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New Specialized Foster Care Program Gaining Momentum

Family & Children’s Agency is one of six Connecticut Social Service organizations that has been awarded a grant from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to begin a new component of its Specialized Foster Care program specifically for children who are experiencing extreme behavioral or emotional problems. The new program component, Family and Community Ties, provides alternatives to, and transitions from, residential placement facilities for foster children. Since its inception last summer, the program has placed four children in foster homes and is actively seeking new foster families to accommodate the many foster children in need.

“DCF is trying to transition children from residential treatment facilities by offering a similar environment in the home with a great deal of support,” said Karen Clark, Home Finding Specialist with Specialized Foster Care Program at the Agency. “We are in need of new families to provide a good home for these children. Many of the children have experienced trauma, but they are good children and all children deserve a good home.”

Through high-quality intensive clinical services, the program provides support and structure to youth with complex needs, to their foster families, and to their biological families.  A unique aspect of the program is that foster parents serve as full members of the treatment team and the program combines a “wrap-around” approach to service delivery with professional parenting. Foster families who work with the Family and Community Ties Program must have two adults living in the home, and one adult must either work limited hours or have a flexible work schedule.  In addition, families must not have other children living in the home and the adults must have experience with fostering children or have experience with children with behavioral disorders.

Other components of Specialized Foster Care, which also encompasses Therapeutic and Medically Complex Foster Care, are growing, as well. Children in the Therapeutic Foster Care program may be between the ages of 6-18 and experiencing behavioral or emotional problems, such as depression, special education needs, underdeveloped social skills, or anxiety disorders. Medically Complex Foster Care is for newborn children through 18 years of age. Many of the children in Medically Complex Foster Care have medically complex needs, including complications from premature birth, cardiac problems, asthma, burns, or physical injuries from abuse.

Foster parents in the Specialized Foster Care program with Family & Children’s Agency receive extensive training and ongoing support, access to special services for children, including recreation and respite care, networking and support opportunities through other foster families, and a monthly stipend.

“Healing can only start in the home,” said Debbie Tadduni, Director of Specialized Foster Care. “These children need structure, stability, security, and an opportunity to succeed.”

To learn more about Family and Community Ties, Therapeutic, or Medically Complex Specialized Foster Care programs, contact Debbie Tadduni, Director, Specialized Foster Care, at (203) 523-5322 or email dtadduni@fcagency.org. Families interesting in fostering children may also reach out to Karen Clark, Home Finding Specialist, at (203) 523-5329 or email kclark@fcagency.org.