Ethan is a 15-year-old boy who has been in foster care since he was three years old. Sadly, he has had numerous placements and a very disrupted history with no stable school or home life. Until a specialised foster care program changed his life.
For the first time in Australia an evidence-based, internationally successful program, Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) is providing an alternative to residential care and returning young people with problem behaviours back to a stable family life.
Before he came to the TFCO program Ethan had a history of antisocial behaviour, rarely attended school, moved through several different foster homes and spent time in a residential group home with other teens. No life for any young person.
Leading child welfare agency, OzChild is dedicated to supporting vulnerable children, young people and families and is currently delivering TFCO in Australia.
Ethan's birth family were keen to have him return to the family home, but first some work needed to be done to ensure they could all live together.
Ethan knew the TFCO program was a step towards home, so he agreed to participate, and he moved in with a specially trained carer to begin his life-changing journey. Meanwhile, the TFCO Family Therapist worked closely with his birth family to assist with the transition home.
TFCO foster carers receive comprehensive training and ongoing support within this highly structured treatment program which involves positive reinforcement and therapeutic support for vulnerable young people in a family environment.
With a placement duration of 9 to 12 months, the aim is to keep the young person out of the residential care system reuniting them with their family where possible or transitioning them to a long-term foster care placement.
"Sadly, for some children in out-of-home care the effects of childhood trauma, neglect or abuse make it difficult to manage their feelings, thoughts and behaviour. This can put those children at risk of being excluded from the benefits of a stable family environment, creating a cycle of worsening behaviour and negative outcomes," says Dr Lisa J. Griffiths, OzChild's Chief Executive Officer.
Using a behaviour modification program based on age-appropriate rewards, TFCO teaches interpersonal skills and encourages participation in positive social activities including sports and hobbies. The young person is coached through supported practice in community settings and supported to build a range of coping strategies and problem-solving skills to address areas of difficulty in their lives.
"The Treatment Foster Care Oregon program is crucial in providing the support so desperately needed by some of our most vulnerable children. We are however limited by the number of carers we can recruit restricting the number of children being able to enter treatment," says Dr Griffiths.
Committing to becoming a TFCO carer is a life-changing decision, not only for a young person like Ethan, who absolutely deserves a bright future, but for carers too.
Starting the journey is often the hardest part but, rest assured OzChild will support you every step of the way.
Children and young adults participating in the program are not the only people provided with the support needed to successfully complete the program. Carers are supported every step of the way starting with extensive training and guidance on how to teach children to socialise positively, engage in healthy community activities, build coping strategies and develop problem solving skills.
Carers are supported by a professional team with a minimum of six contacts per week: five 5-minute contacts and one two-hour group, where foster carers come together, share their experiences and support one another. There are also additional contacts based on the amount of support or consultation required.
Ethan's life has turned around in just 12 short months. He graduated from the program with a positive attitude, improved behaviour, and the skills to support positive change. Not only has his attendance and participation at school improved dramatically Ethan is living back at home with his mum and siblings. The family is enjoying more positive relationships and interactions.
Have you got what it takes to change a young person's life?
OzChild is currently looking for individuals or couples interested in participating in this internationally proven foster care program. Carers will receive a generous tax-free reimbursement of $65,000-$75,000 per annum.
- Have experience in dealing with young people with complex behaviours?
- Have a suitable living space including a spare bedroom?
- Have a good support network?
- Have the flexibility to be available for the young person's needs?
- Have the ability to champion positive change for a young person?
- Have room in your heart?
Start your life-changing journey today and visit OzChild.