Toni Heineman


L.A. Uses iPads to Touch the Minds of Vulnerable Youth

In an effort to provide youth who are at risk of entering foster care mental health counseling, Los Angeles County is betting on computers and iPads. Last week, the county’s Board of Supervisors approved a $547,500 plan in which the Department of Mental Health (DMH) will contract with the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work to provide tele-mental health services to youth ages 12-to-21.


Be Mindful of Foster Youths’ Struggles with Holidays

For better or worse, holidays highlight the unique dynamics, traditions and culture of a family. For many, getting together to prepare or share a meal is the centerpiece of holiday traditions.



With Mental Health, “Out of County” Should Not Mean “Out of Luck”

When Myron took in Rob and Ken, two young boys from the foster care system, he received every assurance that their medical needs would be covered through Medi-Cal, including mental health services, should those be needed.


Helping Foster Youth Build a Home Within: Q&A with Toni Heineman

Working with foster children in her private psychotherapy practice in the 1980s, Dr. Toni Heineman realized that the profound effects of trauma and loss experienced by foster children were often exacerbated by another loss: that of their therapists.


For Foster Youth, “Back to School” Means Painful Questions

Facebook is filling up with photos of kids heading off to the first day of a new school year. Some proudly sport a new uniform indicating that they have moved from lower to upper school or from middle school to high school.


Pound Foolish and Not Penny Wise

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is counting on foster youth to help solve the state’s financial crisis. By eliminating the three years of transitional care that currently supports foster youth until the age of 21, the state expects to save approximately $5 million annually.


    Trouble from the Start: Trauma During Infancy

    May is both Foster Care Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. This spring, we’ve seen a lot of attention to the mental health needs and well-being of foster youth, whether talking about ways to safely reduce the use of psychotropic medications (as I discussed in a previous post), or about the related need to recruit and support relatives, foster parents, and community members to create an essential network of support and healing so that all foster youth have a chance at a happy, healthy future.


    Tax Day Means Sadly Little for Most Former Foster Youths

    While April 15th is far from a national holiday, it is an occasion that brings together millions of Americans, often for complaining and commiserating rather than celebrating. Indeed, in 2014 the IRS received 136,887,000 tax returns, some eligible for refunds and others accompanied by a payment to make up a shortfall in money owed.


    Too Many Caseworkers Doomed to Struggle

    During the month of March, we are invited to honor social workers, many of whom are caseworkers, the lynchpins of the foster care system. These are the people who have the day-to-day responsibility for ensuring the safety and well-being of children who have come to the attention of the child welfare system.