What is therapeutic foster care?
Therapeutic fostering is a specialist type of fostering, designed to support children and young people who have experienced trauma prior to being placed in care.
Many looked after children – especially those we care for at ISP – have had particularly difficult starts in life, often experiencing abuse, neglect or severe disruption.
While commitment and a loving home can go a long way, some children need extra care.
ISP Integrated Therapeutic Model
We believe that therapeutic foster care should enable children and young people to get to know who they are, so they can grow to reach their emotional, social and educational potential, and live in harmony with themselves and others.
We achieve this by:
- Placing the child or young person at the centre of our foster care model and tailoring care and treatment plans to their specific needs.
- Surrounding them with an integrated team of adults, including foster parents, therapists, social workers and educational experts.
- Working together to ensure the child is getting the right treatment to support their psychological, emotional and behavioural development.
This enhanced level of therapeutic support for children in care gives every young person the opportunity to lead healthy, happy lives.
Therapeutic Fostering and Therapy
All of the children we look after at ISP are given individual treatment plans tailored to their needs. After being assessed by our in-house therapists, they may need specialist therapy for foster children.
Depending on the child or young person’s situation, they might receive child and adolescent psychotherapy, speech and language therapy, art and play therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and more.
What’s also important is that our therapeutic approach to foster care allow the foster parent to be an active part of the child’s therapy team, with the goal being to improve their psychological and emotional well-being.
A therapeutic foster carer is given extensive training and education to help them effectively deal with challenging behaviour, helping the child to process, manage and communicate their emotions more appropriately.
Therapeutic foster care looks beyond behaviour
Therapeutic fostering encourages foster carers to look beyond behaviour and look at the reasons behind it instead. For example, if a child becomes angry, we try to understand why they’re reacting that way:
- What caused this situation?
- Have they been triggered by their past?
- What does the anger really mean?
- Is it confusion, frustration or anxiety?
- What’s the behaviour really telling us about the child?
- What are they really trying to communicate?
By putting ourselves in their shoes, we’re in a better place to help.
And of course, we provide all the training and support to help you understand and manage the behaviour. The goal is to help the child find more appropriate ways of communicating their emotions.
Our fostering experts bring together their knowledge, advice and insights to help foster parents.
Children With Complex Needs
We have designed a series of articles to help you care for children with complex needs.
Therapeutic foster care training and support
You don’t need to be experienced in therapeutic fostering to join ISP. With over 35 years' experience in therapeutic foster care, we pride ourselves on delivering a first-class training programme and ongoing professional development.
As an ISP foster parent, you'll receive essential foster training to empower you to become the best you can be, as well as a range of specialist courses that we’re always adding to.
You can access vital courses such as;
- Child Protection
- Creating a Therapeutic Childcare Environment
- Paediatric First Aid
- Autism Awareness
- Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
- PACE (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity, Empathy)
There’s even the chance to study for professional qualifications, such as NVQ3 or a QCF Level 3 in Health and Social Care. Our aim is to help our foster parents become as knowledgeable as possible because that improves the experiences of the children and young people in our care.
Support for therapeutic foster parents
Therapeutic fostering is about talking, thinking, and reflecting on experiences. This can be done within the fostering family or in the company of others.
For example, we hold reflective practice groups for foster parents at their local centre, where everyone is encouraged to share practice and strategies that worked in certain situations. It’s all part of our extensive support package for foster parents.
Sometimes, there’s a need for additional specialist support, and when it’s needed, it all falls into place around you and the child you’re looking after.
Frequently asked questions
How much does therapeutic foster care pay?
We give our foster carers generous financial allowances to reflect their specialist skills, hard work and knowledge. You can get up to £24,500 a year per child – and more if you’re based in London – with most of it being tax-free.
What’s the difference between therapeutic foster care Vs regular foster care?
Therapeutic foster care is a specialist approach to help support and treat children who have complex or additional needs. This means our therapeutic foster carers take part in specific training programmes to equip them with the tools and skills they need.
At ISP, we also ensure our therapeutic foster care pay reflects the hard work our foster parents put in.
Are there specialist therapeutic foster care agencies?
We founded therapeutic fostering in 1987 as we recognised there were children coming into care that needed extra support. It’s now recognised as an effective approach to fostering and some agencies offer training in therapeutic foster care, but we’re proud to have led the way.
We have learned to recognise that what your heart and head say must be balanced and that children cannot be made better just by unconditional love.