Identifying and Using Community Partners 

Recruitment can sometimes take a back seat to the pressure to license resource (especially relative) families, using time-consuming assessments. Once licensed, this pool of families still may not meet the need for all of the children in your community needing placement. This issue of Foster Care Footnotes focuses on the practice of identifying and using community partners. These relationships could increase your fostering capacity, as well as fulfill roles you simply don't have the time or staff for. (Read more in Denise Goodman's Recruiting for Free  on pp. 6-12.)  
  • Who's into family? Identify family-friendly organizations in your area; they are your go-to resources for potential foster families. Schools, Boys 'n Girls Clubs, YMCA's, faith-based organizations, and hospital volunteers are just some of the family-friendly groups to connect with. Ask your current foster parents as well as your staff about the family-oriented organizations to which they belong.

     
  • Connect with a champion for kids in that organization and begin building that relationship. Of course the easiest champion to identify and connect with is one of your own foster parents or staff members who are members of these organizations. However, even if you're starting "cold" with a potential partner, look for a person with influence in the group who can motivate members to extend a hand for kids. Sometimes that person can be identified simply by looking at the group's website.
     
  • Find ways to open doors. Engage the group by appealing to their unique needs. Could the school use a teacher session on mandated reporting? Does the church want help developing their 'safe-place' training? Finding a common denominator will make it easier to get access to the group's membership. For example, at the end of a mandated reporter training, the licensing coordinator and a foster parent can discuss your community's need for foster parents, as well as provide some real-life stories about the rewards of fostering.
     
  • Partners can play many roles. Beyond being a possible resource for foster families, community partners can lighten your load in other ways. Do the children going into care need school supplies, personal hygiene items, a stuffed animal? Does your agency need private spaces to hold supervised visits? Many groups are looking for ways to contribute to their community in socially responsible ways. Make your specific needs known to these groups. Their efforts to fill a need for children in the system will not only enhance the lives of children, but fulfill a role you may not have time for. Of course another benefit to this partnership is a built-in audience for your recruitment message.

  • Take it one more step. You can even think of community partners in terms of doing the recruitment piece for you. By developing a Community Based Recruitment Team (CBRT) you engage community members as partners and leaders in recruiting resource families. In this approach you bring together individuals from different parts of the community to form a recruitment team that will have diverse talents and connections. While the child welfare agency as an active role, the team itself does the recruiting. CBRTs have been developed in Denver and other areas by utilizing grants. (Read more at NRCDR's Ideas from the Field.)

We hope this information is useful for you! We also want to remind you that we are here to help and support you. Please don't hesitate to reach out to the Resource Specialists at the Coalition: 414-475-1246, 800-762-8063, info@coalitionforcyf.org .
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Coalition for Children, Youth & Families | 414-475-1246 | info@coalitionforcyf.org | coalitionforcyf.org
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