In 1987, Bruce Maag leveraged his extensive experience as a licensed mental health professional and youth advocate toward the establishment of the National Institute of Alternative Care Professionals (NIFACP). Functioning on local, statewide, and national levels, NIFACP facilitates the development of seminars and conferences to promote the activities of counseling and human services professionals working in the foster care field. In his capacity as NIFACP’s Executive Director, Bruce Maag collaborated with organizations such as the Foster Family-Based Treatment Association (FFTA), the Ohio Coalition of Foster Care Networks, NOVA University, Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY), and numerous other groups. Additionally, Bruce Maag and the National Institute of Alternative Care Professionals created a national certification program for counselors, administrators, and other individuals involved in the Treatment Foster Care (TFC) field. Prior to founding the National Institute of Alternative Care Professionals, Bruce Maag served as the Regional Director of the Ohio Youth Advocate Program, a non-profit, private company specializing in the treatment and placement of youth and adolescents. The Ohio Youth Advocate Program focused its energy on caring for foster children with unique needs who often experience difficulty integrating into a new home. As the largest foster care program for difficult-to-place youths in the state, the Ohio Youth Advocate Program oversaw direct services such as independent living and short-term, non-secure placement facilities for youths who had been neglected or abused and individuals with delinquency issues and developmental disabilities. Moreover, the Ohio Youth Advocate Program supported child advocacy efforts through involvement with TFC legislation, also participating in relevant litigation processes. Today, Bruce Maag champions the causes of youth services professionals and foster families as a member of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the American Youth Work Center, the American Correctional Association, and the American Personnel and Guidance Association, among other organizations.
Foster parents are everyday citizens with the resources and willingness to support and positively impact a child’s life. They become role models and truly change the course of the child’s future. Anyone over the age of 21 who possesses good physical and mental health, plus an adequate income, is eligible to become a foster parent. A foster parent’s role is to encourage healthy relationships between children and their caregivers, preparing those young individuals in need of an eventual reunion with their families or a permanent home through adoption. Foster parents are able to adopt the children they care for, and many organizations such as SAFY of America have Foster-To-Adopt programs specially designed for foster parents who intend to adopt a child. Children are matched with the strengths, abilities, and desires of potential foster parents, ensuring that adults never become responsible for children whom they are not prepared to nurture. Children in need of foster care come from a variety of backgrounds and represent the full spectrum of ages, ethnicities, and origins. Many children who require help have experienced trauma or abuse, often related to drugs, violence, or other forms of emotional abuse and neglect. They need a loving environment that will be patient with their behavioral and emotional issues, restoring the child’s faith and trust in adults. Foster homes are generally a temporary solution, lasting from a few days to years, often with the hope of finding a family willing to adopt. A monthly stipend helps cover the cost of foster care. In addition, all expenses are reimbursed including clothing and food. Children fostered through programs like SAFY possess medical and dental coverage. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, contact a foster program near you to receive further information. Generally, potential foster parents attend an informal meeting where they complete a foster application. Afterwards, foster parents attend training sessions and interact with program staff to ensure that the child goes to a good home.
Having been involved in the foster care field for over 30 years, I have a heightened sense of what it means to provide help to others. As such, I have maintained involvement in a broad range of charitable organizations. You can find out more about my charitable interests below. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency (www.nccd-crc.org)–More than 100 years old, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) is an organization dedicated to keeping children out of the criminal justice system. Since its founding in 1907, NCCD has seen significant growth in programs such as the Center for Girls and Young Women and the Children’s Research Center. American Correctional Association (www.aca.org)–Founded in 1870, the American Correctional Association (ACA) plays a major role in setting the standards for the correctional field. Boasting more than 20,000 members, the ACA offers assistance with professional development, certification, networking, and more. The American Youth Work Center (www.aywc.org)–The American Youth Work Center (AYWC) is a non-governmental group committed to providing assistance to youth service organizations. The AYWC works on a worldwide basis to support community-based youth service agencies.
Bruce C. Maag has been blessed in a way that many of us still dream about: he has been able to have a career doing what he truly loves—helping those in need. Maag has spent over 30 years helping children in foster care, contributing his energy and time to working for various organizations dedicated to helping children, many of which were organizations he started himself.
Bruce Maag began working with the Ohio Youth Advocate Program in 1978 as their COO. This was one of the first TFC programs in America. In 1984, he established Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY) and was its CEO for 16 years until 1999. In December of 1999, Mr. Maag chose to resign to be with his wife who was fighting Leukemia. When Mr. Maag’s wife passed away, he realized he needed to move on and continue doing the work to which he had devoted his life. In July of 2000, he formed the International Phoenix Group and Phoenix Homes. IPG has now grown to employ more than 100 staff members and serves over 350 youths.
Mr. Maag has always found it important to help those who are less fortunate than he, and his inspiration for IPG formulated when he realized how many children are unable to be helped because they are considered more difficult than others, which is why International Phoenix Group focuses on the severely emotionally disturbed and under-served youth in North America. Since 2000, Bruce Maag has been working towards building and strengthening the structure of his much needed organization. Today, IPG has offices in three states and serves youth on a daily basis. In 1994, Bruce was honored with the Virginia Colson award from the Ohio Association for Child Caring Agencies for his outstanding services to children, youth, and families in Ohio.