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Lutheran Social Services of Illinois is bringing therapeutic foster care to Peoria


Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 6:44 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 NEWS) - One foster care service in Central Illinois is bringing a new and unique program to Peoria.

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) is introducing a therapeutic foster care program - an evidence based model designed to help kids ages eight to fourteen with a history of severe trauma, emotional and behavioral needs.

LSSI Peoria’s Program Director Nina Bush said instead of being placed in traditional foster homes, they’re placed into a single family therapeutic home for between six to twelve months.

“We have a lot of children in residential facilities that really need to step down,” Bush said.

“They need that home environment, they need that support of a family,” she added.

The program uses the Treatment Foster Care of Oregon (TFCO) approach to reduce problem behaviors and increasing success in school and other areas.

Bush also said the program already exists in other cities in Illinois, including Chicago, Aurora and Rockford.

She says over 70% of kids are successfully achieving their treatment goals, surpassing the average rate of 66%.

Marnie Jamison has been a therapeutic foster parent for four years in Lisle, Illinois and has taken care of four different kids, but isn’t doing it alone.

She’s paired with a therapist, a life skills coach, a disciplinarian, and two case workers that’s on call 24/7 for negative behaviors.

The teams work with 10 children per region (one child per foster family) to provide more one-on-one support for the kids.

Jamison says in her role, she has is to be a ‘cheerleader’ for the child and reward her for positive behaviors every day.

“She’ll get anything from bath bombs to lip gloss, just simple things that’s just something to say ‘Hey, you did good today,’” Jamison said.

Jamison says while parents face challenges like emotional outbursts and throwing things, she says after a while in the homes, she sees promising results.

“She’s come a long way,” Jamison said.

“I only had her five months. Her stealing has cut down almost 80%,” Jamison added.

Kids are accepted on a referral basis, and Bush said the first child in Peoria’s program will start in June.

Anyone who wants to be a therapeutic foster parent can go to LSSI’s website.

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