Trauma Systems Therapy–Foster Care (TST-FC)

About This Program

Target Population: Resource and birth parents of youth aged birth-21and child welfare casework staff who work with those youth

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 21

Program Overview

TST-FC is a 4-module group-based training for resource parents and birth parents of youth in foster care. It is designed to provide training on definitions and impact of trauma, as well as specific approaches and interventions to parent more effectively, including a focus on parental self-care. TST-FC provides a trauma-informed approach based on the Trauma Systems Therapy (TST) model. Staff within a foster care agency are identified and trained to be TST-FC trainers. TST-FC can be used as a stand-alone model, or in conjunction with full TST implementation.

Program Goals

The goals of Trauma Systems Therapy – Foster Care (TST-FC) are:

  • Increase awareness of trauma-specific concepts for resource parents providing care to foster youth in order to improve quality of care and to decrease placement disruptions
  • Increase awareness of trauma-specific concepts for birth families of youth in foster care, to increase understanding and prepare for reunification
  • Provide specific strategies and interventions to resource parents to improve quality of care and to decrease placement disruptions
  • Provide specific strategies and interventions to birth families of youth in foster care to improve the quality of interactions and prepare for reunification
  • Increase awareness of trauma-specific concepts for casework staff in foster care agencies that have not implemented Trauma Systems Therapy (TST) to improve the quality of support provided to youth and caregivers

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Trauma Systems Therapy–Foster Care (TST-FC).

Essential Components

The essential components of Trauma Systems Therapy – Foster Care (TST-FC) include:

  • Places the focus on the intersection of the traumatized child's emotional functioning and behavioral functioning as well as that child's environment, relationships, and psycho-social supports.
  • Organizational model that helps to embed trauma-informed concepts and practices within the organizational structure and culture of a child welfare agency as part of the implementation of TST-FC into the agency if TST is not already implemented.
  • Manualized, highly interactive group training for caregivers (foster parents, birth parents, and kinship foster parents) of youth in foster care and the child welfare caseworker staff if TST is not already implemented into the agency
  • Designed to be provided in groups, which can range in size from small to large. If a large group, the facilitator will divide into smaller break out subgroups for discussion and activities
  • Composed of 4 modules which can be provided flexibly depending on the needs of the setting (i.e., 4 sessions of 2-hour groups, 2 sessions of 4-hour groups, 1 8-hour group session)
  • Fully manualized, including a facilitator's guide, as well as participant handouts and activities
  • Utilizes language, concepts, and tools from the Trauma Systems Therapy model
  • Can be used either as a stand-alone model for agencies that want to incorporate trauma specific principles and tools, or in conjunction with full TST implementation
  • Helps caregivers understand the importance of their role as part of the treatment team helping a foster child cope with the impact of their traumatic experiences
  • Provides casework and clinical staff in a foster care setting with the concepts, language, and tools they need to effectively understand and meet the trauma specific needs of the youth and caregivers they are supporting as part of the implementation of TST-FC into the agency if TST is not already implemented

Program Delivery

Parent/Caregiver Services

Trauma Systems Therapy–Foster Care (TST-FC) directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Caregivers (foster parent, birth parents, or kinship care providers) of children with internalizing and externalizing behaviors and, exposure to trauma; caregivers may also lack communication, nurturing, and self-care skills.
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: If a caregiver wanted to bring a babysitter, extended family member, etc to the group sessions because they also are caregivers to the children, that would be appropriate.

Recommended Intensity:

Four 2-hour group modules delivered to caregivers (foster/birth families) in a variety of configurations and ongoing intervention provided by child welfare professionals to the caregivers they oversee

Recommended Duration:

The caregivers participate in the entire group curriculum, which is 8 hours in total and can last one day to 4 weeks, but the language, tools, and strategy taught caregivers is used by the caseworkers throughout the child's involvement with child welfare services.

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Birth Family Home
  • Foster / Kinship Care
  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • Public Child Welfare Agency (Dept. of Social Services, etc.)


Trauma Systems Therapy–Foster Care (TST-FC) includes a homework component:

Caregivers are provided with tools and handouts to complete and to use with the youth in their care.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

TST-FC is provided within a foster care/child welfare agency by the child welfare professionals who are already employed by the agency. No additional personnel are required. Rather, existing staff members are trained to provide the group modules, and the ongoing interventions and supports. The group trainings are typically provided in an agency, but can be provided in community spaces as well (a community center, church/synagogue, YMCA, etc.). The TST-FC tools and interventions are provided as an integrated component of the ongoing work. There are PowerPoint slides to be used in the group presentations. Ideally, these would be projected, requiring a computer, a projector, and a screen or blank wall. If this is not possible, the slides can be printed and reviewed as hardcopy materials during the group sessions.

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

TST-FC is designed to be provided by a foster care agency using their existing child welfare personnel. A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required.

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

Training is typically provided onsite. Specific training needs will be discussed and arranged to meet the needs of the agency.

Number of days/hours:

Training will be tailored to meet the needs of the agency, though it typically consists of two days of onsite training. Ongoing technical assistance is also available for any agency that is interested, to be arranged on an individual basis. If interested, please contact the training contact above.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Trauma Systems Therapy–Foster Care (TST-FC).

Additional References

Bartlett, J. D., & Rushovich, B. (2018). Implementation of Trauma Systems Therapy-Foster Care in child welfare. Children and Youth Services Review, 91, 30-38.

Murphy, K., Moore, K., Redd, Z., & Malm, K. (2017). Trauma-informed child welfare systems and children's well-being: A longitudinal evaluation of KVC's bridging the way home initiative. Children and Youth Services Review, 75, 23-34. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.02.008

Contact Information

Adam Brown, PsyD
Agency/Affiliation: Child Study Center at NYU Langone, Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital, Dept. of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Phone: (646) 754-5103

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: May 2018

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: October 2023

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: May 2018