It’s back-to-school time! What can that mean for foster care recruitment? Are you struggling with not having enough foster homes? Homes that aren’t located by the schools the children in care are attending? Why not engage the schools and groups associated with them to help with your recruitment efforts?

Schools are a natural place to meet parents and other people who already care for children. Because they are on the front line with our children, teachers and staff understand the many social issues that face children and families, things like substance abuse, homelessness, domestic violence, neglect, and poverty, making them a great resource for foster families. They have experience with and care about the children and, most importantly, are folks who want to make a difference in a child’s life.

Try focusing your efforts at the schools that children in your program attend.
You might consider:
  • Putting flyers in the welcome folders that schools provide to families
  • Talking at a new teacher orientation
  • Having a table at school registration
  • Inviting a foster parent to join you at the school recruitment event and other events
  • Talking at the PTO or other parent groups
  • Talking at other sports or service groups
  • Speaking at an in-service for staff and teachers

Engage families in your foster care program to speak at these events for you. After all, they already live the life of foster care. These are also perfect opportunities to utilize your Foster Parent Champions. Ask your existing families what groups they belong to and provide them with handouts or other recruitment materials to take with them to a meeting. Some of our Foster Parent Champions are having success in recruiting new homes by setting up booths at school registration.

Design your materials to target the families you’re recruiting for. Be sure to use a variety of images--LGBTQ families, single parents, families of color, etc. Representation matters and imagery is often a vital first impression.

As with any recruitment effort, be prepared when interested parents call. Be ready to be personally engaged. Many families decide not to foster if too much time elapses with no personal contact. Work to rule people into, not out of, the process. It is important to remember that the most ordinary, and sometimes the most unusual!, people have grown into amazing resource parents with the right training and support.