Foster care, Parent Therapists, and Residential care
Kids entering foster care are often coping with a lot of challenges; at the very least, they’ve been on whatever path has led to their placement in care. Many are also trying to manage other mental health issues like learning disabilities, depression or anxiety.
It takes a lot of patience, expertise and support to help a child grow into a successful adult – and an approach to care that recognizes them for the individuals they already are.
The traditional approach to residential care
With a traditional approach to treatment, a child rotates through the residential care system. Many youth end up in a group setting, going through an assessment period and staying until they’ve stabilized enough to move back in with a family – a more ideal environment.
On one hand, this gives kids the resources they need up front, when they need support to adjust. On the other, the move to a family home can mean changing community, schools, and losing all the connections they’ve just formed. Just as he or she has reached an important point – when they’ve started to build relationships and find some comfort and stability – they have to start over.
A child-focused alternative to traditional Foster care
An alternative approach is to revolve care around the child instead of the system. That’s the model Quinte Children’s Homes (QCH) uses, to ensure the best possible care for every individual.
When a child first comes to QCH, we put them in family care with one of our parent therapists right away. Our goal is to leave them there, with the same family – so kids can build a relationship with one foster family, and enjoy the benefits of a stable home.
To do that, QCH uses a level-based model of care. Each child is assessed at one of five levels of care, with level 1 being the most independent and level 5 considered the highest risk. For the first 30 days in QCH care, all kids are placed in the program as a level 4 — ensuring they have ready access to any services they might need.
After that initial period of assessments is complete, each individual is assigned a level based on what they need at that moment. “Nobody is ever forced to accept care or help, and not all kids are ready for help when they first come to us – that’s something we’re prepared for, too,” explained Melissa Hulshof, program coordinator at Quinte Children’s Homes.
“However, our goal is to make sure that every child in our care has access to any service that they need, when they need it.” That availability is one of the things that sets QCH’s model apart from others that exist. Through QCH, kids have access to individual or group therapy, alternative education tailored specifically to their needs through Applewood Academy, and psychiatric professionals with a range of experience and qualifications.
It’s a combination that at least one local child welfare professional agreed streamlines treatment, keeps the focus on each child, and delivers positive results.
In our next post, we’ll look at QCH’s assessment process and what a leveled approach means for parent therapists – foster parents who each bring a range of backgrounds and experience.