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Parenting attitudes and moral development of treatment foster parents

Brent Richardson et al

A recent step toward the achievement of greater effectiveness in the delivery of foster care services to an increasingly demanding client population has been the emergence of the treatment foster care concept. Sometimes referred to as "therapeutic foster care" or "specialized foster care," treatment foster care combines the strengths of family foster care with those of residential treatment and transforms the singular role of the foster parent into that of a partnership with clinical and social welfare professionals (Meadowcroft, 1989; Webb, 1988).

Treatment foster parents are professionalized through extensive initial screening and selection processes; intensive, mandatory pre-service and in-service training requirements; payment of salary in addition to regular room and board reimbursement; and ongoing performance monitoring and evaluation (Meadowcroft, 1989). As such, they are expected to function as part of a comprehensive therapeutic team and provide rehabilitative rather than merely custodial services to foster children.

Trained in such areas as child development, emotional disturbance, and therapeutic intervention skills, treatment foster parents are assumed to be better equipped than less intensively trained foster parents to cope with the behavior of children who have suffered abuse, neglect, and rejection in their natural families. Connected to an active professional support system, treatment foster parents design and implement treatment plans and are considered more capable of withstanding an angry and distrustful foster child’s resistance to their efforts to help. It is also anticipated that treatment foster care’s therapeutic and collaborative service milieu will serve to reduce the risk of undetected abuse of children by foster parents through its requirements of regular treatment team meetings and frequent foster home visits.


Meadowcroft, P. (1989). Treating emotionally disturbed children and adolescents in foster homes. Child and Youth Services, 12, 23-44

Webb, D. B. (1988). Specialized foster care as an alternative therapeutic out-of-home placement model. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 17, 34-43

Richardson, B.; Foster, V. A. & McAdams, C. R. (1998). Parenting attitudes and moral development of treatment foster parents: Implications for training and supervision. Child and Youth Care Forum. Vol. 27 No.6. pp 410-411

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