Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO)

Program Description

Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) was developed as an alternative to institutional, residential, and group care placements for children and youth with severe emotional and behavioral disorders.  Multiple randomized trials confirm a number of positive results.

The model is tailored to the unique developmental needs of children across the ages.  TFCO for Preschoolers (TFCO-P) serves children aged 3-6, TFCO for middle Childhood (TFCO-C) serves children 7-11, and TFCO for Adolescents (TFCO-A) serves youth from the ages of 12-17.  TFCO was formerly known as Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC).

The Organization

TFCO was developed in 1983 following research trials at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). TFC Consultants, Inc. was founded in 2002 and provides guidance, training, and technical assistance to new and existing TFCO programs and helps service providers, policy makers and community leaders resolve issues related to the implementation of evidence-based practices. TFCO is currently implemented throughout the United States, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

Objectives of TFCO

The two main goals of TFCO are to create opportunities for youth to successfully live in a family setting and to simultaneously help parents (or other long-term family resource) provide effective parenting.

TFCO focuses on five key areas: (1) a consistent, reinforcing environment with mentoring and encouragement; (2) daily structure with clear expectations and specific consequences; (3) a high level of youth supervision; (4) limited access to problem peers along with access to prosocial peers; and (5) an environment that supports daily school attendance and homework completion.


Youth served in TFCO reside in the TFCO treatment home for approximately nine months.  The homes receive initial and ongoing training, daily monitoring, weekly group support, and in-the-moment coaching.  Youth in TFCO receive weekly support to navigate the program, practice of problem-solving and coping skills along with other skills individualized for their particular needs.  Families participate in weekly services, which focus on coaching them through key techniques to regain confidence and effectiveness with their youth.  The TFCO program is available 24/7 to allow for quick and effective responses to situations and behaviors.

Research Conclusions

TFCO has proven to:

  • Prevent or reduce the number of days in institutional or residential settings
  • Prevent the escalation of delinquency, youth violence and pregnancy
  • Increase positive academic engagement
  • Reduce placement disruptions
  • Increase attachment
  • Improve brain stress regulatory systems


The Web sites listed below contain information about TFCO and its evidence base:
Washington Institute of Public Policy
Blueprints Programs
Evidence Based Programs – Social Programs That Work
What does the Research Tell us about Services for Children in Therapeutic/Treatment Foster Care with Behavioral Health Issues? – Report of the SAMHSA, CMS and ACYF Technical Expert Panel, September 27-28, 2012 

TFCO Founders

New photo of Patti 2020

Patricia Chamberlain, Ph.D.

Dr. Patricia Chamberlain developed and founded the TFCO model in 1983. She has conducted eight randomized clinical trials on TFCO with youth and families referred from the juvenile justice, mental health, and child welfare systems. Dr. Chamberlain has authored three books and over 60 journal articles and book chapters on evidence-based treatment approaches, treatment process, outcome research, methodology, foster care, and related topics. She is a senior research scientist at the Oregon Social Learning Center. Dr. Chamberlain is a Fellow in the Academy of Experimental Criminology, a consultant to the Andrus Family Foundation, and a grant reviewer for the National Institute of Mental Health. In 2007 she received the Science to Practice Award from the Society for Prevention Research. She collaborates with researchers and the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center in San Diego, and with other researchers throughout the U.S. and Sweden who are interested in examining methods for strengthening services in the child welfare, mental health, and juvenile justice systems. She currently is the Principal Investigator on three grants, one funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and two by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Philip A. Fisher, Ph.D.

Dr. Fisher came to Eugene, Oregon, in 1989 to attend graduate school in psychology and to work in the TFCO programs. In 1996, he developed the TFCO-P program based on the recognition that the problems seen in older children with severe behavior disorders often have roots in early childhood. Dr. Fisher has been the Principal Investigator on a number of federally funded grants to evaluate the efficacy of TFCO programs. Additionally, he is a member of an NIMH-funded network of researchers examining the effects of early stress on the developing brain, and the extent to which improved environmental conditions can improve neurobiological and behavioral functioning. He has conducted research on prevention in Native American communities. Dr. Fisher is on a number of national advisory groups, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse workgroup of Native American Researchers and Scholars. He serves on a National Institutes of Health review committee to evaluate research proposals focusing on community-level health promotion. He is currently a Professor at the University of Oregon and a senior research scientist at the Oregon Social Learning Center.

