Foster parents, what we call Parent Therapists, are a pivotal part of the Quinte Children’s Home team. Not just the primary guardian for kids in our care, a Parent Therapist is also on the front line when it comes to following a plan that will help each child succeed.
The level system for Parent Therapists
All Parent Therapists have access to training and support that prepare them for their new role. However, until a few years ago, there was no standard way to evaluate who needed more or less support on an ongoing basis.
“We developed the levels because we felt there was a need for a formalized system,” explained Melissa Hulshof, program coordinator at Quinte Children’s Homes.
“Some of our Parent Therapists have a lot of knowledge and experience and need little support. Others need additional support and guidance based on their knowledge, years of experience and circumstances,” she added.
Before the levels were created, everything was done on a case-by-case basis. “We needed a way to standardize these different situations,” Hulshof said.
Five levels of qualifications
At Quinte Children’s Homes, we provide clinical foster care, a model of care that puts a lot of demands on the professional parents who work with us. Because of this, most of our Parent Therapists begin at level one and must stay at that level for at least six months, unless an exception is made based on an individual’s demonstrated knowledge.
Regardless of level, there is always involvement from a Program Supervisor who, among other responsibilities, will always make sure that a Parent Therapist’s home meets any Ministry requirements.
However, each level has a set degree of support and autonomy. As a Parent Therapist progresses, they gain more responsibility as well as an increase in pay. The list below broadly outlines some of the factors that change from one level to the next.
At level one, a Parent Therapist receives
- a high degree of support, especially as they adjust to their new role.
- a lot of interaction with the Program Supervisor, who will work with them on every aspect of care, from establishing a care plan to treatment goals.
- ongoing support from the Program Supervisor, who also helps manage stress levels and expectations.
By level two, a Parent Therapist has typically mastered some elements of their role, but may still struggle to stay on top of everything. At this level, they
- continue to receive a high degree of support, but have more autonomy and flexibility.
- continue to interact with the Program Supervisor on a very regular basis.
A Parent Therapist receives a “standard level” of support when they reach level three, a level that recognizes their mastery of all areas of their role even if they still struggle with consistent performance. At this level
- supervision is less frequent, and the Parent Therapist generally sets his or her own schedule with some input from the Program Supervisor.
- a Parent Therapist also shares responsibility for working with or training all staff who support the home.
At level four, a Parent Therapist is mostly independent; they have consistently mastered all areas of their role and only ask for support when it’s required. This means that a Parent Therapist is responsible for
- scheduling all reviews.
- facilitating care and treatment planning for children, collaborating with other professionals as needed.
- working with the Program Supervisor only as needed to ensure government standards are met.
Level five is the highest level for a Parent Therapist. At this level
- the Parent Therapist operates an independent home, collaborating with others only as needed.
- a Parent Therapist demonstrates an ability to support, educate and encourage their peers and colleagues as a mentor.
- the Program Supervisor is involved only as needed to ensure Ministry standards are met.
System encourages ongoing improvement, more flexibility
“From a management point of view, this system helps us ensure that we invest additional time and support into [Parent Therapist] homes that are still learning and/or developing their skills,” Hulshof noted. The increase in pay also offers an incentive for Parent Therapists to improve.
Hulshof notes that in the past, finding balance between experience and development was a struggle. “It was often our most experienced homes that were advocating for themselves when they needed help while our newer homes were left to figure it out because of limited resources. Our level system has really helped us improve our management of resources,” she said.
For Parent Therapists, the level system doesn’t just offer a clear progression; those who have progressed can change levels to accommodate their needs at any particular point in time.
“There is a standard amount of support at each level, which gives us the option to adjust supports when a particular Parent Therapist needs it,” Hulshof added. “For example, a Parent Therapist may have a baby, or an illness in their family. It’s reassuring for them to know that help is there when they need it, and that when things settle they can easily resume work at their previous level. All supports available to the Parent Therapist based on their level is in addition to our client’s services”
If you want to learn more about being a professional parent with Quinte Children’s Homes, please contact us today at 613-967-0545, or connect with us on Twitter.
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