Foster care: growing and changing
At Auberle, we believe that children of all ages deserve a home and a family. In the United States, there are more than 400,000 children in foster care on any given day. For the past 30 years, Auberle has been providing high quality foster care services throughout Western PA, and is one of the largest non-kinship foster care providers in Allegheny County.
Auberle has been awarded an expanded foster care contract for fiscal year 2021-2022. With the expansion, Auberle will now be able to certify therapeutic foster care homes for children with intensive needs. Our extensive experience in the field coupled with a strengths-based, trauma informed service philosophy has enabled us to continuously adapt our programming to deliver what works best for children and their families.
We spoke with Sara Ulish, Placement Services and SWAN (Statewide Adoption and
Permanency Network) Manager at Auberle. She works closely with the foster care program at Auberle, and recently spoke as an “Expert Provider” in a panel discussion about foster care along with Adagio Health. Sara told us a little more about foster care at Auberle, as well as the details of the panel she participated in.
Sara speaks passionately about the foster care program at Auberle, and for good reason. Auberle provides support, information, and myriad vital resources to foster parents from start to finish. When you become a foster parent at Auberle, you receive 32 training hours before you begin, and then twice a week foster parent support groups thereafter. There is even a private Facebook group just for Auberle foster parents to talk, ask questions, and share pictures and stories. The support doesn’t stop there, either. Auberle connects foster families and youth with many of the services they need: for younger foster youth, the SNAP (Stop Now and Plan) program helps children who are experiencing behavioral challenges. Behavioral Health provides outpatient therapy, and there are educational supports available as well. As youth get older, there are the 412 Youth Zone, Ward Home, and Learn and Earn to help with housing, employment, social skills, and more.
There are some common misconceptions that arise among potential foster parents that Sara wanted to dispel. Often, people believe that the placement of youth is completely out of their control in terms of age, gender, and needs. In fact, foster parents can specify all of these factors. Additionally, fostering is not a one-size-fits-all commitment. A foster parent can provide respite (short term care), long term care, or pre-adoptive care (those with the intention of adopting). Auberle Case Workers work closely with foster families to ensure families feel comfortable and supported before and during their foster care experience.
Beyond the support, flexibility, and expertise Auberle offers as a leading foster care placement agency, it is also leading the way in innovative approaches to providing resources to foster youth and families. In the panel that Ulish recently participated in for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health alongside Adagio, the team discussed the importance of foster teens learning about sexual health. In partnership with Auberle, Adagio has been offering sexual health workshops for teens within our foster care program for several years. Due to the discontinuity in care that many young people in foster care experience by the time they reach their teen years, they may have received conflicting information about sexual health, or no information at all. Further, it is the unfortunate truth that many youth in foster care have experienced sexual abuse and trauma by the time they reach their teenage years. By engaging in workshops led by neutral professionals, the teens can feel safe to ask questions and discuss sensitive topics. The workshops focus on reframing positive sexual experiences and addressing trauma, while providing important information and resources.
It is clear that Auberle is a leader in its field when it comes to foster care services. For anyone interested in becoming a foster parent, or curious to learn more, we encourage you to visit auberle.org/foster-care, or contact Jeanne Burger, Foster Care Recruiter, at firstname.lastname@example.org.