Intersection of Foster Care and Mental Health

Last updated: March 22, 2023, at 4:57 a.m. PT

Originally published: April 16, 2018, at 8:50 a.m. PT

The Y was among the first agencies in Washington State to integrate mental health services with foster care. Over 30 years ago, the driving force behind our innovative model was to reduce barriers for foster families to get the services they needed without having to go from agency to agency. This people-centered approach remains core to our program today, where youth who are eligible have access to a therapist, a behavior specialist, and a psychiatrist in addition to their assigned case manager.

As explained by Jill, a YMCA therapeutic foster parent: "This program is rich with caring, supportive professional staff, families and volunteers. The children we care for have endured and thrived through tremendous trauma and challenges. The perseverance of the YMCA staff and foster parents to support them through life milestones and ensure their safety and well-being is impressive."

We also know that providing time and space between foster parents and foster children leads to healthier relationships, so we provide easy and ample access to respite care. Taking a few hours, days or even weeks of respite gives foster parents an opportunity to rest and recuperate, as well as to ensure they are staying healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

Foster parent Eileen said: “One thing that has been most beneficial is the access to respite care and behavioral specialists. I had a child who was very close to becoming a “disrupted placement” but the YMCA was able to come together as a team and put in the necessary supports to help this child remain in my care.”

As a seasoned child placing agency, the Y knows that supporting the wellbeing of foster parents is crucial to the success of a foster child. We provide individualized support based on the unique needs of the family to ensure that the child is safe, successful, and happy.

Category: Social Services