LSSI Expands Therapeutic Foster Care Program: New Peoria Location to Serve Children with Severe Emotional/Behavioral Needs Throughout Central Illinois

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI), the largest statewide provider of foster care services, is expanding its innovative Therapeutic Foster Care Program to Central Illinois, serving children who live within a one-hour radius of Peoria. Started as a pilot program in 2016 through a selection process by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), LSSI’s Therapeutic Foster Care Program now has five treatment teams in Peoria, Aurora, Chicago, and Rockford.

The evidence-based program is part of a DCFS initiative to place children with histories of severe trauma and emotional/behavioral needs into single-family treatment homes rather than institutional settings or group homes. The initial outcomes from LSSI’s five-year pilot program indicate significant benefits, with 73% of kids successfully achieving their treatment goals. This surpasses the average completion rate of 66% in the research trials of all children enrolled in the Treatment Foster Care of Oregon model across the U.S. and internationally. LSSI uses this model.

Children in Therapeutic Foster Care need more intensive support and services. LSSI’s program is centered on teams of dedicated, innovative, and highly trained clinicians, caseworkers, and specially trained foster parents. These teams work with 10 children per region (one child per foster family), ages 6 to 14, during a nine- to 12-month period using intensive treatment to help them develop the pro-social skills needed to thrive in their family and community. The Peoria team is currently recruiting therapeutic foster care parents.

The LSSI program uses the Treatment Foster Care of Oregon (TFCO) approach, a highly effective, evidence-based treatment model. The TFCO model was developed in the early 80s as an alternative to institutional, residential, and group care placements for adolescents with severe conduct disorders and delinquency. The TFCO technique has been highly effective at reducing problem behavior, increasing school success, strengthening attachment to caregivers, and improving foster parent satisfaction. 

LSSI believes that the early screening and identification of children with severe trauma histories and emotional/behavioral needs, coupled with the Treatment Foster Care of Oregon model, creates the opportunity for children to successfully live in a family rather than a more restrictive level of care.

“With our Therapeutic Foster Care Program, LSSI is intervening earlier, and helping families develop the tools and skills needed for the child in the home,” said Jere Murry, MSW, LSSI’s Executive Director of Children’s Community Services. “We use Treatment Foster Care of Oregon because it is a strong, evidence-based model that focuses on a team approach. We’ve seen great success in our Aurora, Chicago, and Rockford programs. Launching Therapeutic Foster Care in Central Illinois will be a great resource for children in foster care who are facing some of the most severe challenges.”

LSSI’s Therapeutic Foster Care program uses the positive potential of families, both the professional foster families who are the key advocates and the biological or adoptive families who will meet the child’s needs in a positive and permanent home and sustain success over time.

“We are excited to work alongside LSSI to implement Treatment Foster Care Oregon in Central Illinois,” said John Aarons, President of TFC Consultants. “This program creates opportunities so that youth can successfully live in homes, gaining the skills they need to succeed in school, with peers, and in the community. This intensive treatment foster care model works with youth placed in highly trained foster homes, their families, and relatives simultaneously to support new skills and positive changes.”

LSSI’s Therapeutic Foster Care includes behavioral parent training and support for foster parents, family therapy for biological parents and relatives, skills training and supportive therapy for youth, and school-based behavioral interventions and academic support.

To learn more about the program, or how to become a Therapeutic Foster Parent, visit

About Lutheran Social Services of Illinois

Serving Illinois since 1867, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) is a nonprofit social service organization of the three Illinois synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). LSSI is one of the largest statewide social service providers. The organization provides critical programs for Illinois residents, including foster care, mental health services, substance use treatment, affordable senior housing, residential programs for people with developmental disabilities, and that help people and families impacted by incarceration.

LSSI’s Children’s Community Services office in West Peoria last year served 565 children, ages infant to 19, across Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, and Stark Counties in addition to the recruiting and training of foster parents. The office also provides a variety of other services for children and families, including adoption preservation, counseling, and Intact Family services.

About Treatment Foster Care of Oregon (TFCO)

Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) was developed as an alternative to institutional, residential, and group care placements for children and youth with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. Multiple randomized trials confirm a number of positive results. The model is tailored to the unique developmental needs of children across the ages. 

TFCO was developed in 1983 following research trials at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). TFC Consultants, Inc. was founded in 2002 and provides guidance, training, and technical assistance to new and existing TFCO programs and helps service providers, policymakers and community leaders resolve issues related to the implementation of evidence-based practices. TFCO is currently implemented throughout the United States, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

Barb Hailey