Therapeutic Foster Care FAQ

What is therapeutic foster care?
Therapeutic foster care is foster care provided for children who have certain emotional, behavioral, and/or mental health needs. NFI provides resources to assist the child with his/her therapeutic needs including therapy, case management, medication checks, time with Community Skills Workers, and educational planning. Therapeutic foster parents are not expected to be therapists or counselors, but to provide a stable, structured and loving home for a child. Their role is to advocate for the foster child by making sure the child attends his/her therapy, treatment team meetings and medication checks and to support the child in his/her total therapeutic plan.

Why are the children in foster care?
Most children receiving NFI therapeutic foster care services are unable to live with their families due to abuse, neglect, their own behavior problems or family circumstances. NFI also provides services to some children who live with their biological parents. Children are referred to NFI through the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the Department of Developmental and Mental Health Services (DDMHS), or Health Care & Rehabilitative Services. NFI focuses on keeping children in the community, and whenever possible involved with their own natural connections.

Who can be an NFI foster parent?
You can be a married or committed couple, a domestic partnership, a single parent, or an individual. You must be at least twenty-one years old and a Vermont resident.

Will I be a state-licensed foster parent through NFI?
NFI does not license foster parents. As a State of Vermont, Child Placing Agency, NFI approves foster homes. Foster families will not receive a license. The State of Vermont Foster Family Regulations are the guidelines mandated for our use throughout our approval process.

Can I have an NFI child in my home while I also care for a child from another agency?
Possibly. NFI children are not placed in homes with foster children from other agencies such as DCF, Easter Seals, Casey Family, etc. unless this arrangement has been agreed upon by the agencies involved.

What types of behaviors can I expect to see in a child receiving NFI services?
Each child has his/her own individual behaviors due to mental illness, abuse or neglect they have suffered. They may exhibit some, all, or none of the following symptoms, depending on the child: physical aggression, poor anger management, attention difficulties, hyperactivity, bed wetting, Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder, etc. Each child has a therapeutic plan to address these behavior issues, and foster parents are required to take an active role in following the plan in the home.

Do foster parents receive any training?
Yes. Foster parents attend an orientation, and are expected to attend a total of sixteen hours of training per year. NFI offers several trainings throughout the year that address many topics of interest to foster parents. NFI also encourages foster parents to seek out and attend trainings in their community, for which they receive credit towards required yearly trainings.

How much is the stipend NFI foster parents receive and what does it cover?
Full time NFI foster parents generally receive a stipend of $1950 per month per foster child. The stipend is considered difficulty of care reimbursement and may not be taxable (consult your financial advisor). It covers all expenses involved in caring for a foster child including clothing, food, personal effects, school supplies, allowance, and travel related to the child, etc. Foster parents are not expected to pay for the child’s medical expenses, as children receive Medicaid or private insurance.

In cases when a foster child runs away or is temporarily placed in a residential program, the stipend may be adjusted or discontinued.

Do foster parents get a break?
Yes. Foster parents have the opportunity to receive one weekend of respite each month. Respite homes are NFI-approved homes that are reimbursed per night to provide respite for NFI foster parents. NFI foster parents continue to receive their regular stipend while their foster child is in respite. Respite homes receive approximately the same stipend amount per night as the full time foster home.

In addition to once a month respite, each child spends time with CSW’s (Community Skills Workers) each week. Most children have approximately 6 hours per week of CSW. CSW’s work with children with a goal of providing normative experiences in the community.

What if there is an emergency with the child?
There is a crisis response beeper number that can be accessed twenty-four hours a day. An NFI Case Manager will respond to your call and help you to address your and your foster child’s needs at that time.

How do I apply to become an NFI therapeutic foster parent?

For more information about becoming an NFI Therapeutic Foster parent/respite provider, please call Jodie Clarke (Chittenden and Franklin County) at 1-802-363-7578 or Laura Gustafson (Windham and Windsor County) at 1-802-254-2558.