Numerous studies have shown that many of today’s foster children have complex and serious behavioral and mental health problems that put them at risk for negative long-term outcomes. The enormous potential of these young people and the tough challenges faced by foster and kinship parents inspired the development of the KEEP model. KEEP is an evidence-based support and skill enhancement education program for foster and kinship parents of children aged 5 to 12 and teens (KEEP SAFE). The program supports foster families by promoting child well-being and preventing placement breakdowns.
KEEP groups typically include seven to ten foster parents who attend 16 weekly 90-minute sessions that focus on practical, research-based parenting techniques. KEEP does not use a “one size fits all” curriculum. While the facilitators draw from an established protocol manual, they tailor each session to the specific needs, circumstances, and priorities of participating parents and their children.
KEEP groups are interactive and participatory and designed to be flexible and fun, synthesizing the real and current experiences of foster and kinship parents with lessons learned from research about effective parenting. Snacks are served and childcare is provided. Child welfare systems can upgrade their services to foster and kinship families by providing evidence-based support and parenting skills offered by the KEEP program.
KEEP, which originated from TFCO—Treatment Foster Care Oregon, a program developed as a family-based alternative for teenagers with chronic delinquency and mental health problems—was first tested in Oregon in a randomized trial funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau. Compared to foster parents who received casework services as usual, parents who participated in KEEP had positive effects including:
- Fewer placement disruptions
- Children had lower levels of behavioral and emotional problems
- Foster parents dropped out of providing foster care less frequently
It was then tested in the San Diego County Child Welfare system with 700 foster parents. The foster children of KEEP participants were reunified more frequently with biological or adoptive parents and were less likely to disrupt from their foster care placements. Following this trial, San Diego Health and Human Services continued to implement KEEP as part of its regular services to foster and kinship parents. In 2007, the National Association of Counties named San Diego County an Achievement Award Winner for its work on KEEP: “…in recognition of an effective and innovative program which contributes to and enhances county government in the United States.” Since then, KEEP has been implemented in Baltimore, Maryland; Yakima, Washington; Sweden; United Kingdom (in 22 sites); New York City (in 5 private foster care agencies in New York City as part of the Child Success NYC foster care reform effort); and in the state of Tennessee.
New York City
Working with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services foster care program Child Success NYC, OSLC Developments, Inc. coordinated and provided training and consultation to five New York City area agencies in KEEP and PTC (Parenting through Change).
ODI provides ongoing implementation support to those five private agencies: The New York Foundling, Coalition for Hispanic Family Services, Good Shepherd Services, Saint Dominic’s Home, and JCCA. These agencies provide services to more than 2,000 children and families.
The National Health Services oversees KEEP in the UK with support from ODI. KEEP has been implemented in the following communities:
Bexley, Blackburn, Bolton, Coventry, Dudley, Kent, Leeds, Suffolk, Oxford, Reading, Sandwell, Somerset, Staffordshire, Trafford, Walsall, Wiltshire, and Wolverhampton.
Working with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services’ In Home Tennessee initiative, ODI coordinates and provides training and consultation in KEEP to many counties across 7 regions in Tennessee: Smoky Mountain, Knox, Northeast, East, Davidson, Mid Cumberland, and South Central.
Working with the National Board of Social Services (Socialstyrelsen), ODI coordinates and provides training and consultation in KEEP to seven municipalities throughout Denmark.
If you would like more information about bringing KEEP to your agency or organization, please contact KEEP@oslc.org.
- KEEP – Keeping Foster and Kin Parents Supported and Trained
- Publications about KEEP’s effectiveness
- KEEP in the UK
Patricia Chamberlain, Ph.D.
Oregon Social Learning Center
Active Research Projects
Primary Research and Clinical Interests
Dr. Chamberlain’s interest in developing interventions for children and families emerged from her early work as a special education teacher. She has conducted several studies on treatment for children, youth, and families in the child welfare, juvenile justice, and mental health systems. She founded the Treatment Foster Care Oregon (formerly Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care/MTFC; www.tfcoregon.com) and KEEP (www.keepfostering.org) intervention models. TFCO is an alternative to group, residential, and institutional placement for youngsters with severe antisocial behavior and mental health problems. KEEP provides enhanced support and training to state foster and kinship parents to prevent placement disruptions, improve reunification rates, and reduce child behavioral and emotional problems. TFCO and KEEP are being widely implemented throughout the United States and in Europe (see www.tfcoregon.com and keepfostering.org). She has been the Principal Investigator on 9 randomized trials examining the efficacy of parent mediated intervention approaches. A current area of focus is on implementation research which examines what it takes to integrate and scale-up evidence-based practices in to real world agencies and systems. Most recently, she led an effort to implement linked evidence-based practices, including KEEP and PMT, in the New York City child welfare system involving over 300 case workers and supervisors serving over 2,000 children and families (CSNYC). Currently, she is leading an effort to implement KEEP and R3 in 10 Tennessee counties as part of In Home Tennessee, their Title IVE waiver program. Other recent work has also focused on the development of intervention models for adolescent girls in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. In addition to working on research aimed at improving outcomes for youth and foster and biological families, she is interested in how to support child public service systems to improve the efficiency of their routine practices. She is currently involved in helping communities in the U.S. and Europe implement and scale up evidence-based interventions. Dr. Chamberlain is a senior fellow at the Society for Prevention Research (SPR), and was inducted into the first cohort SPR Fellows in 2013.
New decision-making model shows KEEP to be effective at increasing permanency and stability for foster children. Read the article. Goldhaber-Fiebert_et_al_2012_APMH