"Therapeutic care" is much more than effective behavior management. Children in care certainly may have specific behavior and adjustment problems. Their foster parents need to help them work through those difficulties. If the problems are serious, qualified professionals are usually available to help develop behavior management plans. These plans include specific responses to specific behavior. They also include strategies for dealing with particular adjustment difficulties.
When behavior and adjustment problems are less serious, normal parenting approaches usually work well. The children’s behavior improves and they adjust better. In sections 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4, you learn the most important, normal parenting approaches.
Since you are taking this course, we assume you are committed to more than behavior management for children in care. Like other foster parents, you know behavior and adjustment are important. You likely already have most of the skills you need to help children in these areas. Unlike most foster parents, though, you demand more from yourself. You have to know:
• What happened to the children before they came into care?
• How have the children been affected by the maltreatment they have experienced?
• How do those past life experiences cause the behavior and adjustment problems experienced by children in care?
• How can you help children in care get past those bad times in their lives?
• How can you help children in care succeed, help them find that better future they absolutely deserve?
Leo Tolstoy said, "All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
Buddha said, "A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden."
Therapeutic care goes beyond traditional foster care. Of course, it includes the flower garden, the happy family children coming into care haven’t experienced. Beyond that, though, therapeutic care provides more for children. They are truly understood. This understanding spans where they have been and what they need today to be successful tomorrow. From this understanding flows the emotional and spiritual nurturing they must have to flourish.
Therapeutic care has good, traditional foster care as its foundation. If you are a new foster parent, you may not be ready for this advanced course. It assumes you are comfortable with your foster parent role and are familiar with the needs and special problems of children in care.
If you haven’t yet had training about behavior management, you may not be ready to study therapeutic care. This course assumes you are generally familiar with how to deal with children’s typical behavior and adjustment problems. The most important techniques are included; but this isn’t a course in behavior management.
Therapeutic care takes you into a world of deeper understanding. You learn new concepts and principles. You learn new techniques and strategies. Mostly, though, you are invited to think about abused and neglected children, about what life is like from their perspective, and about how you can do more than keep them safe. The goal of therapeutic care is success for each child in care, today and tomorrow. Behaving themselves and adjusting to life in a foster home aren’t nearly enough.
Therapeutic care for abused and neglected children requires a new level of commitment and dedication. In this course, you struggle with the most difficult questions facing foster care providers today. What’s more, the answers to those questions aren’t in this workbook. Rather, you are invited to join those on the forefront of serving children in care.
This workbook is difficult reading. The activities are only for those who are serious about achieving excellence in foster care. The time you spend will be very challenging. When you have finished the course, you will know more and understand better. Even then, though, you will merely be out there with the rest of us who are continuing to struggle with the questions and trying to find the answers.
If you are up to the challenge, have a productive and thoughtful journey. Enjoy the workbook; but most importantly, enjoy the children. They are very special and so are you.