Frontier Health in “critical” need for foster parents WJHL

TRI-CITIES, Tenn./Va. (WJHL) – Frontier Health says that the difficult situation facing foster care in our region looks like children sleeping in social services, while others move between homes and care for them from night to night.

This is because the number of children entering the system far exceeds the number of foster homes available to receive them.

“They can sleep in an office tonight or in a hotel room. That’s the hard part, “said Alex Enriquez, a foster care specialist and Frontier Health VALUES trainer.

“We need to get ahead of the curve instead of playing catch-up,” Enriquez said.

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

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

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

Noel Grimes is Director of Continuous Child Services at Frontier Health. She sees the need for more foster parents every day.

“When the children are removed right now, there is a shortage, a huge shortage of foster homes,” Grimes said.

Frontier Health accommodation programs focus only on “therapeutic foster homes.” This means that children seeking accommodation have trauma that they have to overcome, developmental or behavioral needs, or need specific support from a foster home.

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

“When the children come to us, it is because they have an additional need, they have gone through a trauma in which they need additional therapies, counseling services,” said Enriquez.

They both say they don’t want this to scare the parents. Frontier Health programs provide 24/7 support for placement and extensive training on how to respond to a child’s specific needs.

Moreover, this support in a difficult time is transformative for these children.

“They can see role models, see the family experience, so they can grow up and heal their traumas so that this behavior doesn’t continue,” Enriquez said. “Every child is just one adult far from successful.”

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

“Most of the children who grow old outside the system, I would say about half, immediately become homeless. “They have nowhere else to go,” Enriquez said.

She added that the common stigma of breeding is that many people think they will become too attached and unable to let go.

“You do not lose them. You touched them, you changed part of their lives, “said Enriquez. “We had some amazing teenagers who went through our program and watching them succeed and succeed is amazing.”

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

  • Reimbursement of childcare costs
  • Links to other services are required
  • Access to “in-house” services for their children, such as therapy and medication management with a specific therapist and psychiatrist

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

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

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