Reuniting Foster Children with Families
CV’s STEP (Systemic Therapy Empowerment Program) provides support to foster care youth who are being discharged from residential treatment or therapeutic foster boarding homes and reuniting with their families.
Nationally, the rate of failure of reunifications is 15% in the first year the children are home. Our STEP Program was designed to beat those odds by supporting the family during this difficult transition, helping them build on their strengths and make changes where needed in at home, in school, in the community, and with peers. STEP is flexible, providing individualized treatment to families using treatment techniques such as parenting groups (utilizing the Parenting Journey Curriculum), natural consequences for youth, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy as its therapeutic model. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy consists of family therapy, skills groups (training on the development of effective coping skills), phone coaching, and consultations for aftercare workers to ensure best practices are being applied to each case.
STEP staff are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist in generalizing skill development to effectively handle crises as they arise. They offer flexible scheduling for families and work with families right in their homes. The program provide safety for the family, develops a joint relationship between worker and the family, provides the family with easier access to needed services, and increases the likelihood that the family will maintain treatment and changes in behavior. STEP workers are able to provide intensive services because of small caseloads. Workers make frequent visits, stay as long as required, and come at times most convenient to the family (including weekends and evenings).
Therapeutic contacts emphasize the positive through techniques of validation and non-judgment while at the same time using systemic strengths as levers for change. STEP is a strength-based treatment program and adherence to this principle decreases negativity among family members, builds positive expectations and hope, identifies strengths, and decreases therapist and family frustrations by emphasizing problem-solving
Out of every hundred children who return home to families from foster care, 15 go back into foster care in the first year. In 2016, 97% of youth in CV’s STEP remained at home for at least one year.