Cultivating Rock Star Foster Parents

We know that foster parents are some of the best word-of-mouth recruiters of other foster parents. So how can agencies engage their resource families into becoming Rock Star promoters of foster care? Is your agency responsive to the needs of your foster parents? What are your foster parents saying about your agency? And, more importantly, what do you want your foster parents to say about your agency?

Providing excellent customer service to foster parents is not a new concept, but one that can be overlooked in the busyness of day to day workloads and demands. This issue of Foster Care Footnotes focuses on providing excellent customer service to the foster parents who help us serve our children in the child welfare system.

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 anytime: 414-475-1246, 800-762-8063, .  

Featured Resource: Using Customer Service Concepts to Enhance Recruitment and Retention Practices, by the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids

This resource was developed specifically to help child welfare agencies assess, develop, and implement policies and practices to help agencies provide good customer service and apply these concepts to help recruit and retain resource families.

"The customer service an agency provides is different from the services it delivers. An agency's services might include foster care and adoption, family reunification, and youth development, whereas customer service refers to the manner in which an agency provides its services and the way an agency treats people. Providing good customer service means underscoring respect, empathy, and caring as we relate to each other and the people we serve."   

Here's an Idea: Stay Interviews

Stay interviews are a tool that agencies can use to help with understanding the needs of their foster families and what motivates them. This is a tool that can be used when placements end, at re-licensing, or when concerns come up. Utilizing these interviews with foster parents can help agencies assess how fostering is going overall, strengths of the family and agency, where foster parents needed more support, training needs and more. These discussions with your foster families can lead to trusting relationships between your agency and foster families, improve retention, to help your foster families feel valued and supported. This helps agencies better meet the needs of foster families and the children in their care. 

Potential Stay Interview Questions
  1. 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?
  2. What would be the one thing that, if it changed, would make you consider no longer fostering?
  3. Based on your experiences thus far as a foster parent, what have you learned about your strengths?
  4. How are things different than you initially thought they would be? 
  5. Of all the things you have done so far as a foster parent, what has been the most challenging?
  6. What is confusing for you at this point?
  7. What talents or skills would you like to develop more?
  8. Given what you know about fostering, what appeals most to you? What concerns you most?
  9. How is your relationship with our agency? What could make it better
  10. How can we involve foster parents more in our agency?

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
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