Youth with Trauma, Mental Illness & Developmental Delays

Typically, youth in our therapeutic foster care program are aged 12 to 18 with either a history of severe trauma or multiple diagnoses of significant mental illness and developmental delays.

In most cases, this means they were placed first in residential care and are now ready to “step down” to the less restrictive setting of a foster home.

These kids can succeed, but they need mentors to guide them as they move forward with their lives. A successful transition to adulthood means they need to...

  • Maintain stable and suitable housing the goal is they will move on to a transitional living program—usually an apartment with another peer.
  • Remain free from legal involvement
  • Participate in an educational/vocational program
  • Develop the life skills necessary to become a responsible citizen

Youth with a history of severe trauma

Because of the significant trauma these kids have experienced, they have developed challenging behaviors which impact their daily functioning and socialization.

  • After a stabilizing period of 6-12 months in a caring environment, the goal is they will move on to a transitional living program—usually to an apartment with another peer.

Foster Care Parent Training & Support

Because of their history of trauma, these children desperately need to develop life skills, improve their coping skills and achieve greater independence.

  • JCFS Chicago prepares foster parents for their critical role in this process through an extensive 6-week training program developed by Duke University.
  • Following training, foster parents work closely with a care team of case managers, clinicians and support staff to assist in stabilizing the child in their care.
  • Weekly contact with each foster family by the program director ensures ongoing communication among all the members of the care team.

Adolescents with mental health and/or developmental disabilities

Children in this category of our foster care program have multiple diagnoses of significant mental illness and/or developmental delays.

  • Mental illness or developmental delays might include autism, severe depression, or attention-deficit and bi-polar disorders.

Like those youth with trauma, these kids have also stepped down from more restrictive residential placements and are in need of a nurturing setting in which to: Remaining free from legal involvement

  • Cultivate life skills and positive relationships
  • Explore educational and vocational training opportunities
  • Actively participate in supportive community experiences

Foster Care Parent Training & Support

Foster parents caring for children with multiple diagnoses will work with a therapeutic behavior analyst and their foster care team to educate and guide each child through the acts of daily living.

  • The JCFS Chicago care team includes a case manager, clinician, supervisor, community liaison and nurse
  • After successfully completing his or her specified treatment plan, each youth will transition into a longer term Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA).

How do foster parents pay for expenses associated with therapeutic foster care?

To offset the cost of food, room and board, clothing and therapeutic recreational activities, qualified foster parents who have successfully completed the training will receive a stipend of $54/day, supplemented by a $100/month activity allowance from the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services.

  • Respite services will also be available to foster parents.
  • Single foster parent must commit to only working in a standard job up to 20 hours a week
  • In a 2-parent foster family, one partner can work up to 40 hours per week
  • Special housing may be available in the Rogers’ Park community For foster parents caring for youth with mental illness and/or developmental delays.

What special qualifications are needed to successfully foster youth?

Above all else, foster care parents in our Healing Homes program should possess the attitude and skills to work with high-risk adolescents with significant emotional and behavioral challenges, including:

  • A high level of patience
  • A sense of humor
  • Resourcefulness in accessing community services
  • Flexibility in managing a child’s potentially erratic and escalated behavior
  • A calm approach to managing crises

These kids can succeed.

You can provide the safety net and strong emotional support system to make sure that they have the opportunity to do just that.

Please contact Keesha Brooks, a representative from our JCFS Chicago Care Team, at 312.673.2782.