As of November 2012, the VA hospital in Sheridan, WY, opened a mental health-focused Medical Foster Care Program (MFCP). Outside of Cheyenne, WY, this is one of the first programs of its kind. We spoke with the program coordinator, Margaret La Rocca LCSW, about the new VA initiative.
“Up until this point,” La Rocca explains, “the Medical Foster Care Program offered by the VA focused on putting veterans in need of nursing home type care into foster homes in their communities.” This was primarily a means to allow veterans the option of receiving medical care in a home environment with a caretaker, instead of a nursing home. Not only does this give veterans the opportunity to stay in a home environment, but it is also cost effective. “This program,” La Rocca states, “saves the VA roughly $1 million every 11 days.”
The foster home program directed by Margaret La Rocca, however, focuses specifically on veterans with chronic and persistent mental health issues. Since the program’s initiation in Sheridan last November, three veterans have been placed in homes. While this may seem like a small number out of the gate, La Rocca explains that the process takes time because the VA does extensive evaluations of prospective caretakers and foster families. “All of the potential foster families,” La Rocca states, “undergo a rigorous evaluation.” La Rocca adds, “the goal of all VA foster care programs is to offer a congenial and homelike environment for veterans.”
It also seems that the mental-health aspect of the MFCP will only continue to grow. La Rocca told us that the VA plans offer a foster care program for qualified mental health veterans at every regional hospital.
For more information about Medical Foster Care Program see the VA’s link here.
And, for more about the mental health-focused foster care program, contact your regional VA hospital.