Recruitment . . . just thinking about it can cause anxiety! Figuring out and identifying what it is that keeps you going may be the most important factor in successful recruitment work. Your "it factor" might be the children and families you help, or maybe the feeling of accomplishment or a job well done.
Once you know what keeps you motivated, how might you stay motivated?
- First, start your day out right. You might start with a morning exercise routine or by finding ways to avoid that rushed feeling in the morning. Maybe that means setting your alarm a little earlier, looking at your calendar the night before and having everything set out that you need for the next day, or even having your breakfast/lunch prepared.
- Enjoy your environment. Make it a place you want to go to. Make it uniquely "you" by using cute office supplies, decorations, or small plants. Keep pictures of the children/families that are your success stories where you can easily see them. Add and/or change them regularly.
- Set realistic goals. Recruiting foster families is hard work. By setting realistic goals you lessen the chance of feeling discouraged.
- Try setting smaller short term goals. Celebrate the small wins. Try keeping track of them in a place that you can easily see. It’s important to realize you are making a difference.
- Surround yourself with positive people. One of the single most important things to do is surround yourself with positive people. Seek out positive co-workers, foster families, former foster youth. Reach out to the Coalition for new ideas and support. We have tip sheets, Footnotes, and experienced staff to help support you in your efforts to recruit quality foster families.
We also asked some of Wisconsin's Foster Care Coordinators what advice they offer to be successful at recruitment. Here is what they shared:
- Be really good up front during the licensing process.
- Provide a support group, help with child care.
- Be sensitive to a family’s time and time frame.
- Look to your foster families, they are your best recruiters.
- Pay a finder’s fee to foster families that refer other families that get licensed.
- Find ways to make it work by thinking outside of the box. (An example of thinking outside of the box: Combine your efforts of recruitment with retention. Dawn Douglas from Dane County has a foster family event at the Mallards game. They have a tailgate party at the game and set up a booth for recruiting. As Dawn said, families like activities that are for the whole family, because often child care is an issue for our families. This is a great opportunity to partner with a community business: think donations for food, game, child care, venue.)
- Be more open minded. Families are different, embrace their differences!
- Encourage information seeking.
- Share Information with the families.
- Be responsive to inquiries from prospective foster parents.
- Keep good records.
Finally, as you go about your work recruiting new foster families, here are some characteristics you may want to be on the look for:
- Good support system in place