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Posted: Jan 23, 2004, 21:44

New Prespectives


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Therapeutic Foster Care for Adolescent Girls
Patrick & Theresa Wardle
Naples, Idaho

Patrick & Theresa Wardle provide a therapeutic family style home for adolescent girls between 14 and 18 years of age who have emotional, behavioral, developmental and/or relationship difficulties. Theresa Wardle, a licensed clinical social worker, has specialized primarily in therapeutic, residential school environments, and has experience that “includes individual, family and group therapy.” She also has “extensive training in working with victims of assault. Patrick is a self-employed builder who enjoys the outdoors, raising animals and helping adolescents with experiential, hand-on projects.” Although they are licensed for six girls, they consider four girls to be an optimum size, and often, two or three is a more appropriate number of girls for this transitional setting.

Since the girls live in the Wardles’ home with Patrick’s and Theresa’s young child, they are careful to only accept girls with whom a certain level of trust is possible. Often they will accept a girl into their home who has previously been in a more restrictive program and has demonstrated that she is ready to have more privileges. The Wardles decide what privileges are allowed, on an individual basis. For example, while some of the girls are allowed Internet privileges and have access to driving cars, weather permitting, other girls are not allowed those privileges.

Prior to a girl’s enrollment, Theresa creates a tentative Individualized Plan for each adolescent, in order to specify her educational goals, privileges, and therapeutic goals. She utilizes information from a multi-disciplinary team that is comprised of the child’s parents and any consulting professionals, including therapists, psychiatrists, doctors, educational consultants and teachers. “Each adolescent’s plan is based on her specific needs, level of maturity, progress to date and identified goals.” Each girl has individual therapy sessions with a therapist in the local area, and the residents who are on medications also see a local psychiatrist. Although some girls stay for shorter lengths of time, it is anticipated that most girls will stay between six months and one year.

Theresa has worked with adolescents for eight years and has been doing foster care for two years. Although she will not be the therapist for the residents, she supports their therapeutic work in all her interactions with the residents, and interacts with their individual therapist, in a collaborative way.

The Wardle’s home is on 35 acres in “beautiful North Idaho, with access to various services, community-based experiences and multiple forms of recreation. Recreational opportunities include hiking, downhill and cross country skiing, horseback riding, golf, biking and water sports such as sailing and kayaking.” The girls also participate in cooking and building projects at the Wardle home and in community activities.


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