The Family Teaching Model
The Teaching Family Model is based on a service model that originated at the University of Kansas more than 30 years ago. The original model was an approach for serving troubled and at-risk youth and proved immensely successful; it is now utilized by hundreds of human service agencies all over the world. Over the past 25 years, various professionals have adapted it to meet the unique needs of people with developmental disabilities. The Teaching Family Model is built upon the principles of dignity and respect for the people being served and features individualized daily schedules, positive behavioral supports, a focus on self-determination, community-based, family-style atmospheres, and a well-trained staff of /teachers/ (as opposed to “aides” or “caregivers”) who are encouraged to build lasting, positive relationships with the people they serve.
Individualized Daily Schedules
In accordance with state policy, each person TFS serves has an Individual Support Plan (ISP) that addresses needs, preferences, and most aspects of daily living. Through the support planning process, the Circle of Support Team finds out what a “personally fulfilling” lifestyle is for that individual. The components of that lifestyle are identified, and then become the cornerstones of the programs and services the individual receives.
TFS staff then develop an individualized daily schedule for each person that includes personal care, family-style meals, work or functional activities, health care and therapy, recreation, opportunities for leisure, and more. TFS staff members provide ever-present supervision, teaching skills and appropriate behaviors as natural opportunities arise throughout the day.
It is TFS’ policy to evaluate program quality in a variety of ways and at frequent intervals to reinforce excellence, detect any problems early, shape development of new programs, and enhance the quality of ongoing programs. The Teaching Family Model includes a process of consultation that also provides a means for program evaluation and refinement of teaching techniques. All of TFS’ managers are responsible for continually observing and assessing program settings. Family members and others who are important in the lives of persons served, professionals from other community-based organizations, and visitors of all sorts are also encouraged to provide input on program quality every time they visit a TFS teaching family home or other facility.
Community Living Services
TFS teaching staff members provide services 24 hours a day, seven days a week in Teaching Family Homes. At least one teacher is on duty for every two to three individuals during waking hours. Clinicians that include behavior consultants and health-care specialists provide specialized services and support for the teaching staff. The people served in TFS’ living arrangements come and go – with ever-present supervision – according to their individualized daily schedules.
- Teaching Family Homes: Most of the people served by TFS receive those services in duplex or separate home settings scattered throughout typical neighborhoods in the communities of Murfreesboro and Davidson County, Tennessee. These homes are staffed with teaching family couples who actually live right next door to the two to three people they serve, and the whole group functions as a family unit. The couple supervises a small team of assistant teachers (who live off-site) to cover the times the couple is considered off duty.
- Extended Teaching Family Homes: Another option TFS has begun to offer is Extended Teaching Family Homes. An Extended Teaching Family Home is similar to foster care in many ways. A couple or family, typically formerly employed by TFS as a teaching family couple, purchase a home in the community, then opens it and extends their family life to a person with developmental disabilities on a long-term basis. The couple/family undergoes extensive background screening, ongoing training, and certification. The home and the teaching/care provided are carefully monitored by TFS. In addition, the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) also provides a host of clinical and professional supports (e.g., health care and therapy, behavioral support, day services, etc.).
Having places to go, performing meaningful work, and participating in enjoyable activities are important parts of a fulfilling lifestyle for most people. TFS provides an array of day services to give the people we serve opportunities to fully participate in daily living outside the home setting. TFS day programs encourage community involvement and utilization of existing community resources. One can see the people TFS serves out in the community every day at parks, coffee shops, shopping centers, concerts and other performing arts events, sporting events, and public places of all sorts.
Health Support Services
A complete array of health support services is delivered at locations in the community according to each person’s needs. TFS has a Registered Nurse who works closely with attending physicians to monitor the health status of each person served and provide health care services as prescribed. DIDD contracts with licensed occupational and physical therapists and therapy aides, who provide prescribed therapy at TFS home settings. Consulting dietitians, speech/ language therapists, audiologists, dentists, neurologists, psychiatrists, etc., also provide specialized services.