Over the years foster care has become more complex and less traditional than in the past. Generally speaking there are three types of foster care. The first being emergency foster care, secondly traditional or regular foster care, and thirdly therapeutic foster care.
The above mentioned types of foster care are for children whose parents or guardians are incapable of caring for them due to abuse or neglect. Because of the various legalities involved, all children placed in the care of someone other than their parent or guardian, are held in the temporary legal custody of the state while their families work towards reunification.
Reflecting back on the types of foster care, I would like to elaborate on the differences in foster care. First there is emergency foster care. Emergency foster care is described as the removal of a child due to emergency circumstances stemming from abuse and neglect. More specifically these include instances of drug addicted infants, physical or sexual abuse, abandonment, or malnourishment just to name a few. In most cases these children are placed in EFC (Emergency Foster Care) homes or shelters for weeks or months until an appropriate foster home has been established. The EFC homes are intended for short stays, but due to the shortage of foster homes, the length of stay may vary.
Secondly there is traditional or regular foster care. Traditional or regular foster care fosters children between the ages of 0 and 18. There are no limitations on the length of stay as is that of the EFC homes. The policies and laws are less restricted in traditional or regular foster care. Traditional or regular foster homes generally cater to a specific type of child. Although there may be instances where a child may present with moderate or severe behavioral problems, there are several approaches to take to minimize a child’s behavioral concerns. Some effective measures that may be beneficial include seeking professional help, such as counseling, therapy, psychiatric services, mentoring and seeking trainings that will certify individuals in behavior management.
Lastly there is therapeutic foster care. Therapeutic foster care is becoming more common as it relates to the placement of abused and neglected youths. Adjudicated youths are also being placed in TFC (Therapeutic Foster Care) homes. In most cases these youths are between the ages of 12 and 17, and have been adjudicated for various crimes ranging from incorrigibility, truancy, domestic violence, home invasion, larceny, and sexual assault. Due to the youth’s history with the court system, the TFC foster parents are trained to manage these types of behaviors. These youths tend to exhibit various behavior problems and require constant behavior modification and other therapies such as individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, grief and loss, and in most cases anger management.
As a Mental Health Therapist for youths placed in foster care, I have had the opportunity to experience various changes in foster care over the years. As I mentioned earlier, foster care has become more complex and less traditional over the years due to the population of youths we are dealing with today. They have multiple areas of concern and need the guidance of positive role models. I feel that with constant training for the foster parents, parents, guardians, and the professionals involved, we can make a difference in the lives of many foster kids, and lead them to becoming productive members of society.