Becoming a Foster Caregiver with Therapeutic Foster Caregiving

About Therapeutic Foster Caregiving

Therapeutic Foster Caregiving (TFC) is a culturally responsive, family-based service for youth ages 13-17 with complex care needs, who would benefit from therapeutic and specialized services delivered by skilled, trained, nurturing caregivers and the youth’s therapeutic team.

Young people with complex care needs benefit from family based care, with highly trained, skilled and committed caregivers who can support them and ready them for transition to their next placement.  The youth benefit from a wraparound approach, where the youth, professionals, caregivers, and natural supports work together in an intentional, trauma-informed manner to help the youth heal, build a sense of connection and belonging, and acquire skills that promote healthy functioning and development.

Hull Services and McMan Youth, Family and Community Services are partners in the delivery of TFC services.  Staff work closely with caregivers to support their work and help them reach their potential. Caregivers are primary change agents who share a passion for working with youth, a commitment.

Who Can Become a Therapeutic Foster Caregiver

Is therapeutic fostering right for me/us?

If you are a responsible, mature and caring adult who can answer yes to the following questions, fostering may be right for you and your family:

  • I am a resident of Calgary and area
  • I have at least one spare bedroom for a youth
  • I enjoy engaging with youth
  • I have a flexible schedule to accommodate training, meetings and the youth’s needs
  • I am committed to making a difference and acquiring specialized knowledge and skills
  • I experience a stable living situation which includes my financial state
  • I have good general health and mental health
  • I have no criminal record or government intervention record
  • There is nothing in my history that would pose a risk to youth
  • I have a driver’s license and reliable vehicle, or am willing to obtain these
  • My overall command of the English language is good (verbal and written)

Reasons to Foster with Us

Reputation for Providing Leading Edge Child, Youth, and Family Mental Health Services

Hull Services is a well respected organization that has been providing mental health services to children, young adults and families for over 58 years.

As an Agency we:

Supports and Resources for Therapeutic Foster Caregivers

Fostering Connections has been providing quality foster care services for approximately 45 years. Therapeutic Foster Caregiving has built on this success and experience to offer a therapeutic program to fill a need for youth with complex needs.

Therapeutic Foster parents have access to many supports and resources:

Agency Resources 

  • Experienced, dedicated Hull staff member to support you through becoming a therapeutic foster parent; specialized training and support to build competence as a therapeutic foster parent
  • Competitive, tax free per diem rates and training stipends
  • In-home support and after hours on-call support
  • Access to supports from Hull’s Trauma Informed Services Department
  • Access to other Hull resources such as a youth worker, mentors for children/youth, donations, etc.
  • Networking and learning opportunities through our support meetings
  • Celebration and recognition events for therapeutic foster parents /families

Cultural Resources

  • Indigenous services such as access to elders, cultural ceremonies such as smudging and sweats, and Indigenous helpers
  • Support in accessing other cultural resources

Training Resources

  • Therapeutic foster caregiver training such as First Aid, Trauma-Informed Caregiver Training, Indigenous Teachings, etc.

Other Resources

  • Your health and wellbeing is important to us, so we provide foster families with free access to our Employee Assistance program
  • Financial compensation for respite care and breaks between placements
  • Families need to spend time together, so we purchase each of our foster families an annual membership to the Calgary Foster Parent’s Association, where they have access to recreational activities and connection with other caregivers

Steps to Becoming a Therapeutic Foster Caregiver

There are several steps to becoming a therapeutic foster caregiver, beginning with your decision to embark on this journey.

The therapeutic foster caregiver is the primary change agent, who is skilled, competent, and relationship-based. The first step is to become a licensed foster parent; these steps are outlined below. As part of the onboarding process, the prospective caregiver will also complete specialized training made available by the Agency and Agency partner. Some of the specialized training will reflect the needs of youth who are matched to your home in addition to the development needs of the prospective caregiver.

You are now ready to foster with Therapeutic Foster Caregiving! We will work together with you to match a youth to your home.

FAQs

Please note that this is a new provincial initiative, and this service is still taking shape.  Please reach out and we are happy to answer your questions.

  • How is Therapeutic Foster Caregiving different from standard Foster Care?

    The young people in therapeutic foster caregiving require a different approach to service delivery than standard foster care or congregate care settings.

    Young people with complex care needs benefit from family based care, with highly trained, skilled and committed caregivers who can support them and ready them for transition to their next placement. The youth benefit from a wraparound approach, where the youth, professionals, caregivers, and natural supports work together in an intentional, trauma-informed manner to help the youth heal, build a sense of connection and belonging, and acquire skills that promote healthy functioning and development. The caregiver skill building, program support model, and the building of a support network is more intensive and requires additional resources such as clinical supports and access to cultural services. In addition, caregivers are compensated at a higher rate to reflect the level of skill required and the time required to perform their role and respective duties.

  • Do I need to have professional experience working with youth?

    While this would be additive, the answer is no. We believe that you should have experience interacting with youth, so that you have an understanding of this age group and what normative development looks like at this stage. You should enjoy interacting with this age group and have a genuine interest in spending time with them.

  • Do I have a say in who comes to stay with me?

    There is a government process for referring youth, which includes the government’s endorsement of the placement. Service providers will screen the government referrals and determine which youth are a fit based on program resources, caregiver skill level, and the caregiver’s circumstances. Staff will then profile the youth to you for your input. Youth will also have a say in what is important to them in a living arrangement and it will be important for the caregivers and youth to meet in advance and to establish a viable transition plan.

  • As a short term service, how long will a youth stay in my care?

    Timelines vary based on the youth’s preparedness to move forward, the transition period required, as well as the readiness of their next home or placement.

    Length of stay is estimated at 6-12 months, but it may be longer.

  • What expenses am I required to cover?

    As with standard foster care, per diem rates include both a skill fee and a fee to offset the cost of caring for a young person such as clothing, allowance, food and shelter. The government typically covers costs such as medical expenses, vacation and recreation, and school fees, and they may review other expenses on an individual basis. The caregiver skill fee is higher than standard foster care rates, as is the rate provided for respite care. Some recreational activity costs may also be covered by the program as part of the goal to connect the youth to their community and supports.

  • Why is the caregiver per diem rate significantly higher than the standard foster care rate?

    The therapeutic foster caregiving role is a specialized role. The rate reflects the level of skill that is required, as well as the requirements placed on caregivers to complete training, attend numerous meetings, and tend to the needs of the young people in their care. It may enable one of two caregivers to stay at home.

  • Can I work and still perform this role?

    While it is preferable for a primary caregiver to stay home, we understand that this isn’t always feasible. We do require that there is flexibility in your work role to perform your responsibilities and support the youth.

    You can discuss your situation with our staff and they can help you determine whether this role is a good fit.

  • Can I serve as a caregiver when I have small children?

    One primary objective for the youth is to provide them with placement stability, which is one predictor of success. The care needs of young children are quite high and they are demanding of parents’ resources. In addition, some youth issues and presenting behaviors may cause concern for a parent and this can put the placement at risk. Therefore, a home with children under the age of 12 is not considered suitable. Staff will discuss your living situation in more detail, to help you determine whether this is a fit for you.

  • How long does the caregiver onboarding process take?

    The process can take 6-10 months, depending on how quickly applicants complete the application and training requirements, as well as the government’s approval and licensing timelines. We will be here to support you along the way.

For more information contact