Childhelp Foster Family Agency of East Tennessee
“In my heart I felt hurt…in my mind I felt grown…in my world I felt alone.”
Most children dream of dollhouses, big trucks, roller coasters and birthday parties. But some dream of shelter, safety, family and love. Sadly, this is the case for over 13,500 children a year in the Tennessee State foster care system. Five years ago, the Childhelp Foster Family Agency of East Tennessee (FFA TN) opened its doors to fulfill its role in creating healthy, loving family relationships between the children who deserve them and the families that can provide them by actively recruiting, certifying and training foster families in Eastern Tennessee. FFA TN provides the following services:
- Foster family certification
- Case management
- Free, ongoing foster family training
- Crisis intervention
- Respite services
Peace – The True Name for Home
FFA TN provides case management and trainings for families to maximize each child’s potential to heal and grow. The ultimate goal is to create a place of peace for the child and family — to create a home. With this in mind, FFA TN creates an Individualized Treatment Plan for each foster child’s needs. Treatment plans include individual and family therapy sessions and supervised visits with the child’s biological parents. These visits promote healing from past wounds and encourage discussions about the future. Experiences with the foster families in the home are vital to the child’s recovery.
Help Far Beyond Placement
In the foster care system, children can develop a feeling of being in "just another house," not a home — until they are moved elsewhere. In response, the agency has developed support programs and trainings to promote the unity and quality of TN foster homes. FFA TN conducts home studies to maintain the quality of each foster home and verify that the family/child relationship is healthy. Therapy sessions are offered to cultivate trust and healthy relationships between the families and the foster youth. The agency also promotes successful reunification with biological parents. The FFA TN works with a foster youth and their biological parents through positive parenting trainings and supervised child visitations to allow the foster child to know that they are loved and that their situation is not their fault.
Foster children are children too, and FFA TN works diligently to ensure a childhood … a dream about Disneyland, a dream about college, a dream that could come true.
What does it take to be a foster parent?
- Ability to provide a warm, secure and nurturing home.
- Be part of partnership between the child’s social worker, therapist, teachers and physicians.
- Completion of 30 hours of P.A.T.H training (parents as tender healers)
- Commitment, understanding, patience and the willingness to accept and provide guidance to children with diverse backgrounds and challenges.
- Provide consistent, fair and age appropriate guidance for children.
- Potential foster parents are screened through a series of interviews, background checks, training, and home interviews.
- Be 21 years of age or older
- Be legally married or single
- Be a resident of the State of Tennessee
- Be employed or have a source of viable income
- Have space in your home for a child
- Have a working automobile and auto insurance, as well as home owners or renter’s insurance.
What will the Childhelp Foster Family Agency Provide?
- Free foster parent training so you can earn the hours you need to become certified as a therapeutic foster home.
- Once certified, ongoing training to help you be a successful foster parent
- Case management for each foster child.
- 24-hour on call support services for emergency situations.
- Respite care to give you a break when you need one
- Financial stipend of up to $1050 a month per foster child to cover the cost of bringing a child or teen in need into your home. This covers expenses such as food, housing, clothing, transportation, personal care, recreation and allowance (Funds are not taxable as income.)
What is the next step?
If you have any additional questions or if you would like to apply to become a foster parent call the Childhelp Tennessee Foster Family agency at 865-579-5498.
Being a Foster Care Parent — from Childhelp parents in Knoxville Tennessee
Being a foster parent with Childhelp Tennessee has been a truly rewarding experience.
Our journey began February 1st, 2006. My husband and I had attended all the required PATH (Parents As Tender Healers) training and felt like we were prepared. Bring it on, we said. Believe me nothing can prepare you for the wounded children that come to your home when you get the call asking if you can open your heart. I will never forget the look of fear and uncertainty in the eyes of the two children that walked into our lives that night. They were so used to a life of unspeakable neglect that a simple hug sent waves of fear throughout them.
Little by little our lives began to have routine and the people of Childhelp became our lifeline. What a ride! The two wounded children that we first met in February are now flourishing teenagers who are smothered with kisses and hugs. The past will always be a part of them and us. Our experience has truly made us better people. I sometimes wonder if they saved us or if we saved them. Tony and I thank God daily for the miracles that he has sent our way and the friends we have made at Childhelp. I am often asked would I do it again? Absolutely. We have had the opportunity to truly look in the eyes of God. How many people can say that?
- Community Outreach and Educational Trainings
- Received national accreditation from the Council of Accreditation (COA) in 2009.
- Through a competitive process in 2009, Childhelp has been awarded a contract to serve foster children from the State of Tennessee.
- Located on a scenic, 50-acre farm surrounded by foothills in east Tennessee. The property has a newly completed barn and cabin for respite retreats and foster youth recreation.