Nonprofit launches campaign to recruit and train foster parents of children needing therapeutic care

The Child Welfare Initiative (CWI) has developed a collaborative network of resources to facilitate the recruitment, training and ongoing support to foster parents of children who require therapeutic foster care– children who have greater behavioral and emotional needs and require a greater level of care from the parents. The CWI is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to implement programs and practices that produce measurable improvements in the lives of children and families involved in child-welfare systems.
Collaborating with six respected foster-family agencies in the greater Los Angeles area (Aviva, ChildNet, Children’s Institute Inc., Five Acres, Hathaway-Sycamores and Olive Crest), the Children’s Welfare Initiative has created an interactive community of resources housed at extraordinary-families.org. The site, which launched this week, serves as a means to inform interested parents on the level of care needed to successfully parent one of these children. Once the foster parents are committed to becoming certified, extraordinary-families.org serves as a gateway for peer mentoring through forums, articles and studies from experts in the field, and general helpful information.
“With approximately 19,000 children in foster care in Los Angeles, there are fewer than 100 certified families to help the children who have been identified as needing therapeutic foster care,” said Andrew Bridge, executive director of CWI who grew up in Los Angeles County foster care. “As more children are identified as requiring therapeutic foster care, the call for more parents will also grow, and we want to ensure that the needs of those children are being met. First and foremost, we want to recruit the necessary number of qualified families to help these children reach their potential.”
In addition to the Extraordinary Families website, the six agencies in the collaborative will help with recruitment through foster-family referrals and information meetings to answer questions and share experiences with interested parents. The agencies have also committed to upgrading their practices to improve retention including creating more support groups, increasing respite and childcare opportunities, and creating systems for gathering parent feedback.
The CWI conducted seven focus groups earlier this year and found that the foster parents of these identified children are looking for a resource to help them in their daily challenges, according to the organization. Peer support, guidance and education were the requests that were repeated most often in the focus groups, and that input has helped to form the framework for the Extraordinary Families program, CWI staff shared.
“Making a difference in the life of a child was cited in the focus groups as the most rewarding benefit these foster parents experienced,” said Greg Srolestar, CWI program associate. “This collaborative online community seeks to make this reality true for more families. Therapeutic foster care uses a team-oriented approach where each parent is surrounded by professional support available at any time, day or night. Add in forums and support groups, and the parents who join our collaborative will be surrounded by assistance. We recognize the commitment required of these parents and want to make sure they feel supported the entire time the child is in their home.”
For more information visit extraordinary-families.org or call (323) 549-3426. Extraordinary Families can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Source: CWI

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