Youth in Therapeutic Foster Care More Likely to Use Alcohol, Illicit Drugs
|August 2, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Behavorial Health, Children and Family, Drug and Alcohol, Juvenile Delinquency, Research, Uncategorized||
Therapeutic foster care (TFC) differs from traditional foster care as it is most often used as an alternative to a child being placed in a medical or juvenile justice system facility due to serious behavioral or physical conditions that require residential care. Rather, they are placed with skilled foster parents trained to care for these intensive-needs youth.
Data from The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicate that youth in therapeutic foster care (also known as treatment foster care) had higher rates of use of alcohol, marijuana and illicit use of prescription drugs in the past 30 days compared to the national average of their peers’ past month substance use. These data are not a surprise considering the correlation between increases in parental drug use and increased foster care numbers. Also, children from homes with substance abuse and addiction often have behavioral problems and a history of high risk activity with some becoming runways until they land in the system through the juvenile detention or child welfare pipeline.
While foster youth being at higher risk of addiction is not a new trend, it is troubling because youth who have moderate to lengthy histories in foster care are more likely to have histories of neglect, sexual or physical abuse, alcohol and drug use and a pattern of risky behaviors. Often, kids in therapeutic foster care have already seen multiple placements, and may be facing their last chance of avoiding a residential unit at a detention facility. TFC programs – whether run by county government or contracted to nonprofit or for-profit providers -should have extensive substance abuse prevention and intervention components tailored to this high risk population, from screenings for the kids to support and training for the foster parents.