What is IAFT®?

Intensive Alternative Family Treatment (IAFT®) is a specialized, in-home, family-based foster care option. Candidates for this level of care include children/teens who:

  • Exhibit severe emotional or behavioral difficulties
  • Are at risk for hospitalization or institutionalization
  • May have experienced multiple failed placements
  • May or may not have an additional functional development diagnosis

IAFT® supports difficult-to-place children/teens by providing a more intense level of care than therapeutic foster care. IAFT® also serves children/teens as they step down from a more restrictive level of care.

The goal of IAFT® is to ensure long-lasting recovery and successful transition to home or lower level of care by providing clinically focused therapeutic treatment in a licensed foster home.

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    IAFT® Advantage

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    One Child Focus

    IAFT® places only one child/teen per treatment family to ensure individualized care and attention. Treatment parents find this to be a significant motivating factor for their participation in IAFT® because they are able to provide better care for the child/teen and experience an increased level of support from their IAFT® Partner Agency.

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    Enhanced Quality of Care

    IAFT® is highly supervised through daily supervision from an IAFT® Provider Agency. Treatment includes weekly face-to-face meetings for the IAFT® parent(s), staff, and supervisors. IAFT® embraces a Systems of Care philosophy, offering a team approach to care and treatment for the child/teen and their family.

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    Evidence-Based Treatment

    IAFT® is goal-oriented and guided by the Person Centered Plan (PCP) of the child/teen and their family/existing natural supports. We use data to help us determine ongoing treatment needs and to ensure improve continues when the child/teen returns home.

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    Whole Family Support

    IAFT® is a family focused treatment with the goal of long-lasting recovery and successful transition to home or lower level of care. Shared parenting is highly recommended between the parent(s)-family of permanence and the IAFT® treatment team to ensure transference of shared treatment goals and behavioral interventions.

    IAFT® Network

    The IAFT® Network consists of several key partners that work together to bring treatment to children/teens.

    Anyone can make a Referral for a child/teen who qualifies for IAFT®. MCOs review incoming referrals and submit them to the Rapid Resource for Families Database that connects referrals to Partner Agencies. Partner Agencies match children/teens to treatment families and deliver the IAFT® Advantage with support and oversight from Rapid Resource for Families.

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    IAFT® Strategies

    How Does It Work?

    IAFT® includes many evidenced based strategies shared by TFC and additionally offers supports and services that are unique to this specialized treatment option. (Click diagram to enlarge.)

    FAQs

    For Biological / Families of Permanence

    How is IAFT® different from Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC)?

    IAFT® is a more intensive service than TFC. IAFT® treatment parents are required to complete rigorous IAFT® training. This intensive model requires that just one child/teen is placed in the home at a time. IAFT® provides a number of supports for treatment parents, including:

    • Daily contact between agency partner staff and IAFT® treatment parents to encourage and monitor treatment progress
    • Weekly face-to-face supervision between IAFT® treatment parents and agency staff
    • Weekly face-to-face contact between staff and supervisors
    • Weekly engagement with the family of permanence and/or natural supports
    • 24/7 crisis support
    • Respite care for IAFT® treatment parents to support placement stability and prevent burnout).

    What services will my child/teen receive in IAFT treatment?

    IAFT® services begin by working with a team of professionals to develop a plan that meets the needs of your child and your family. While in the IAFT® program, your child will participate in weekly therapy, which may include a combination of individual and/or family therapy. In the treatment home, the IAFT parent(s) will follow the development plan and work daily with your child to achieve behavioral change, improve day-to-day functioning, and equip your child/teen with coping skills and emotional control. As needed, the team will identify and arrange for additional services in addition to IAFT® treatment.   

    Will I be able to visit my child/teen while in IAFT treatment?

    Regular visitation is encouraged, and your involvement is essential to your child/teen’s success. The IAFT® program encourages shared parenting between the parent/family and the IAFT® treatment parents. Regular weekly interaction with family/natural supports by phone or in-person is vital as the child/teen improves behavior and works to rebuild family relationships. If you are unable to travel weekly to therapy, we will work with you to schedule family sessions to reduce travel burdens.  

    What happens if the assigned IAFT® treatment home is not a good fit?

    If you are the legal guardian, you can withdraw your child/teen from services at any time. The agency that is providing the service for your child/teen will work with you to help find another treatment home that will be more appropriate and suitable to the needs of the child. 

    How is the IAFT® service paid for?

