Kai* entered foster care in January 2020 aged 14. When he arrived, he had been diagnosed with moderate depression, social anxiety and moderate OCD and he had been refusing to take his medication for some time.
“I don’t feel lost anymore, I haven’t been suspended or expelled from school and I finally have some friends.”
Dylan is just eight years old; he has been in our Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) program for nine months and, his wish to go home to his mum is about to come true.
Dylan’s mum Jane* has been working hard with our TFCO Family Therapist to improve her parenting skills and remain drug-free, while the team worked with Dylan to address his challenging behaviours.
Dylan had been exposed to family violence from a very young age and was removed from Jane’s care due to her substance misuse, limited parenting ability and instability in providing secure and appropriate housing for Dylan and his siblings. When Dylan entered the TFCO program he had been living in a residential care home with other kids of varying ages.
At just eight years old Dylan had experienced so much, his trauma resulted in violent and abusive outbursts, and he was struggling to fit in. He was not attending school, was destructive and frustrated, he had no friends and believed adults were the enemy.
Jane was ready to do whatever it took to get her kids back. TFCO was the chance at a new beginning this family so desperately needed.
Dylan’s specially trained Treatment Foster Carers worked hard to implement some structure and routine into Dylan’s life and teach him new things like how to ride a bike, make his bed and brush his teeth.
“We knew this was Dylan’s last chance at going home to mum, so we were determined to see him succeed in TFCO. It wasn’t long before small changes turned into big changes and Dylan started to turn a corner,”– remembers TFCO carer Filomena.
TFCO is made up of a team of skilled professionals to support each child, the carers and the after-care placement, in this case – Dylan’s mum Jane.
Treatment foster carers are specially trained to provide close supervision and coaching, and implement a structured, individualised program for each child or young person.
And the team of highly skilled professionals available to coach, train and develop the personal skills of children and young people mean they are supported to build a range of coping strategies and problem-solving skills to address areas of difficulty in their lives.
While the TFCO program is expensive, we know it is a program we must continue to deliver, after all, these are childhoods we are talking about saving.
Recruiting carers is not only challenging and time-consuming but there is also a significant cost involved. Then there is the training and accreditation process for these specialised carers. And ongoing support.
Now almost nine months on Dylan is like a new kid. He loves going to school, has some great friends and has built coping strategies and problem-solving skills which will assist him as he gets older.
“I don’t feel lost anymore and am starting to like myself. My teachers even say how good I’m doing, I think they are just happy that I am quiet in class now and they don’t have to kick me out.”
And Jane has a new lease on life, new skills and has had the opportunity to address her own trauma, identifying how patterns of behaviour can impact negatively on the emotional well-being of herself and her kids.
Without the TFCO program, Dylan, and other children and young people don’t have the opportunity to break the cycle of disadvantage they face. TFCO gives some of our most vulnerable kids the chance at a brighter future.
*names have been changed to protect the identities of this family.
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OzChild is always looking for foster carers for the TFCO program and respite carers to ensure full-time carers get the chance to recharge by taking a break.
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