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Youth Services : Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC)


MTFC is a relatively non-restrictive, community-based alternative to typical foster care, group or residential treatment, and incarceration for youth who have problems with chronic disruptive behavior. The MTFC model was established in 1983 and initially focused on treating serious juvenile offenders but through the years, the program has been expanded to fit the needs of at-risk youth with a variety of behavioral issues in all of the publicly-funded child service systems. Today, youth come to MTFC via referrals from juvenile justice, foster care and mental health systems. The goal of the MTFC program is to decrease problem behavior and to increase developmentally appropriate normative and pro social behavior in children and adolescents who are in need of out-of-home placement.



MTFC Endorsements


MTFC is a nationally recognized Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development. Additionally, MTFC's high rate of effectiveness has been endorsed by:
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Surgeon General
  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  • SAMHSA: National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse



MTFC Results

  • Youth spend 60% fewer days incarcerated at 12 month follow-up
  • Youth had significantly fewer subsequent arrests
  • Youth ran away from their program 3 times less often
  • Youth had quicker community placement from more restrictive settings
  • Youth spend significantly fewer days in lock-up during a 1 to 2 year follow-up study
  • Significantly fewer youth were ever incarcerated following treatment



MTFC Components

  • MTFC parents - The program places a youth in a family setting with specially trained foster parents for 6 to 9 months. The foster parents are recruited, trained and supported to be part of the treatment team. They provide close supervision and implement a structured, individualized program for each child. MTFC parent are supported by a case manager who coordinates all aspects of the youths treatment program. MTFC parents are paid a monthly salary and a small stipend to cover extra expenses.

  • The Family - The birth family receives therapy and parent training. Families lean to provide consistent discipline to supervise and provide encouragement and to use a modified version of the behavior management system used in the MTFC home. Therapy is provided to prepare parents for their child’s return home and to reduce conflict and increase positive relationships in the family.

  • The Treatment Team - The MTFC treatment team is led by a program supervisor who also provides intensive support and consultation to the foster parents. The treatment team includes a family therapist, an individual therapist, a child skills trainer and a daily telephone contact person.