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Intensive Foster Care at The Home
The Intensive Foster Care (IFC) Program at The Home for Little Wanderers is committed to providing safe and nurturing foster homes for children currently in the care of the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families (DCF). Our team licenses new foster homes, provides clinical case management services, and offers ongoing training and support to our foster parent network. We offer individuals and families of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender identities, socio-economic backgrounds and religions the opportunity to get involved as foster parents.
As an intensive foster care program, we serve children who require a higher level of care than what is offered in standard departmental level foster homes. This also allows us to provide a higher level of clinical support to the families affiliated with our program. We believe no child should grow up in foster care. And so, our goal is to help all the children in our program achieve permanency either through reunification, adoption, guardianship or independent living.
Our Foster Parents
The Home is always looking for new individuals and families to partner with in order to provide safe homes for children in need. We welcome individuals and families from all backgrounds and walks-of-life to explore with us if fostering is right for them. As you consider the opportunity of becoming a foster parent, here are some questions to help guide your thinking:
Do you reside in the Greater Boston area (up to 45 minutes from our IFC office)?
Do you currently have space in your home for the placement of a child?
Do you have fewer than 4 children under the age of 18 in your home?
Do you have dependable transportation and a reliable support system?
Do you believe in trauma-informed care and are you open to learning more about it?
Are you comfortable caring for a child of any background?
Are you able to commit to a child for as long as they need you?
Please also note, all foster parents are subject to ongoing background checks and must demonstrate an ability to maintain a clean and safe home with adequate space for a child. All foster parents must also meet ongoing licensing standards set by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and DCF.
Information sessions are a quick and easy way to learn more about our program and get your questions answered. We typically host information sessions a few times a year at our office, in the community and online. For our upcoming Information Sessions check out our MAPP Training page.
MAPP is the Massachusetts Approach to Partnerships in Parenting Training. This is a free 30-hour course required by DCF. To learn more, check out our MAPP Training page.
Family Resource Support
Every Foster Parent in our program has an individual worker dedicated to helping them navigate the experience of fostering.
Family Resource Workers meet at least monthly with the foster family in their home to discuss challenges, answer questions, provide support and complete annual license reviews.
Finding the right child for your foster home is no small task. That is why we have an Operations Manager dedicated to supporting you during this important process. Our Operations Manager helps you assess whether a referral is a good match for your home and partners with you through the entire placement process.
Clinical Case Management
All youth in our foster care program have an assigned Clinical Case Manager (CCM) to help coordinate their education, health, visitation and other services. CCMs meet weekly with the youth and work in close partnership with the foster families to ensure successful outcomes.
Flexible Training Options
In order to stay as up to date as possible, all our foster parents are required to complete 21 hours of training a year. To support this, we offer regular training programs for our foster parents to learn and network together. We also encourage our foster parents to seek out other educational and training opportunities and to share their knowledge with our program.
Our Foster Home Models
Our IFC program is comprised of three different foster home models: IFC One, Transition to Adulthood (TTA), and Shelter. Part of becoming a foster parent is deciding which foster home model is best for you.
IFC One is our most common foster home model. In this model, a child may be in your foster home for just a short time or they might remain for beyond a year depending on the needs of their case. This model serves children from birth to age 22.
Children in IFC One foster homes are incorporated into all aspects of your household and family life. As a foster parent, you will provide the child with a safe and loving home that helps promote all aspects of their social and emotional development. You will work in partnership with HFLW, DCF, the child’s family of origin, and other providers to ensure the child’s needs are met, including achieving permanency.
Included within the IFC One model are placements through the Ascentria Care Alliance. Youth placed through this program are unaccompanied refugee/migrant minors. In addition to providing these youth with a safe home, your role as a foster parent is also to help them adapt to life in the United States of America, develop English language skills and gain the necessary skills to live independently in their new country.
Transition to Adulthood (TTA)
The TTA foster home model was developed in response to the alarming number of youth who age out of foster care without the necessary skills to successfully transition into adulthood. As such, this model specifically serves teens and young adults starting at the age of 16 up until they age out at 22. Placement lengths can vary from a few months to beyond a year depending on the age of the youth and their needs.
As a TTA foster parent you will provide a supportive environment so the teen can gain important life skills. This might mean teaching them how to search for an apartment, better manage their emotions, or develop a vision for their future. Whatever the skills, the goal is to support the teen in preparing for their next step in life. In doing so, the hope is also that TTA foster parents will forge a lifelong connection with the teen, that continues even after they transition out of the foster home.
There is a chronic shortage of Shelter Foster Homes. This model serves children of all ages (0-22) who have just been removed from their current home, are in crisis, or are new to DCF. Placements in shelter homes are intended to be short term (45 days maximum). This time serves as an assessment period to determine a long-term plan for the child based on clinical observations and recommendations. Because of the emergency nature of this model, referral and placement of a child usually happens all in the same day.
Shelter foster parents play an important role by providing emergency care to children immediately following a traumatic transition. A loving and stable home environment is crucial during this period in order to help the child regain a sense of safety. Shelter foster parents are also asked to provide observations and assessments to help determine what long-term level of care is needed. Because of the high level of care required and coordination of services needed to support these children, this model requires at least one stay-at-home parent be available at all times.