successful foster parent. For those who work with Quinte Children’s Homes (QCH), what we call a parent therapist, there’s a careful balance between being a professional and creating a home.
Clinical Foster Care: A different way of looking at things
Ideally, parent therapists have a background that’s related to the work we do at QCH: child and youth worker, social worker, practical nurse, even a BA in a field like psychiatry. But, as explained by Terry Stevenson, corporate director of Quinte Children’s Homes, educational background is not necessarily the most important factor.
“It’s a way of thinking more than a particular type of education,” he said. “What’s important is the ability to formulate and drive a plan; a parent therapist needs to be able to work a child through a plan to get them from Point A to Point B.”
The ability to role with whatever comes
Being a parent therapist is more than just standing in as a parent and loving a child. All foster parents care, Stevenson noted, but not all can take the clinical, less-emotional view of parenting that a parent therapist needs.
“With the children we work with, it’s not just about love; they will have issues that need to be addressed and tolerated,” he explained. “There’s an end goal they’re working towards.”
Sometimes, he said, when people lose sight of the fact that they’re caring for a child who needs – and is receiving – treatment, they can feel betrayed when issues comes up.
Finding the right qualities, whatever they are
Stevenson emphasizes that it’s hard to single out any quality in particular that QCH looks for because the goal is always to match a child to a family – and different kids are different people.
“A lot of factors need to be considered: Are they interested in computers? Athletics? Is he or she a quiet individual who might benefit from a more social family, or do they need a quiet home where they can have time on their own? It’s very hard to generalize.”
Interested in being a parent therapist?
As with any job, becoming a parent therapist involves an important reality check; we’ll discuss this in an upcoming post about orientation. In the interim, if you would like more information about becoming a parent therapist we would be happy to discuss it with you – just get in touch.