Intensive Treatment for Foster Care Launches in Minnesota

July 05, 2018 10:32 PM

The state is launching a new way of caring for traumatized foster children.

It's geared to help kids with severe mental health needs stay out of facilities and get the care they require from a stable, loving home.


"We're talking about kids who have experienced multiple disruptions in their lives," said Claire Wilson, assistant commissioner of community supports for the Department of Human Services.

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Wilson can't speak on specific cases but shares, right now, there are 109,000 children in the state diagnosed with a serious emotional disturbance.

"We also know that the majority of kids who enter into foster care, of course, are entering because of some sort of traumatic event," she said.

Those are the children Ed Frickson at Family Innovations is trying to reach.

"Everything we do is based on an understanding of trauma," he said. "'What's happened to this child?' Not, 'What's wrong with you?' but, 'What's happened to you?'"

Family Innovations is the first provider in the state to get certified for Intensive Treatment in foster care.

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Three times a week, for six hours a day, therapists go into the homes of foster children ranging in age from infants to 21 years old to help them find stabilization in a safe, comfortable home and stay there.

It's evidence-based, trauma-informed care.

Part of the goal is to limit the number of placements the child is shuffled to while in foster care.

"And to keep them out of more deep-end placements like a residential treatment center or a treatment foster home, many of which are not in the local community where that child has grown up," said Frickson.

This intensive treatment keeps children in their communities, at their schools, with individualized help.

"So that they can maintain relationships and not have those additional blows to their heart," said Frickson.

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The certified therapists also work with foster families and biological families to create a permanent, stable home for the child.

"Youth can and do improve when they get the level of treatment they need," said Wilson.

The program is covered by Medicaid and Family Innovations is right now one of three providers taking on this level of care.

There are 12 therapists doing this work for them right now, each carrying a caseload of three to four children.

They say they have to start small in order to do it right because this care is time-consuming as therapists are working with everyone from families to teachers to other therapists to get everyone on the same page.


Katherine Johnson

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