Carer and child

The Therapeutic Parenting Pathway

We have a new Therapeutic Parenting Pathway in South Gloucestershire to support children and young people looked after whether their plan is to return home or they need an alternative foster family.

The Therapeutic Parenting Pathway offers flexibility and creativity in order to respond quickly to changing needs at key points in a child’s life. For example, transitions; from nursery to primary or to junior or secondary school, entering adolescence, changes in birth family, foster family or to Care Planning.

Team Around the Family

Our Therapeutic Parenting Pathway adopts a Team Around the Family approach for all looked after children and young people and their families.

The Team around the Family will focus on the needs of the child and also will systemically consider the needs of other members of the foster and birth family and significant others.

We recognise that all children and young people who are looked after have suffered some form of trauma and loss, so all our foster carers are offered training and support to care using a therapeutic parenting approach.

The Three Tiers

We have described our Therapeutic Parenting Pathway in three tiers:

Tier 1
All children and young people who are looked after have some level of trauma and loss and deserve parenting that reflects this and supports them to deal with this. Training, support and the right resources for the child are available to all, working in a Team Around the family model

Tier 2
Some children need additional resources and some foster carers and their families need an additional level of support to care for a traumatised child or young person. This can include more regular respite, additional mentoring, therapy and access to specialist support.

Tier 3
As an additional service for our children most damaged by trauma (Adverse Early Years Experiences, ACES) we have developed an Intensive Therapeutic Parenting Fostering package.

A bespoke therapeutic package of support will be designed to meet that particular child’s identified needs and is expected to evolve through regular Team Around the Family meetings.

Tier 3 Intensive Therapeutic Foster Carers

It is acknowledged that, whilst caring for deeply traumatised children can be extremely rewarding, the work is complex and will inevitably impact on the emotional and physical resources of those doing the caring.

Therefore, we also offer an additional payment for foster carers and respite foster carers who look after children where they have been identified as deeply traumatised and in need of intensive therapeutic parenting (Tier 3).

Intensive therapeutic foster parents will receive additional therapeutic training and will be part of the initial matching consideration process in respect of the children who have been identified as being in need of care which exceeds children in the mainstream therapeutic pathway, (Tier 1 and Tier 2).

The bespoke therapeutic package will be monitored by the Team Around the Family in order to identify any areas of fragility and to address them quickly and in the right way for the child and family.

Please see T’s profile for an example of a young person looking for a foster family.

Tier 3 Criteria for Foster Carers

There is no specific criteria which will determine who can become an intensive therapeutic foster parent. This will depend on the attributes of the carer and also on the level of trauma and needs of the child they care for.

The requirements of these carers will not be met by training alone as it is also based on attitude and aptitude.

We are looking for carers who fundamentally encapsulate the Dan Hughes ‘two hand model’ – managing to maintain boundaries while being warm, empathetic and accepting. Our children and young people need them to be individuals who are interested in a young person’s inner world and curious to understand them within the context of their experiences and life story.

The ability to connect with children and young people is important, demonstrating some of the playfulness that Dan Hughes also talks about. His PACE model is based on the capacity to be Playful, Accepting, Curious and Empathic, however challenging the situation and to be able to offer a response to a situation which is not reactive.

We are not looking for ‘perfect’ foster parents and it is very important for carers to be people who are capable of reflection on their behaviours and feelings, to be aware of their own areas of fragility and vulnerability and to be willing to address and seek help with these.

It is crucial that they are able to be open when things have been difficult or are not gone according to plan, to acknowledge to themselves and the child when they have been tired, or anxious, or cross and things have not gone well and their part in that, and feel able to ask for help or guidance. Self-awareness is a very important part of this.

It is equally crucial to be able to stay connected with the child through difficult times and acknowledge small steps and successes.

Expression of Interest

If you are interested in offering to be a foster carer for a child or young person who needs intensive therapeutic foster care, as a carer, respite carer, buddy or as part of a special foster carer hub please use our Fostering Enquiry Form to express your interest and request further information.

Contact details

Contact South Gloucestershire Council's fostering team on
01454 866423