LSC leads in providing specialized foster care

As social services agencies face caregiv­ing challenges that were largely unknown or unrecognized several decades ago, LSC is responding by creating compassionate and innovative foster care programs to serve populations that face special chal­lenges.

Victims of human trafficking

Already well-established in North Car­olina, LSC’s Intensive Alternative Family Treatment (IAFT) program provides spe­cialized training and support to treatment parents who care for children and youth who have significant emotional and/or behavior challenges. That IAFT model is now being adapted to serve children who have been victims of human traffick­ing. In July of 2017, LSC entered into a groundbreaking partnership with Present Age Ministries, a nonprofit in Cabarrus County that was already serving victims of trafficking, to begin providing foster care services to these children.

LSC believes this program will be unique not only in the Carolinas but nationally as well. This partnership will provide LSC with support and assistance in recruiting foster families that specialize in working with trafficking victims. LSC will then offer IAFT services to these chil­dren who need help handling the trauma they have endured.

LGBTQ Youth

In addition, LSC has established a new foster care program specifically for at-risk LGBTQyouth in the Charlotte area. This program has been supported, in part, from a grant from the Lutheran Services for Children Endowment at the ELCA Foundation.

To deliver these services, LSC has part­nered with a consultant from a Charlotte agency, Trey Greene, with 25 years of experience supporting and advocating for this population. Greene, a clinician and educator at Time Out Youth, has provided training in best practices for working with and providing safe spaces for LGBTQ youth. Greene is also co-founder and chief executive officer of Transcend Charlotte, a non-profit organization that serves trans­gender individuals.

Highly trained staff and foster families willing and equipped to practice sensitive inclusive and nondiscriminatory care will ensure that LGBTQyouth and children receive the appropriate support and services they need to help them flourish. LSC plans to take what it learns in this program and eventually expand these services to its other regional foster care programs throughout North and South Carolina.

Unaccompanied Minors

In another new program, started in August of2017 in Columbia, S.C., LSC began providing short-term transitional foster care for unaccompanied children who come largely from Central America. This program recruits and licenses bilin­gual families to provide short-term care and case management services for children who lack immigration status. Transitional foster care provides a safe and stable en­vironment as children await immigration hearings and work toward reunification with family members.

“Caring for children in out-of-home care is an ever-changing landscape,” says Myra Griffie, chief operating officer for LSC child and family services. “Until recently, recognizing specialized needs due to unique trauma histories has been large­ly ignored in many foster care settings. LSC has been able to leverage our exper­tise with partnerships and evidence-based practices for children to build program­ming that fills a gap in services.”

Ultimately, LSC’s specialized foster care programs are committed to recognizing the extraordinary and often heartbreaking situations faced by some children and youth. With targeted recruitment and education for foster families, LSC’s goal is to provide better outcomes for youth by offering more informed, compassionate, and inclusive care.

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