Foster Parent Training

Foster Parent Training: QCH’s Approach

Quinte Children’s Homes provides residential care that centres around each individual child. We call our foster parents Parent Therapists – a title that reflects the two hats they wear: Caring parent and clinical care provider.

It’s a professional commitment that is not for everyone, but can be a great fit for the right family. We’re committed to providing training and support every step of the way. If you became a Parent Therapist, where would you begin?

Is this a good fit?

Working with children and youth who have faced situations like emotional abuse, sexual abuse or neglect takes more than just love and compassion; it requires a clinical approach that follows a treatment program to help each individual recover and succeed.

It’s a commitment that isn’t for everyone.

“If someone has no previous experience with Quinte Children’s Homes, our first step is to introduce them to our program,” explained Melissa Hulshof, program coordinator at Quinte Children’s Homes. “We offer an introductory information session, which can then lead into an initial interview.”

“Different people have different notions about foster care, and we follow a different model than traditional care. We want people to be very clear about our process and expectations, to ensure that this is a good fit for the family and matches what a potential Parent Therapist is looking for.”

Getting the foundations in place

Once you, your family, and Quinte Children’s Homes are all certain that this is the right commitment for you, you’ll need to complete an application form before moving forward with some fundamentals:

  • A Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) check into your background
  • Medical forms, including your medical history
  • A home assessment, to ensure you meet Ministry of Children and Youth Services requirements

This process typically takes approximately 30 to 60 days. These pieces need to be in place before your training can begin.

Extensive training for Parent Therapists

Hulshof explained that there are two goals for the Parent Therapist training program, which typically takes four weeks:

  • To ensure you have a full understanding of your role.
  • To identify your strengths and put an appropriate support team in place to make sure there are no gaps in skills or expertise.

One of the most critical parts of training is Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI), a program that gives you the skills you may need to deescalate a situation with kids who are in crisis. “We require all of our parents and support staff to have training that teaches them how to effectively manage a crisis; this program shows what kind of help to offer in which situations,” Hulshof explained, which includes appropriate use of restraint.

In-depth training also includes:

  • In-service training within the home of an already-established Parent Therapist
  • Technical training to make sure you’re comfortable with any administrative tasks
  • Review of typical challenges you may need to address
  • Parenting techniques and behaviour management based on positive reinforcers
  • Stress management

Through the training, you’ll also learn about your role in the support team.

Your support team

The support team is a group that includes Parent Therapists to ensure that the needs of a child – and all the requirements for a foster home – are consistently met. It’s a team that typically includes:

  • A program coordinator, who oversees the overarching logistics and administration (like liaising with the Children’s Aid Society)
  • A supervisor, who will provide in-home help – your first line of support
  • An after-hours supervisor, to ensure you have help available 24/7
  • A clinician, who will look after the needs of each individual child
  • Any other specialists who may be able to help, based on a child’s needs, including counselors

“We put together a support team – building on your individual strengths – to meet the clinical needs of each individual child, and provide the residential support that ensures day-to-day structure,” said Hulshof. “These two elements need to work together and complement each other. They also need to be adjusted all the time.”

Learn more about how you can become a Parent Therapist

Quinte Children’s Homes is always looking for new Parent Therapists, and is happy to provide more information to anyone who might be interested. Please contact us online or by phone at 613-967-0545.