Gerard J. Bouwman

Gerry Bouwman has worked with Drs. Chamberlain and Reid since 1980. Mr. Bouwman has a long history of supporting and collaborating with scientists and service providers in the mental health field. Since receiving his degree in International Business, Business Administration, and Sociology in 1972, Mr. Bouwman’s career has been focused on facilitating the work of organizations dedicated to research and intervention with youth and families. He served as the Chief Administrator for Oregon Social Learning Center for 17 years.

Treatment Foster Care Consultants (TFCC)

Founded in 2002, TFC Consultants, Inc. specializes in implementing evidence-based, model-adherent Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) programs.

TFC Consultants, Inc., also provides consultation and technical assistance to existing TFCO programs and helps service providers, policy makers, and community leaders resolve issues related to the implementation of evidence-based practices. Contact us to learn how you can begin implementing the TFCO model.

TFCC Founders

The founders of TFC Consultants, Inc., include the TFCO program founder, Patricia Chamberlain, Ph.D., John Reid, Ph.D., Philip A. Fisher, Ph.D., and Gerard Bouwman.

Leadership Bios

John Aarons, M.S.

President, TFC Consultants, Inc.

John Aarons currently heads Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) as President of Treatment Foster Care Consultants, Inc. (TFCC). Prior to joining TFCC, John worked for over 35 years in the field of juvenile justice as a practitioner and leader.  In 2016, John retired from the position of Assistant Division Manager at Lane County Division of Youth Services, the juvenile justice provider for Lane County, Oregon.  As Assistant Division Manager, John was responsible for the implementation of culturally competent, evidence-based interventions designed to reduce recidivism and encourage pro-social development in youthful offenders across the spectrum of programming.

Along with two colleagues at Lane County Department of Youth Services, John developed and has implemented “Options to Anger” a nationally recognized, evidence-based model aimed at reducing anger and violence.  He has published numerous articles addressing anger reduction and co-authored a book on the field of juvenile justice: Dispatches from Juvenile Hall: How to Fix a Failing System (Penguin Pub. 2009). 

John has worked as an associate with Justice System Partners and other juvenile justice consulting firms, providing training, technical assistance and consulting in the United States, Stavropol, Russia, and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“TFCO was developed as an alternative to institutional, residential, and group care placements for children and youth with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. Contact me anytime to learn more about how our evidence-base model can assist your efforts.”

— John Aarons

John graduated from the University of Oregon with a Master’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, combining corrections and counseling.  He is certified through the University of Cincinnati as a trainer in the delivery of effective practices in community supervision (EPICS), cognitive behavioral interventions, and the correctional program checklist.  He is a charter member of the State of Oregon Juvenile Corrections Training Team, and received training through the National Institute of Corrections and the Board of Public Safety and Standards Training in the State of Oregon. 

John has presented workshops for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, National Center for Juvenile Justice, and has conducted trainings on a variety of topics for professionals in corrections, juvenile justice, education, child welfare, and related fields.

John is an instructor at the University of Oregon, in the Education Department, Substance Abuse Prevention Program, Guest instructor at North Caucasus Federal University, Stavropol, Russia, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, College of the Redwoods, and Lane Community College.

Rena Gold, M.S.W.

Vice President of Implementations, TFC Consultants, Inc.

Rena Gold is the Vice President of Implementations at TFC Consultants, Inc. She provides implementation planning to developing teams, support and feedback to current implementation organizations, supervises the clinical consultation provided to TFCO teams, is a senior TFCO trainer, and a committed member of the team.

Prior to her current position, she worked as a TFCO clinician beginning in 2000 and has years of experience working with children and families in child welfare, mental health, and juvenile justice in Lane County. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Western Kentucky University and her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Louisville. She moved to Oregon in 1995 to pursue her outdoor interests, which include hiking and climbing, and she takes advantage of the beauty in the Pacific Northwest with her young daughter.