call for services(855) 362-8470

Foster Care FAQ

Alexander Youth Network’s Therapeutic Foster Care Program

What is the difference between Specialized and Therapeutic Care?

All youth in foster care are in need of structured and nurturing homes that can provide healing. Youth in Specialized Foster Care are in the custody of DSS and may or may not have been diagnosed with mental health needs. Youth in therapeutic foster care have been recommended by a clinician for the additional support provided in a therapeutic foster home.

What are the children’s needs?

Like all children, our youth need consistency and patience. Many of our children have been involved in the mental health system, some for several years. Some have mental health diagnoses that require medication. Others may have experienced abuse or trauma that had a lasting impact on them. We believe that mental trauma causes deep emotional pain that manifests in behavior problems.

A lot of our youth haven’t been taught healthy ways to get their needs met so they need role models who are willing to show them how to meet their needs in a healthy way. We want our youth to grow to become independent, successful members of society and they need the additional care, structure, and support that you can offer.

What does it take to be a successful therapeutic foster parent?

Open mindedness. Patience. Empathy. Responsibility. Communication. Commitment.

Who is qualified for foster parenting?

It takes all types to raise our youth and make a difference in their lives. Parents are qualified if they are at least 21 years old, have the available space in their home (which you can own or rent) and have three or less children already in the home. You can be single or married, working or retired. There is a set of screenings used to make sure that youth are placed in safe environments. We are looking for people who are committed to the belief that hope heals.

What are the ages of the children?

We need therapeutic foster parents for children from birth to age 21.

What is the cost to have a foster child?

There is no cost to you. You receive a monthly stipend (allowance) for the child’s needs, as well as for your time and effort.

How long will a child be in my home?

The average amount of time a child will be in your care is six months.

What support is offered?

Alexander Youth Network provides you with training before and after a youth is placed in your home. We also provide you with a Treatment Coach who will be your go-to support system. We have crisis support available 24/7/365 and we also offer respite. Respite is a way for you to have some time off to recharge your batteries by taking your foster child to another foster family. Alexander Youth Network offers you two days of respite a month. We also provide opportunities to interact with other treatment parents to learn new skills and gain additional peer support.

How long does it take to become a foster parent? What is the process like?

Plan on the process taking between four and nine months and most of that is dependent on how quickly a potential parent is able to provide the necessary documentation. A screening process is required prior to an invitation to begin classes. Alexander offers a 30-hour, six-week training course that focuses on skill development for caring for therapeutic youth. During the training period, a fire inspection will be conducted in your home, your fingerprints will be obtained and physicals will be required for you and all your family members. A couple of home visits will take place so the agency can get a good feel for your home. Once a license is submitted to the State for approval, it can take up to two months for the license to be returned and a match to be found.

Do foster parents ever adopt their foster child?

On rare occasions, treatment parent do adopt the youth in their home. However, the primary goal of therapeutic foster care is for youth to be reunified with their birth family or another discharge resource.

Where do the children come from?

Some youth have been removed from their home due to abuse, neglect, and/or dependency. Other youth come from their birth home. Some of our youth have completed successful levels of treatment in a more restrictive setting and are ready to “step-down” to a lower level of care. Some of the youth have been unsuccessful in less restrictive settings and need additional structure.

What else should I know?

We believe that with the right therapy in the right amount at the right time, we can help traumatized children heal. You will be responsible for transporting your child to therapy appointments, but your Treatment Coach will also serve as back-up for rare occasions when you cannot do so. You will be responsible for assuring your child is taking any prescribed medication.

Finally, you should know that many parents express that fostering is personally rewarding. You could be the next step in a healing process that will result in a child fully reaching his or her potential. Thank you for your interest in being a therapeutic foster care parent.