TFC-Fostering Greatness

Meet Board of Child Care’s Certified Treatment Foster Care (TFC ) Parent, Mr. Santiago.

Like so many before him, Alfredo Santiago says becoming a Treatment Foster Care (TFC) Parent was a natural fit.

“I come from a very large, extended family,” says the native of New Jersey who’s been living and working in Baltimore for 20 years. “So having an extended family made sense to me.”

What makes his experience seem out of the ordinary — extraordinary, really — is that Alfredo is single and decided to become a foster parent for the first time about two years ago. And his first foster child? A sixteen-year-old boy named Marvin.

He saw the sign Alfredo says that, because he’s served for decades as a clinical social worker, primarily focusing on child welfare, he’s used to being around teenagers. So, in some ways, the adjustment to instant fatherhood wasn’t too difficult.

What was more surprising was the way he was inspired to become a foster parent in the first place.  “I saw a billboard sign that said, ‘You don’t have to be a perfect parent to be a parent,’” he says. “It just kind of  confirmed for me that, you know what, I should act on this feeling instead of just thinking about it.”

Not long after that, representatives from the Board of Child Care visited his church and spoke about the need for foster parenting. “And that kind of sealed it,” he says. “That was the trigger, actually having somebody reach out and say, ‘Would you do this?’” So he took the plunge: Within a few weeks, he was certified,  had begun the process to become a TFC parent, and eventually was introduced to Marvin. Recently, the two celebrated a year of family-hood.


You Don’t Have to Be Perfect: Becoming a Treatment Foster Care Parent
Overcoming challenges, of course, the journey has not been without its challenges, Alfredo admits. For one thing, even though both men share Hispanic backgrounds, there were some hurdles to overcome.

“He’s from El Salvador, in Central America, and my family’s from Puerto Rico in the Caribbean,” he says. “So being from different cultures, created a challenge for both of us.”

So much good has come of it, too, Alfredo says.  Just about everyone in that very large, extended family of his has embraced the idea of adding Marvin to the mix. And a few may have taken things a bit too far.  “The last time we got together, my mom came with a
prepared meal, which I thought was for me,” he says with a laugh. 

“And she said, ‘No, it’s for Marvin. It’s his favorite dish, so I made it for him.’ I was like, ‘Wow, I’m sharing Mom with somebody else.’”  –He’s definitely my family– Alfredo adds that becoming a TFC parent has taught him a lot about what it means to be a parent.

For example, it’s very different being single, he says.  “It’s not like a divorced parent, where you can still count on the other parent to support you,” he says. “I don’t have
that. But we do have each other and, together we figure out how to get things done.” Perhaps that’s the biggest lesson, he says.

“Like the billboard says, don’t limit what you believe about a family,” Alfredo states. “I’m a happy person, and I feel like having Marvin in my home has added to that happiness. He’s definitely my family.”

To learn more about the small steps you can take today to become a Board of Child Care Certified Treatment Foster Care Parent click here.