Keys to Success

With her warm voice and infectious laugh, Gloria Cunningham jokes about being one of the first Therapeutic Foster Parents to welcome a fourth child into her home. "I've got a reputation to keep up here," she said. Affectionately called "Ms. Gloria," she joined LSSI's Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) program in Aurora when it launched in 2017. A retired Certified Nursing Assistant, she wanted to channel her experience into helping children with high behavioral or mental health needs.

The TFC program is an evidence-based treatment program where children are matched with a highly trained Therapeutic Foster Parent. The Foster Parents and TFC team deliver intensive, individualized intervention focused on developing pro-social behaviors in the home, school, and community with the goal of moving each child into the carefully chosen and prepared aftercare family within 9 to 12 months of treatment.

Welcoming a crying child with encouraging words and a hug, Cunningham establishes a safe, nurturing, and structured environment. She engages kids using their interests—they can’t resist her welcoming, comforting presence—and sets clear expectations, coaching them with lots of praise.

As children finish the program, she lets them know that she will always be there for them, making good on this promise with calls and check-ins. Foster parents like "Ms. Gloria" are the key to the success of each child, and of LSSI's Therapeutic Foster Care program.

Learn How to Become a Therapeutic Foster Care Parent