    Typically, Medicaid will cover the cost of the service. Please ensure that Medicaid coverage is kept up-to date and inform the agency if anything changes. 

    How long will my child/teen be in an IAFT® home?

    Your child/teen’s progress, along with your involvement, determines how ready the child is to return home. The average stay is 9 months or more depending on the progress of behavior change across all settings (home, treatment home, school and community).  Typically, more involvement by families or other natural supports in the treatment planning and behavior change process, the shorter the duration of stay.

    What occurs after discharge from the IAFT® program?

    At the time of discharge, you will be asked to sign a release of information form that allows one of our case managers to contact you from time-to-time to check on how your child is doing. You may be asked to complete a survey for which you will be financially compensated for your time. This helps us to determine if the program was helpful and what we can do to improve the program. 

    Are the treatment parents trained to address the issues my child/teen has?

    IAFT® treatment parents are licensed foster parents who have completed the training required by the State of North Carolina as well as IAFT®-specific training. IAFT® treatment parents are required to complete ongoing training provided by the licensing agency in order to maintain their license with the state. These trainings target many behavioral issues, mental health diagnoses, medication administration, de-escalation techniques and the importance of being trauma-informed.

    How does RRFF ensure agency partner compliance with IAFT® standards?

    RRFF provides continuous training, quarterly reviews and consultation to our member agency partners. RRFF also provides quarterly reports to MCOs for agencies contracted with the MCO.

    What is the recommended MCO authorization period?

    The recommended authorization is for 6 months with a minimum of 90 days.

    For Treatment Families

    Must I have experience as a general foster parent before I can become an IAFT® or Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) parent?

    Not necessarily. Depending on your experience, training, skills and desire for a challenge, you may be able to be certified as a specialized foster parent from the start.

    Whom do I contact if I am interested in becoming an IAFT® parent?

    Please contact a Partner Agency near you. See list of Partner Agencies in the section below.

    Our Partner Agencies

    Resources

    For Biological/Families of Permanence

    Disability Rights NC https://disabilityrightsnc.org/ Disability Rights North Carolina (DRNC) is the federally designated protection and advocacy agency for the State of North Carolina.

    Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center https://www.ecac-parentcenter.org/Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center (ECAC) is dedicated to empowering families and improving lives, particularly for North Carolina families raising children ages 0 to 26 with disabilities. As a non-profit organization operated by and staffed primarily with parents of children with disabilities, we understand the needs of families as they navigate the special education process.

    Family Focused Treatment Association (FFTA) https://www.ffta.org/ FFTA provides multiple resources to agencies supporting family-based treatment for children and youth, whether that family is a kin family, a foster family, a bio family or an adoptive family.

    SaySo, Inc https://www.saysoinc.org SaySo stands for STRONG ABLE YOUTH SPEAKING OUT and is a statewide association of youth aged 14 to 24 who are or have been in the out-of-home care system based in North Carolina.

    Shift NC (Sexual Health Initiates for Teens) www.shift.nc Shift is dedicated to improving adolescent and young adult sexual health in North Carolina.

    Understood https://www.understood.org/en Understood.org offers a wide variety of resources and support for children and families living with disabilities. Understood strives to offer a positive impact in the lives of people who learn and think differently by offering tools, support, and community. 

    For Treatment Families

    AdoptUSKids https://www.adoptuskids.org/adoption-and-foster-care/how-to-adopt-and-foster/state-information/north-carolina AdoptUSKids is a national project that supports child welfare systems and connects children in foster care with families. 

    Annie E. Casey Foundation https://www.aecf.org/ The Annie E. Casey Foundation is devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children at risk of poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes. This is done through advancing research and solutions to overcome the barriers to success, help communities demonstrate what works and influence decision makers to invest in strategies based on solid evidence.

    Family Focused Treatment Association (FFTA) https://www.ffta.org/ FFTA provides multiple resources to agencies supporting family-based treatment for children and youth, whether that family is a kin family, a foster family, a bio family or an adoptive family.

    Foster Family Alliance of NC (FFA-NC) www.ffa-nc.org Foster Family Alliance is a network of individuals and organizations that care for North Carolina’s foster children. FFA-NC brings together the people who make up the child welfare system as a way to bridge the gap between families and the professionals that support them.

    Shift NC (Sexual Health Initiates for Teens) www.shift.nc Shift is dedicated to improving adolescent and young adult sexual health in North Carolina.

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