A shift is happening in the worlds of foster care and adoption. Rather than focusing on retaining resource families, agencies and organizations are instead looking for ways to support and develop their resource families. Agencies are alre
ady supporting and developing their resource families in many ways. They often host appreciation banquets, are hosting training opportunities and developing training plans, and inviting resource families to help recruit and mentor new resource families. These are all great ways to bring resource families and staff together for the benefit of the children in out-of-home care.
Other ways agencies can look at supporting and developing resource families, is integrating an agency-wide customer-friendly service model that can improve the agency's response to resource families, help to improve communication, and foster good relationships between the agency and their resource families. The National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment has more ideas on how to support and develop resource families and ways to implement a customer-friendly service model here:
NRCDR: Develop and Support Families.
Another tool available to use to help improve relationships between agencies and resource families are Stay Interviews. Stay Interviews are intended to help workers and agencies get to know what motivates their families who are providing care for children. They help to communicate that they are an appreciated and respected resource of the agency. Stay interviews are recommended to be done face-to-face, versus being done over the phone or mailed. This is to encourage open and honest communication between the worker and the family. See below for an example of a Stay Interview, including some suggestions on how to use this tool.
Stay Interviews with Foster Parents
- Discover what foster families value and what motivates each person to continue fostering
- Help develop individualized strategies to increase satisfaction and motivation
- Convey that the agency cares and that each foster family is valued and important
What the interviewer needs:
- Desire to establish trust with the family
- Willingness to listen and thank foster parents for their input
- Willingness to respond with empathy
When Stay Interviews can be done:
- At the time of re-licensing
- When concerns or issues arise
Source: Jordan Institute for Families. (2008). Staying Power! A Supervisor's Guide to Child Welfare Retention. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work
Potential Stay Interview Questions:
- You are a valuable part of our team. What will it take to keep you fostering with our agency? What might make you stop fostering with us?
- What would be the one thing that, if it changed, would make you consider no longer fostering?
- Based on your experiences thus far as a foster parent, what have you learned about your strengths?
- How are things different than you initially thought they would be?
- Of all the things you have done so far as a foster parent, what has been the most challenging?
- What is confusing for you at this point?
- What talents or skills would you like to develop more?
- Given what you know about fostering, what appeals most to you? What concerns you most?
- How is your relationship with our agency? What could make it better?
- How can we involve foster parents more in our agency?