Family Recruitment and Retention
Twenty years ago, I entered the foster care system and stayed in a group home for ten years because my parents, who were heroin addicts, were unable to care for me. I felt institutionalized, alone, and longed for my own family.
The following questions were generated during a youth and young adult panel discussion and developed as a tool for workers to ask prospective parents and share with waiting teens.
We have to stop accepting that teenagers in particular are not worthy of permanency. We have to continue to recruit only unconditionally committed permanent families for every teen in our care who will be discharged to no one.
Informational & Practice Publications, Resources, & Tools from Collaborating Organizations
Across the country, child welfare systems suffer from a lack of suitable resource families due to inappropriate recruiting and inadequate support. Resource families play a critical support role in any child welfare system, although many agencies fail to give them the respect, support and attention they deserve.
A child can live in a foster home for years and never touch the issues deep down inside, as long as that child can hold on to the belief that some day he or she is going back to their birth family.
NYS regulations require that agencies have a comprehensive recruitment strategy/plan for establishing a pool of waiting foster and adoptive parents that reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of the children in foster care.
Prospective parents choose to foster because
they find pleasure in parenting and they want to improve a child’s life. Appropriate training will help retain foster parents and enable them to do a better job for the children in their care.
Most people who want to foster or adopt children don’t begin with the skills essential to care for children who have been neglected and physically and sexually abused. These skills must be developed. And foster and adoptive parents aren’t clients who receive services but rather, resource families who need and deserve a comprehensive array of system supports.
This tool is about recruitment, training, and support of foster families. But it can also
be applied to kinship and adoptive families, for preparation for one kind of family can and should include planning for the others. This is called combined recruitment.
What Foster Parents Want Their Agencies to Know: “A startling statistic: Almost half of foster parents quit within a year of their first placement. Twenty to 25 percent of foster parents quit each year and another quarter express uncertainty about continuing.” — Casey Foster Family Assessment Training Workbook
Why should we treat foster, adoptive, and kinship families like gold? Because without them, life is harder for the families and children we serve, for individual workers, and for our agencies. Without them, we have a much more difficult time keeping siblings together and placing children in their communities. In truth, good foster, adoptive, and kinship families are worth more than gold—they’re priceless.