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Foster care that’s focused on kids – Parent Therapists and Residential care Part 2

Child-centric foster care changes experience for foster parents

Revolve care around the child – that’s Quinte Children’s Homes’ (QCH) approach to foster care. The traditional approach rotates children through the residential care system, which QCH believes leads to further change and instability.

The QCH service model for care uses what we call a leveled approach. In our last post, we looked at how this approach can impact the kids in QCH care; in this post, we look at what our partner parents can expect.

A different experience for foster parents

A different approach to care means a different experience for foster parents – what QCH calls parent therapists.

QCH screens for a number of qualifications in parent therapists, including

  • a diploma or degree in human services
  • willing to learn new skills and be involved in ongoing training
  • a home study that involves evaluation of personal mental health issues.

“We have a very diligent screening process; for our residential care to make a difference, the right team needs to be in place,” explained Melissa Hulshof, program coordinator at Quinte Children’s Homes. “We look for people who we know can be a specialized treatment provider; our parent therapists are more than a caregiver they’re a critical part of our model for care.”

A leveled approach to care

The QCH model for care is based on five levels – level 1 being the more independent and level 5 in need of the most support.

When a child first enters care with QCH they’re automatically designated level 4, to ensure they have access to any support they may need as they adjust. That means more active participation from a team of experts that provides psychiatric care and clinical services like individual and group counselling.

After the first 30 days, a complete evaluation is done and they are assigned the most appropriate level for their needs.

Assessments are done every six months, but if a child’s needs change between evaluations their services will be increased or decreased as appropriate; the goal is to ensure each has the support they need to succeed.

Compensation based on the parent, not the child

QCH provides compensation for parent therapists including $50,000 or more per year tax-free living allowance, and ongoing training. But the QCH model bases compensation on each individual parent therapist – which is different from what normally happens.

“Typically, pay varies according to the needs of the child; if a child requires more care, the compensation is higher,” said Hulshof. “Because QCH scales our overall support up or down around the needs of each child, without moving them from one home to another, we made the decision to compensate parent therapists solely according to the expertise they contribute to the team in combination with the supports they require to meet the needs of each individual child.”

As a result, parent therapists are motivated to participate in ongoing training. We also encourage our more experienced parent therapists to mentor newer ones.

We’re looking for qualified individuals and couples to join us; if you’d like more information, please let us know.