Professional foster care pilot program

September 7, 2022

The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) is excited to announce a new contract for therapeutic foster care and a professional foster care pilot program with Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY).  CDHS has contracted with SAFY for four therapeutic and four professional foster care beds for children and youth. 

The first of its kind in Colorado, the professional foster parent pilot program aims to connect people with a passion for supporting youth – especially teens – with youth who need a therapeutic family environment after being in residential treatment for behavioral and/or emotional health needs. These therapeutic and professional foster care beds will be able to serve children and youth with acute mental and behavioral health needs and/or intellectual and developmental disabilities who are ages five to 18.  Specifically, this contract will  assist in providing care to children and youth in child welfare who have completed treatment objectives and stabilization in a higher level of care and are ready to step down as well as children and youth who are exhibiting behaviors that have not been manageable in the child’s home setting or a traditional foster care setting. 

SAFY will identify the specific population, needs and presenting behaviors each approved therapeutic and professional foster home will serve. CDHS will then determine the children and youth who will be the best fit for each specialized therapeutic and professional foster home.  As part of the contract, CDHS will pay 100% of the cost of care for the time it is determined that the child/youth is in need of a therapeutic or professional foster care placement and has guaranteed a rate for each bed whether or not it is utilized to ensure availability when a specified youth is in need of this level of care.

SAFY will utilize an individualized treatment approach to address the psychiatric, psychological, behavioral, medical, educational, nutritional, vocational, recreational, legal, and cultural needs of the child/youth in the contracted foster homes.  The therapeutic and professional foster parents will receive specialized training to facilitate their ability to meet the needs of the youth placed in their homes.  SAFY will be using some of their existing therapeutic and treatment foster homes and will also be recruiting for experienced foster parents to fill these roles.  

More about professional foster care:

Foster parents who are part of the professional foster parent pilot program will receive compensation, training and support – similar to other professions in the child welfare and development field, such as childcare workers, educators, health aides, and others. Specifically, professional foster parents will receive:

  • An annual base salary, in addition to the foster parent's daily stipend for when a youth is placed in a home.
  • Evidence-based training specific to working with high-needs youth
  • 24/7 on-call crisis support and weekly in-home consultation and support
  • Community of peer foster parents for networking, events, and celebrations

Those who have any questions about these programs or would like more information may contact Irene McGaughey, Foster Care Contracts Administrator, irene.mcgaughey@state.co.us or Shawn Bross, State Residential Program Manager at shawn.bross@state.co.us. 

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