Creating opportunities for young people in foster care and the loving foster parents who open their hearts and homes is top of mind for the Treatment Foster Care (TFC) team at UMFS.
But creating opportunity requires careful planning.
“All families begin aftercare and discharge planning from day one,” said Holly Coates, UMFS Regional Director for the South and West region. “As young people are placed in our program, we are immediately looking at biological family and other step down options, as well as after-care support to promote permanency and stability after the child leaves our program.”
The results suggest that this proactive approach is paying dividends, as more than 70 percent of young people who discharge from the TFC program in the South and West region find permanency. A contributing factor, Holly said, is the intentional focus on relationship-building.
“Our foster families are open to communication and developing a healthy rapport and strong birth-family connections to support the children in their home,” Holly said. Therefore, youth in care sometimes return to birth families or relatives after completing the TFC program. Other times, they’re adopted.
And if relationships are the building blocks, then perhaps experience is the glue that binds it all together.
“We have several families who have fostered with UMFS for more than 15 years,” Holly explained. “Those families are assets to children, but also to other foster parents as they mentor, provide support, and assist when newer families are coming on and are unsure, concerned, or needing self-assurance.”
Being a foster parent is hard work, to be sure. But foster parents are willing to do whatever it takes to provide youth in care with safe and loving homes. Foster parents also recognize that no matter how difficult things might be, ultimately it’s the young people in foster care who’re experiencing the most substantial challenges.
Thankfully, neither foster parents nor youth in care have to walk the journey alone.
“We have longtime foster families who have been successful doing hard things,” Holly said. “And those families are there for others to say, ‘I’ve done that, and you can do that, too.’”
There is an immediate need for foster parents in the UMFS South and West region. Visit UMFS.org/foster today to learn how you can make a difference in the life of a young person in foster care.