The structure of traditional foster care is one in which caseworkers and therapists are responsible for many children in care, spread out geographically in many different areas. They are frequently responsible for very large cases, which adds to the difficulty of providing needed services to every child assigned to them. One significant difference between the SOS Illinois model of care and traditional foster care is daily access to on-site caseworkers and therapists.
Caseworkers and therapists are on-site at SOS Illinois and exclusively serve its Villages and former children in SOS Illinois’ care. That means that every child living in an SOS Illinois Village has built-in access to a caseworker or therapist whenever it’s needed.
Placement in foster care can be disruptive and traumatizing for children, even if they come from abusive or neglectful situations. Initially, children face enormous adjustments when they come into foster care. Complex barriers are arduous to break through under any circumstances but can be made more challenging if therapists are not readily available. At SOS Illinois on-site caseworkers and therapists can play a crucial role, helping to stabilize confusion, fear, and feelings of abandonment. This can be a significant issue even for those children who have no other emotional, behavioral, or mental needs.
Children who come into foster care have trauma or abuse in their past. Even after they feel comfortable in their new home, they can continue to experience intense and sustained stress growing up from a variety of past situations. For example, lack of bonding as an infant or child can cause emotional and psychological trauma that is very difficult to overcome. Findings from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child show that such prolonged stress biologically alters the structure of the growing brain, affecting physical and emotional well-being. Having on-site access to caseworkers and therapists equips SOS Illinois with the tools to help with these difficult situations and enables us to provide timely crisis intervention when and if it’s needed.
On-site caseworkers and therapists also provide an array of professional clinical services, which include assessments, interventions, consultations, crisis intervention, and psycho-social-educational therapeutic services to children, youth, families, and caregivers served by SOS Children’s Villages Illinois (SOS Illinois). The extensive services they provide enable SOS Illinois to provide a continuum of behavioral and emotional care that would be impossible to ensure in a traditional foster care model.
Our professional caseworkers and therapists use a comprehensive wraparound model that encompasses delivering services for the whole child, which ensures that their social, emotional, behavioral, mental and physical health needs are met.
Teaching children in foster care life skills, which they may have not learned from their biological families, such as coping mechanisms and decision-making, is another area that is greatly helped by having caseworkers and therapists on-site. On-site access to caseworkers and therapists is one of the many innovative components that enable SOS Illinois to ensure stability for the children in its care. Please consider making an online gift so we can continue to provide this vital service. Your gift can change the future of many children currently in Illinois foster care.