Medically fragile children or those who have suffered severe emotional damage at the hands of their previous families may enter a foster care arrangement classified as Therapeutic Foster Care. In this situation, there may be no plan to reunite the child with the biological family. Foster parents are expected to provide medical support or put every effort into helping the child recover.
In the biological home, the children may have been permitted to harm themselves or other children, abuse animals or adults, become delinquent, or get into serious trouble with the law. Some abuse drugs, while others turn to prostitution. Over the last few decades, more foster parents have undergone specialized training in order to care for these children over the medium to long term.
The safe, therapeutic environment and treatment provided by these adults may serve as a supplement to therapy or professional medical care. Many of these caregivers have extensive experience, often gained through raising their own families. They have in-depth knowledge of dealing with children considered difficult, ill, or troubled.
This type of foster care is deemed a profession by many and is compensated as such. In a two-parent house, both adults may have given up their outside work, making fostering a full-time job. To provide these children with the needed continuity of care, they may be on-call 24 hours a day. Many children entering this arrangement develop a child-parent relationship with these caregivers.
Also called special rate foster care, therapeutic care is a special category of fostering. In most states, there is a limit on the number of children who have therapeutic or treatment needs who can be placed into a home not considered a licensed Group Home. The highly trained and experienced caregivers perform a tough job that is designed to improve the future of a child who has had a very difficult life.