Introducing TST-FC: A Trauma-Focused Curriculum for Caregivers

Posted June 29, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog introducingtstfc 2017

Trau­ma Sys­tems Ther­a­py for Fos­ter Care (TST-FC) is a pow­er­ful new train­ing cur­ricu­lum designed to enhance fos­ter par­ents’ under­stand­ing of how trau­ma affects children’s behavior.

When care­givers are trau­ma informed, chil­dren devel­op deep­er attach­ments and cop­ing skills while expe­ri­enc­ing few­er moves while in fos­ter care. Child wel­fare agen­cies also ben­e­fit from the cur­ricu­lum, gain­ing place­ment sta­bil­i­ty and a clear mech­a­nism for engag­ing fos­ter par­ents, kin and oth­er care­givers as front­line practitioners.

View the TST-FC Curriculum

Until now, trau­ma edu­ca­tion has large­ly been lim­it­ed to pri­vate agen­cies and kids in res­i­den­tial or treat­ment place­ments,” says Tracey Feild, man­ag­ing direc­tor of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Child Wel­fare Strat­e­gy Group. Trau­ma Sys­tems Ther­a­py for Fos­ter Care is for all kids, all care­givers and all types of agen­cies. The cur­ricu­lum helps care­givers, agen­cies and chil­dren build a com­mon lan­guage about emo­tions and behavior.”

The TST-FC cur­ricu­lum is avail­able for free online and can be down­loaded and imple­ment­ed by any agency. It includes detailed facil­i­ta­tor guides, train­ing pre­sen­ta­tions, hand­outs and a fos­ter par­ent resource guide. Dur­ing TST-FC’s four inter­ac­tive group ses­sions, facil­i­ta­tors guide care­givers through role play­ing, hands-on exer­cis­es and reflec­tive con­ver­sa­tions to learn about trau­ma and con­nect what has hap­pened in a child’s life to their behav­ior. Fos­ter par­ents and care­givers learn and prac­tice skills such as de-esca­lat­ing dif­fi­cult behav­ior, help­ing a child regroup after a melt­down and rec­og­niz­ing when a child is being remind­ed of a past trauma.

Learn­ing about trau­ma-informed care helps care­givers work with chil­dren from the inside out and the out­side in by address­ing the needs of chil­dren and sup­port­ing their resilience with­in the child’s home, school, and com­mu­ni­ty,” says Kel­ly McCauley, asso­ciate direc­tor of KVC Insti­tute for Health Sys­tems Inno­va­tion at KVC Health Sys­tems, a non­prof­it that offers child wel­fare and behav­ioral health ser­vices in five states. Care­givers help chil­dren under­stand their respons­es to stress­ful sit­u­a­tions and use more effec­tive strate­gies to gain con­trol when things aren’t going well. They also learn to part­ner with the child’s team to cre­ate more pre­dictable and con­sis­tent envi­ron­ments that sup­port chil­dren affect­ed by trauma.”

TST-FC offers anoth­er crit­i­cal sup­port for care­givers: tools for self-care. Too often, folks who care for kids in fos­ter care for­get to attend to their own per­son­al needs,” says Doreen Chap­man, a Casey senior asso­ciate who assist­ed with the devel­op­ment and test­ing of the cur­ricu­lum. TST-FC reminds care­givers that you need to find ways to build your own reserves and find joy. If you can do that for your­self, you are more like­ly to be able to do that with kids in your home.”

With Casey’s sup­port, TST-FC was devel­oped by McCauley with Dr. Glenn Saxe of the NYU Lan­gone Med­ical Cen­ter. Saxe cre­at­ed the mod­el that inspired TST-FC, Trau­ma Sys­tems Ther­a­py (TST). Address­ing the emo­tion­al respons­es of chil­dren who have expe­ri­enced trau­ma, TST brings togeth­er ser­vice providers — includ­ing teach­ers, spir­i­tu­al lead­ers and local advo­cates — to coor­di­nate evi­dence-based ser­vices and inter­ven­tions in var­i­ous set­tings. A five-year eval­u­a­tion of TST, con­duct­ed by Child Trends, found mea­sur­able improve­ment in the func­tion­ing and place­ment sta­bil­i­ty of 1,500 chil­dren served by KVC.

TST-FC’s ben­e­fi­cia­ries include child wel­fare agen­cies. As an agency pro­fes­sion­al at a pilot site said, The oppor­tu­ni­ty to pro­vide trau­ma-focused inter­ven­tions with fos­ter par­ents and youth placed in care has dra­mat­i­cal­ly changed our prac­tice and re-ener­gized our staff’s com­mit­ment to this work.”

Down­load a Move­ment to Trans­form Fos­ter Parenting

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