Frontier health in the ‘critical’ need of foster parents | WJHL

TRI-CITIES, Tenn./Va. (WJHL) – Frontier Health says the dire situation afflicting foster care in our region appears to be that of children sleeping in social services offices while others are moved between homes and cared for night by night.

This stems from the fact that the number of children entering the system far exceeds the number of foster families available to accommodate them.

“They might be sleeping in an office that night or in a hotel room. That’s the tricky thing, ”said Alex Enriquez, foster parent recruiter and trainer for the Frontier Health VALUES program.

“We have to get ahead of the corner instead of catching up, which is what we’re doing,” said Enriquez.

Frontier Health operates two foster care programs, VALUES in Virginia and TRACES in Tennessee.

The great need stems in part from the pandemic, as fewer children have been seen by adults who have been able to report abuse or neglect at home.

“But right now, there is an influx of children entering the system,” Enriquez said.

Noelle Grimes is Frontier Health’s Director of Childhood Services. She sees the need for more adoptive parents every day.

“When children are turned away at this time, there is a shortage, a vast shortage of foster families,” Grimes said.

Frontier Health’s placement programs focus on “therapeutic foster homes” only. This means that children seeking placement have trauma to cope with, developmental or behavioral needs, or require specific support from a foster family.

“We give them extra training and support on how to change behavior,” Grimes said.

“When children come to us it’s because they have an extra need, they’ve been through a trauma where they need extra therapy, counseling services,” said Enriquez.

Both say they don’t want this to intimidate parents. Frontier health programs provide 24/7 support for placements and extensive training on how to respond to the specific needs of the child.

Plus, having that support at a difficult time is transformative for these children.

“They are able to see role models, they are able to see family experience so they can grow and heal their trauma so that those behaviors don’t continue,” said Enriquez. “Every child is just an adult far from success.”

Enriquez added that without those positive influences, many children who are removed from their families have little or no path to success.

“Most kids who age outside the system, I’d say about half, immediately end up homeless. They have nowhere else to go, “said Enriquez.

He added that a common stigma of custody is that many people think they will bond too closely and will not be able to let go.

“You don’t lose them. You touched them, you changed a part of their life, ”said Enriquez. “We’ve had some great teenagers who have gone through our program and to see them be able to succeed and be successful is amazing.”

Frontier Health’s two licensed child fostering agencies, TRACES and VALUES, work with foster parents by providing access to:

  • Reimbursement for childcare
  • Links to other requested services
  • Access to “in-house” services for your children, such as therapy and medication management with a designated therapist and psychiatrist

To find out more or to apply for TRACES (TN) Therapeutic Foster Care, visit their website here.

To find out more or to apply for VALUES (VA) Therapeutic Foster Care, visit their website here.

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