Tag Archives: foster care

Giving Back: Matthew’s Child

Matthew’s Child opened their doors in 2013 with the goal to help create happy kids and foster healthy relationships in the foster and adoptive community. Husband and wife team, Jesse and Melanie Couch, saw a need for support for foster families in the area. Their first-hand experience as foster parents and their relationship with the community helped them create programs that tailor to specific areas like first night meals, survival kits to meet basic needs, hygiene kits, car seats, clothing, and more.

“There is this false stereotype that the government pays you to be a foster parent and takes care of you. While there is a small monthly stipend, it doesn’t cover the full physical needs of the child,” Melanie says. “It’s definitely something that, when you choose to be a foster parent, you are expected to be able to provide for that child. We’re not talking about just the physical things, we’re talking about meeting their emotional needs and the support needs of the families so they don’t get burned out. [They need to be] able to find the resources they need so they are able to take care of that child. It takes a lot, so these families need a lot of support. Foster care can be on the fringe of society, so sometimes you don’t think about that need being here in your own backyard.”

To help foster families meet their needs, Matthew’s Child partners with psychologists and different local specialists to set up training for foster families and parents. Available trainings include, but are not limited to, ethnic hair care, biological family engagement, and independent living for teens. For those interested in becoming a member of a foster child’s team, they offer a course on working as a team member that includes information on the role of the foster parent, biological family engagement, the role of a caseworker, the role of the community, and the court process.

“It takes a village to raise a child, whether it’s teachers, volunteers, Big Brothers Big Sisters, CASA volunteers, special advocates, down to the Grandin Theatre across the street hiring teenagers who need experience,” Melanie explains. “Not everyone can be a parent, but everyone can offer support.”

With the holidays right around the corner, it is important to remember to help those out who might be experiencing a difficult year. If you can’t foster a child, consider donating gently used clothing and toys, or travel-sized hygiene products for the first night in foster care. Matthew’s Child is also accepting volunteers in any capacity.

If you are interested in helping out with foster care, or if you’d like to learn more about how Matthew’s Child can help your family, visit www.matthewschild.com or call 540-523-1580.

Wellness for the Family

Intercept Youth Services began in 1996 when its founder, Mark Bogert, decided that he wanted to redefine the group home experience. That year, he opened a group home for children with eight beds. Now, twenty years later, the company has grown to provide 14 group homes and 32 services for entire families and individuals across the state. They average around 1,200 clients each week.

“I came here because of the company and our values,” says Natalie Elliott, Senior Director of Program Development. “When you work with a population that is affected by mental illness and children who come into foster care, it is important to be innovative and collaborative. You have to be able to meet the needs of the community.”

There are several parts that make up Intercept’s full continuum of care. This includes Crisis One, a program that allows patients to call Intercept whenever they are in need of brief therapeutic interventions to achieve mental stability. It offers immediate response—24 hours a day, seven days a week. Mobile counselors will travel to children, adolescents, and adults that need help.

“Crisis don’t always happen between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm,” says Natalie. “We are not an 8 to 5 agency. Services have to be worked around families.”

Additionally, Intercept offers LifeBridge Counseling, an outpatient treatment that allows individuals (of all ages) with a variety of insurance providers to get the help they need. Through a partnership with Carilion, they have also opened True North Health Clinic. In this facility, doctors and physician assistants provide medication management for patients. Not only is this beneficial for adults, it helps meet a need for children in our area as well.

“There is a severe shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists,” explains Natalie. “In many cases, they could wait as long as six months to see a doctor. True North gives patients the option of seeing a physician within three weeks.”

Intercept clients go through True North, but once they cease a service with Intercept they can continue to receive medication management without attached services. The ultimate goal is to make psychiatric treatment easier to attain. In an effort to achieve that, Intercept launched a program last month called Open Access. This allows patients to walk in, be assessed for services, and connected with those that can help them based on what they need and how the treatment plan matches with their insurance.

Essentially, what began as a group home has grown to meet the needs of entire families. This goes above and beyond serving children once their lives are in crisis, working to stabilize their environments before things get out of hand.

However, there are around five thousand children in foster care every day in Virginia. Intercept continues to offer many services for these children in addition to group homes throughout the state. Those who live in Intercept’s group homes attend public school and blend right in with their peers—exactly what they are meant to do. The company also works with local departments of social services to place children in foster homes. They take matching children to families very seriously, citing that it is imperative to helping them be successful in youth and as adults.

As these children get older, many of them become eligible for independent living services offered by Intercept. Young adult participants, between the ages of 17-21, live in supervised apartments and practice the skills they need before they go out into the world. After they leave custody, they can return to the program to receive additional services as needed. This reduces the likelihood that they will not have good outcomes once they age out of foster care.

Visit www.interceptyouth.com for more information on the myriad of services that Intercept offers, their involvement in the community, their values, and more!