TULSA, Okla. — Oklahoma is facing a critical need to fill therapeutic foster care homes.
"It's hard to find people that are willing to step into that role because there's so much that goes with it," says Comfort Keidel, a foster care recruiter with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS).
Keidel explains that children in therapeutic foster care, also known as TFC, require "enhanced patience, structure" and parents who are understanding.
TFC is designed to provide more specialized attention and services to children who have been neglected or abused and display certain behavioral issues. It could be anything from a conduct disorder or aggression to severe PTSD.
The department's goal is to recruit 106 TFC families by June 30. Currently, there are 65 children under the care of OKDHS waiting for a therapeutic foster family, and 20 of them are in the Tulsa area.
"A lot of the children need a lot of understanding, and people have a misconception about what therapeutic foster care is," shares Lisa Self, a foster parent living in Claremore.
She started fostering in 2013 and hasn't stopped.
"There are times that you're thinking what in the world am I doing?... one day you realize this huge change has happened," says Self, although she admits that the journey hasn't always been easy.
Some of the children she has fostered have experienced a difficult past.
"There's times where I have been nauseous to my stomach that somebody could treat this child that I have in my care this way," says Self.
The stability that a home like Self's provides can mean the world to a child. The hardest thing for a foster parent might be letting go once the child is reunited with their family, but the collection of memories is all worth it.
"If you just do one child, you've helped one child stay out of the shelter or not sleep at the DHS office," says Self.
While it may seem overwhelming at first to become a therapeutic foster parent, there are resources available for TFC families to help before and during the process. These include 24/7 crisis response, counseling services and medical insurance.
If you want to learn more, just visit the OKDHS website:
You can also call the Foster Parent Hotline at 1-800-376-9729.
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Severe Weather, School Closings, Daily Headlines and Daily Forecasts.