By: Duane Blankenship | Category: Special Interest | Issue: December 2007
Pictured is the Choices For Life Foster Care team: (front) Elva Westermark, therapist; Leslie Yocham, supervisor; Maria Carter, office manager; (back) Stephen Barton,therapist; Lisa Prescott, trainer and recruiter; Donna Bonds, therapist; Kelly Dunbar, case manager and therapist; Greg Stiver, therapist.
Our country currently has three million emotionally-disturbed children, two-thirds of which are not receiving the services they need. Countless others receive inappropriate care. Research has indicated the need for comprehensive, community-based, family-focused systems of care for troubled children and youths. That is where Choices For Life Foster Care comes in.
Now, more than ever, there is a pressing need for qualified foster care parents, especially those who are willing to accept teenagers into their homes and lives. “With the holidays just around the corner, we are actively seeking parents who are willing to be treatment parents for youths 14 years of age and older,” says Choices For Life’s Leslie Yocham, supervisor. “While it’s easier to place younger children, our older children are actually much easier to provide care for. They are more verbal and enjoy more time alone than younger children. However, it is more difficult to find homes in which to place the older youth.”
Choices For Life specializes in treatment known as Therapeutic Foster Care. The program provides in-home treatment for children and teenagers with multiple psychological, social and emotional needs. While they can accept and respond to relationships within a family, the special needs of these youth require more intensive and therapeutic services than are found in traditional foster care.
When a treatment family partners with Choices For Life, they together document daily in-home skills. Children in the Therapeutic Foster Care environment receive counseling services from qualified staff members. They receive individual and family counseling, and they participate in group counseling sessions. This multidimensional treatment model gives youth a chance to be part of a strong and stable family, develop life skills and move towards positive, healthy relations in their lives.
Choices For Life is planned, therapeutic intervention; the healthy development of youth is promoted. Treatment parents are trained to provide their foster children with experiences and conditions that promote healthy, normal growth and a safe environment.
To become a Choices For Life parent, one must meet the organization’s and Oklahoma’s licensing regulations. The certification process takes approximately two months. Parents must be at least 21 years of age to participate in the program, have a regular income prior to foster care reimbursements, have appropriate bedroom space for their foster child or children, complete the Choices For Life training program, pass a background check, as well as complete a home study. While becoming a treatment parent is not simple, the rewards are numerous.
A variety of services is offered to treatment parents. Pre-certification and ongoing training and support is provided, as well as screening and matching of treatment parents to foster children. Support and crisis services are available 24 hours a day. Treatment parents also receive a support group, respite care and family therapy.
Therapeutic Foster Care parents are an integral part of the professional treatment team. They are primarily responsible for providing their foster children with corrective and preparational living experiences. They are involved in school meetings and in the coordination of social and recreational activities and medical appointments. Treatment foster parents are the primary agents of change in the lives of these children.
Sound rewarding? Call Choices For Life Foster Care today at (918) 248-4340 to find out more. Additional information is also available online at www.cflfostercare.com.
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.