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Devereux earns prestigious certification to further exceptional foster care services

The Devereux Pennsylvania Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services (CIDDS) Community Services of Philadelphia Foster Care Program and the Devereux Center for Effective Schools were recently certified in the Together Facing the Challenge evidence-based model for therapeutic foster care. 

Together Facing the Challenge (TFTC) certification allows Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS Community Services of Philadelphia to provide independent TFTC training and consultation to its therapeutic foster parents. Note: Therapeutic (or treatment) foster care differs from traditional foster care settings because it is focused on fostering children with behavioral, emotional and social concerns. 

“We are thrilled to be an ‘officially certified implementer’ of TFTC, and proud that Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS is just the third foster care program in the nation to be fully certified,” said Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS Executive Director Melanie Beidler. “Having foster parents who are highly-trained in this evidence-based model will help them provide an advanced level of care for these children, giving them the tools they need to provide a loving home, while teaching specific skills and reducing challenging behaviors.” 

Devereux Center for Effective Schools (CES) Director Dr. Barry McCurdy added: “This is an immense achievement for our organization. Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is now the largest provider of therapeutic foster care services nationally to have a site certified in TFTC.” 

About the TFTC model

TFTC is a training and consultation approach that improves practices in treatment foster care (TFC). Incorporating elements from existing evidence-based treatments, the model includes training and consultation for TFC supervisors and treatment foster parents. TFTC is a train-the-trainer system, meaning TFC administrative/supervisory personnel learn the model and are then able to train treatment foster parents.  

Just a few program goals include: implementing effective parenting techniques, preparing youth for their future by teaching independence skills, creating a positive home environment and improving outcomes for youth served in therapeutic foster care settings. Click here to learn more about the TFTC program. 

A comprehensive certification process

The process to become TFTC-certified is comprehensive.  

“During this two-year endeavor, we conducted numerous foster parent trainings, restructured case management services, designed complementary training for case managers to implement the model, and conducted a two-year outcome study showing a significant and positive impact of TFC on an urban population,” McCurdy explained. “Achieving full certification was a result of the combined effort of multiple Devereux centers, departments and staff members; foster parents; volunteer child care workers and data collectors; and the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation, which provided the generous support needed for this initiative.” 

As a result of the certification, Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS offers enhanced foster parent training to build relationships with their foster children. The training, among other things:

  • Helps parents identify situations in which a child’s traumatic past can impact his/her ability to form positive relationships;
  • Promotes cultural sensitivity, exploring and supporting youths’ different aspects of identity;
  • Teaches cooperation, relevant life skills and the use of problem-solving techniques;
  • Assists foster parents in helping children recognize, talk about and deal with difficult feelings; and
  • Helps foster parents prevent power struggles and de-escalate problem behavior. 

“With the numbers of youth needing mental health services on the rise, it is important to ensure that therapeutic foster care programs are equipped to effectively serve at-risk youth,” said CES Consulting and Research Psychologist Dr. Rachel Eisenberg. “The findings from the research study we conducted – with the implementation of TFTC in PA CIDDS Community Services of Philadelphia – can help us contribute to the larger scientific community. Our research study provides further evidence that the TFTC program is effective in reducing problem behaviors and decreasing youth at risk for behavioral health concerns (e.g., emotional disturbance).”  

Next steps: TFTC expansion!

Discussion is currently underway to adopt the TFTC model in other Devereux foster care programs, leading to an organization-wide implementation of evidence-based practice in therapeutic foster care.  

“It has been a joy to collaborate on this project with such dedicated professionals and foster parents who feel strongly about helping foster youth succeed,” said Devereux Pennsylvania Community Services Director of Clinical Services Dr. Rich Allen. “The best part was seeing the excitement as we worked with our foster parents to implement this model in a way that meets the unique needs of foster children in Philadelphia.”  

For more information about Together Facing the Challenge, click here. To learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, click here.

 

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