Therapeutic Foster Care: An Introduction

Foster care is about sheltering and protecting vulnerable children from neglectful, unhealthy living conditions where they are at risk of suffering mental, physical, and/or sexual abuse. Unfortunately, most children who are taken into protective custody by local authorities have already been affected by traumatic events in the past. Sometimes it’s not even about abuse, but just the inability of some parents to take care of a mentally and/or physically disabled child that makes it necessary for the local authorities to step in.

While taking a child away from their potentially or actively damaging situations is the first step, it’s not a cure for what they have already been through. Especially in case of children on the spectrum, that change in environment itself becomes a traumatic experience for them. Therapeutic foster carers with the right training and experience are specially equipped to help children who are in similar situations.

What is Therapeutic Fostering?

Therapeutic fostering is a specialised type of foster care which can only be provided by appropriately trained foster carers. Some therapeutic foster carers are given special training to take care of children with one or more physical and/or mental disabilities/special conditions. Others have the knowledge, training, and experience to help highly traumatised foster children manage their traumatic experiences and posttraumatic complexities as best as possible.

How Do You Become a Therapeutic Foster Care Provider?

If you wish to provide children with a better, safer home to live in and help them recover, you will need to be adequately trained as a therapeutic foster carer. 

As long as you qualify as a foster carer and meet your IFA’s expectations/standards, they will train you adequately to become a therapeutic foster carer. For more details regarding how to get started with your therapeutic foster care training, contact ISP Fostering. You don’t need any special qualifications to join a training course in therapeutic fostering.

Can Regular Foster Children Benefit from Therapeutic Foster Care?

The difference between a highly traumatised foster child and a regular foster child is often that of degree and not kind. Every child in the foster care system has lived through bad situations or they would not have ended up in foster care to begin with. Therefore, all therapeutic foster carers have the potential to be better carers for even seemingly regular foster children.

The need for therapeutic foster care is undoubtedly more urgent for children who have survived through severe traumatic episodes or those who struggle with exigent disabilities. Nevertheless, they are not the only ones who stand to benefit from it.

Note that there are several different courses, Levels (I - III), and specialisations in therapeutic foster care education and training. Completing one does not automatically qualify you as a therapeutic foster carer, however. 

Foster care agencies offer different types of training for foster carers, so it is important to understand what therapeutic training is. Talk with your IFA and complete the courses that best suit your natural inclinations as a foster carer.