When we go to health fairs and talk about our services, people often ask about our foster care program. They want to know: what makes it specialized? In the limited time we have to answer, we usually say something along the lines of: “It’s a foster care program that serves children with significant medical, emotional, or behavioral needs.” However, we don’t often get the chance to go in depth about how we meet the needs of these children.
Recently, I had the chance to sit down with Apelah’s foster care case manager supervisor, Bridgette, to pick her brain about what makes specialized foster care, well, special. Here are a few things that we talked about:
Specialized foster care, which covers a broad spectrum of needs from medical to physical to emotional, also includes therapeutic foster care, which is specific to children dealing with mental health issues.
Foster parents taking in children with special needs have required training, and they participate in additional training as new or previously undetected issues may come up for the child. At Apelah, we hold monthly foster parent trainings on a variety of topics.
If one child in a sibling group qualifies for specialized care, their siblings will often be placed with them in a specialized foster care home in order to keep them together.
Specialized foster care case managers and parents coordinate with the various professionals that a child might need services from. These professionals might include medical doctors, physical therapists, psychologists, or any number of other specialists. Depending on the need, to make things easier on the family, they may deliver these services at home.
Apelah’s case managers are available 24 hours a day to support our families. They also check in with the families once a week - every other week in person - and are available to take children to appointments.
Because children entering foster care don’t receive psych evaluations until they are 4 years old, there are often fewer babies and toddlers in specialized foster care.
At Apelah, our case managers work really hard to make sure that each child is receiving the care he or she needs. Like all foster children, their greatest need is often a whole lot of love.
As the marketing and communications coordinator at Apelah, I don’t always get the chance to connect with the families and children in our foster care program. I’m often typing away in my office or at meetings sharing information on our services. Every once in a while, it’s nice to get a reminder about what makes our program so special.
Want to know more about Apelah’s Specialized Foster Care Program in our community? Read this DeSoto Times Tribune article from May 2017 that talks about our services.