therapeutic foster care

Therapeutic foster care

We founded therapeutic fostering in 1987 - today, it's widely recognised as an effective approach that’s been adopted by many other therapeutic foster care agencies.

What is therapeutic foster care?

Many looked after children – especially those we care for at ISP – have had particularly difficult starts in life. While commitment and a caring, loving home go a long way to help, there’s sometimes the need for a little extra.

We define therapeutic foster care as ‘enabling 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’.

Another way of looking at it is helping children and young people pick up the pieces of a fragmented life and helping them put it all back together. It’s a way of helping children and young people understand themselves better and to get in touch with their feelings and emotions.

what is therapeutic foster care

Looking beyond behaviour

Therapeutic fostering encourages foster parents to look beyond behaviour and to 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?
  • What’s going through their heads?
  • 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 and understanding, 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 and over time, help the child find more appropriate ways of communicating their emotions.

therapeutic foster carers

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.

Wendy and Steve, ISP Foster Parents

Join one of our local events to become a therapeutic foster carer

Supporting our 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 people 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 help, and when it’s needed, it all falls into place around you and the child you’re looking after.

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foster parents providing therapeutic care to their foster child

Extensive support for young people

Every child that comes into our care is assessed by a therapist and a plan is put into place. For some children, there’s no need for direct therapy. Others might need help with grief counselling, feelings of neglect, anxiety or depression.

As a therapeutic foster parent, you become part of a professional team where we all work together to wrap the right levels of care around every single child and young person.

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 therapeutic foster care agencies

What do you need to become a foster parent?

To become a therapeutic foster parent, you must be over 21 years old, have a spare bedroom and the legal right to work in the UK, and be committed to a child in your care.

Above and beyond that, you'll need to be calm, patient and open to learning about yourself and the children in your care. You'll be a good listener and communicator and able to think deeply about the feelings of others.

Requirements to foster

Transfer fostering agency process

Get in touch with the team