by Melissa LaScaleia
The belief and mission of Broadstep Behavioral Health is that all children deserve to live in a safe, nurturing home where they can feel valued and loved. It is an organization that helps serve children and families with a range of services that support those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness, and co-occurring disorders.
Broadstep, formerly known as Willowglen, is a national organization with programs that are individually directed by state. The Broadstep program in South Carolina is unique in that it pairs children with families through therapeutic foster care to achieve their mission.
“We are the first within the entire Broadstep organization to have therapeutic foster care,” says Stella Shellgren, the program’s therapeutic foster care recruiter.
Stella forges connections in the community, making those who may need the program’s assistance aware of its existence, as well as the opportunities for growth and support that it provides. She also helps to match children with a home and family that can care for and nurture them properly.
Broadstep offers professional teams with clinical coordinators who approach each youth’s situation as the unique case that it is, and help to determine what the goals are for the child or teen— whether it’s reunification with the family, adoption, or independent living. They offer therapy and counseling that is individualized based on each youth’s situation and needs.
The therapeutic foster care program, which they began in 2020, is now an integral part of the help Broadstep provides. Within it, Broadstep matches adolescents and teens with dedicated foster parents. And with the help of a team, the therapeutic foster parents provide support to anchor these youth, and help them transition into a healthy, stable way of life.
“This relationship between child and foster parent is the foundation of our program’s success, and what sets us apart,” Stella says. “The therapeutic foster parents are our greatest resource and enable us to help children across the state of South Carolina live rich, meaningful lives in the communities they call home.
“Being a therapeutic foster parent is about more than just opening your home to someone in need—it’s about opening your heart and your life. When you take in and care for a foster child, you’re giving them something money can’t buy— a helping hand, a home, a family, and someone who wants to share a life with them. As a therapeutic foster parent, you show them through your actions that we all matter, and we all deserve to live life to the fullest.”