May is National Foster Care Awareness month! This year’s theme is Strengthening Minds. Uplifting Families.” which will bring to focus the need for quality mental health services for those in the foster care system. Quality Youth Services is a short-term foster care agency that recruits, trains, hires and supports foster parents throughout Utah. In this article, we will highlight ways Quality Youth Services supports the mental health of not only our foster youth, but foster parents and staff.
Recent research confirms the importance of mental health and wellness supports. Data shows increases in mental health challenges for older youth, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Young children can also face mental health challenges, which, if left untreated, can prevent a child from reaching their full potential. We cannot wait for mental health struggles to manifest before acting. The journey of exploring the mental health needs of children and families must begin early so that we may engage appropriate interventions sooner rather than later.
Mental Health Services for Every Foster Youth
Within a few days of being placed in a Quality Youth Services foster home, the youth will be assigned an individual therapist who will act at the child’s advocate in getting their emotional and psychological needs met. The therapist will immediately assess the youth’s current mental health condition, review supporting documentation of previous mental health interventions and provide the youth with an individualized treatment plan to improve problem areas. While not all youth have a severe clinical need for mental health services, every foster youth has experienced trauma related to being removed from their home and placed in a new, foreign environment. The youth’s mental health assessment and treatment plan will dictate the mental health services the youth will receive which could include: individual, family and group therapies, one-on-one skill building sessions with a Psychosocial Rehabilitation Provider, Medication Management, and one-on-one mentoring services with trained staff.
Trauma Informed, Individualized, and Culturally Responsive Treatment
Quality Youth Services uses the most effective therapy practices to help impact positive change in the lives of the youth we work with. QYS uses a therapeutic approach that is trauma-informed and individualized to the youth which will consider that each child in a single family may be impacted differently and any plan will be person-centered. All QYS therapists, staff and other professionals undergo Cultural Sensitivity training in order to broaden our perspectives and be more accepting of cultural differences. Culturally responsive treatment could mean treatment plans that include traditional, and non-Westernized traditional practices. Using a lens of compassion and cultural humility to understand the ways that culture can impact how a person approaches mental health is vital to being able to connect children, youth, and families to the services they need.
While there is some controversy about giving youth psychotropic medications, Quality Youth Services will never make a youth “feel bad” for having to take medications to help resolve or improve their mental health. Our agency employs APRN Paula Braun to evaluate and prescribe medications to our foster youth. Every foster youth placed with Quality Youth Services may be recommended for a Medication Evaluation by their individual therapist based on diagnosis and their clinical need. While some medications are vital for a youth’s everyday functioning, such as a medication that decreases hallucinations or paranoid thoughts, others may be prescribed as needed. After the initial evaluation, foster youth will follow up with our prescriber on a monthly basis to track progress, report adverse symptoms, and ensure the medications are at a therapeutic dosage. Additionally, foster youth have the right to refuse medications if they so choose.
24 Hour Support
Need help at 3 am because your foster youth is in crisis? QYS is available any time of day or night to intervene and help resolve the situation through our after hours on-call workers. Quality Youth Services offers foster parents and youth 24 hour support from their treatment team. On-call workers are trained to de-escalate problem situations, resolve multiple types of conflict, offer assistance to foster youth or parents, and connect foster parents and youth to immediate resources in cases of medical or mental health emergencies. On-call workers are trained to follow up with the rest of the treatment within regular business hours to inform them of the situation, taking pressure and stress off of the foster parents.
Team Support that Includes a Therapist
A benefit to being a foster parent with a private agency like Quality Youth Services is the amount of extra support foster parents receive for their youth.
At Quality Youth Services, every youth is given a treatment team that consists of the State Case Manager, a QYS Treatment Coordinator, a QYS therapist, a QYS Youth Mentor(s), their biological family and their foster parents to help them succeed while in our program and beyond. The foster youth’s therapist will act as their advocate and report their progress in situations such as monthly team meetings, court proceedings, school meetings, etc. to ensure the youth’s needs are being met.
The Use of Evidence-Based Practices
Evidence-based practices are an intervention or tool that has been tested and researched to show their efficiency and effectiveness in providing a desired result. Quality Youth Services only used evidence-based therapy practices. THe two most common and effective therapy modalities used by QYS therapists are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It's most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.
Dialectical behavior therapy is an evidence-based psychotherapy that began with efforts to treat personality disorders and interpersonal conflicts. Evidence suggests that DBT can be useful in treating mood disorders and suicidal ideation, as well as for changing behavioral patterns such as self-harm and substance use. Quality Youth Services offer a Comprehensive DBT program that provides teens and adults with individual DBT therapy and a weekly DBT clinical group for a six month period of time.
Treatment Program Model
While there are numerous evidence-based practices, Quality Youth Services follows the treatment foster care program model, Together Facing the Challenge (TFTC). This curriculum directs the youth’s treatment team on how to handle unwanted and maladaptive behaviors as well as gives the treatment team tools to help the foster youth learn new skills and behaviors to better adapt to being a successful, happy adult. By using an evidence-based treatment model, Quality Youth Services Foster Parents can rest assured the parenting techniques they are taught to implement are proven to be effective and create lasting, positive change in the youth during their stay in foster care and beyond. QYS is here to uplift foster parents every step of the way to increase their confidence and knowledge in the parenting decisions they make.
How to Get Involved
Every facet of Quality Youth Services Treatment Foster Care model is designed to make Foster Parents feel confident in their ability to provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment for all family members including the foster youth.
Quality Youth Services provides short term foster care through our dedicated foster parents in Cache, Box Elder, Weber, Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a foster parent, please complete the foster parent application on our website at this link, https://www.qualityyouthservices.com/foster-care, and our Program Director will call to schedule an interview within two days.
Or if you would like more information before applying, check out our website page dedicated to Foster Parents at this link, https://www.qualityyouthservices.com/proctor-parents.
You may also request more information or get answers to specific questions prior to applying at this link https://www.qualityyouthservices.com/request-more-information
Quality Youth Services Foster Parents play a vital role in the mental health, well-being and future success of the vulnerable youth they serve in their homes. Please join us in being catalysts of positive change in our community by deciding to foster today!