By: Duane Blankenship | Category: Special Interest | Issue: May 2007
Choices For Life staff: (front) Leslie Gallaway Yocham, supervisor; Mary Jones, therapist; (back) Tina Eubanks, therapist; Maria Carter, office manager; Sherry Peters, therapist; Lisa Prescott, trainer; Elva Westermark, therapist
Choices For Life Foster Care, Inc. is currently recruiting parents who would consider being the integral part of a professional treatment team by participating in the organization’s Therapeutic Foster Care. Operating under the premise that all children need and deserve good homes, the center hopes to provide that to children in need. The qualified staff recruits, trains and provides counseling services to foster children and their foster parents.
Foster parenting has made major progress in its 140-year history. Until the 1970’s, foster parents were basically parents. During the 1970’s and 80’s, adults accepting children into their homes were called parents plus. Since that time, foster parents are asked more and more to parent challenging children. In order to parent those challenging children, today’s foster parents must have additional training and skills than in the earlier years of foster parenting.
Leslie Gallaway Yocham, supervisor of the Sapulpa organization, says her location is one of three Choices For Life centers in Oklahoma. The other two centers are located in Checotah and Oklahoma City. “Our program specializes in treatment known as Therapeutic Foster Care. It is a specialized in-home treatment for children and youth with multiple psychological, social and emotional needs. The children can accept and respond to relationships within a family, but their special needs require more intensive or therapeutic service than is found in what might be called traditional foster care.”
Choices For Life is currently focused on recruiting treatment families who are willing to work in a partnership by documenting and providing daily in-home skills to foster care teenagers. Those in the Therapeutic Foster Care environment receive ongoing individual and family counseling services from qualified Choices For Life staff members. This multi-dimensional treatment model gives children a chance to be a part of a strong and stable family, develop life skills and work to develop positive, healthy relationships in their lives.
Multi-dimensional treatment foster care is a research-oriented program. Free time is supervised for teenagers in the program, and peer relationships are closely monitored both at home and at school. Positive relationship building at home is fostered through the family environment. Treatment families create learning opportunities in developing interpersonal and behavioral skills that will help children adapt in society.
Therapeutic Foster Care parents become the essential part of the professional treatment and have the primary responsibility for providing special-needs foster children with corrective and preparational living experiences. As the primary care provider, parents are also responsible for transportation and are expected to participate in therapy sessions and psychiatric appointments. They must also commit to being involved in school meetings, coordination of social and recreational activities, life skills training and management of medical appointments. Treatment foster parents are the greatest influences in the lives of the young children they foster.
Besides being a challenging and personally rewarding experience for the treatment parent, the lives of foster children are also enriched. If you partner with the Choices For Life treatment team, you will be nurturing an abused or neglected child. The experience is a tremendously fulfilling way to enhance the life of a child.
If you think you might be interested in learning more about Choices For Life’s Therapeutic Foster Care, please contact them today. Every child needs and deserves a good home.
Blankenship graduated from the University of Oklahoma and has enjoyed a lifetime career in advertising. He started his own advertising business in 1993 and enjoys creating graphic art and writing. Hobbies include hunting, fishing and pencil drawings. Duane and his wife, Janice, have been married over 50 years and are active in their church and community. He has been a contributing writer for Value News/Values Magazine since 2005.