The CHAMPS campaign is pleased to share a new report, “Analysis of State 2020-2024 Foster and Adoptive Parent Diligent Recruitment Plans.” For this report, CHAMPS reviewed and analyzed 42 diligent recruitment plans based on six “drivers” of effective foster parent recruitment and retention. These drivers, identified by leading experts, were featured in an earlier CHAMPS report (CHAMPS Guide to Foster Parent Recruitment and Retention) and include: child-centered, data-driven, leadership, collaboration and transparency, youth and parent voice, and sustainability.
In this new report, CHAMPS highlights innovative approaches to foster parent recruitment and retention and encourages child welfare agencies to draw on these examples as they continue to develop and implement their own state and local strategies. The report also offers recommendations for federal and state policymakers to consider as a means of strengthening family-based foster care.
Examples from the report:
- State plans from Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada and Tennessee include recruitment and training of foster parents able to work with birth parents to facilitate reunification. For example, Georgia is implementing Partnership Parenting, a trauma informed parenting model designed to allow parents to continue parenting while their children are in foster care.
- A number of states are using data-driven strategies such as performance-based contracting, geo-mapping, and creation of local data profiles and recruitment plan templates. For example, Iowa uses performance-based contracts with private agencies for recruitment, retention, training and support (RRTS). Performance measures are placement stability, recruitment/retention (overall net increase in families; recruitment/retention (increase in non-white families); and enhanced foster homes.
- Some plans reflect strategic involvement of agency leadership, such as in the creation of intra-agency teams, collaboration with external stakeholders and articulation of a vision for foster family recruitment and retention. For example, in Oklahoma agency leaders have made quality foster care a priority. The state has made a concerted effort to improve the resource family approval process and customer service to resource parents. The majority of resource homes are now approved within 60-90 calendar days from initial inquiry, down from 120 days.
- Several states highlight collaboration with stakeholders. South Dakota’s Native Foster Care Initiative is a state and tribal recruitment campaign that includes dissemination of materials to tribal communities at pow-wows and other tribal events. Wisconsin’s DCF tribal recruitment work group provided targeted recruitment assistance to tribal child welfare agencies. Five tribes created recruitment plans and increased licensed capacity by 100 percent in 2018.
- Many state plans describe how the views and stories of foster parents and youth are being captured and disseminated through surveys, interviews, focus groups, advisory boards, stakeholder meetings and research studies. For example, in Louisiana, foster parents and foster youth participate in pre-service and in-service training panels. Michigan’s Foster Care Navigator program engages foster caregivers to assist prospective foster parent throughout the licensing process. The Wisconsin Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center trains foster parents to recruit foster families within their communities. Foster parents are reimbursed for their time, travel and childcare and are given $100 gift cards for recruiting new foster families.
- Some plans describe strategies that help sustain the agency’s emphasis on recruitment and retention. Georgia’s plan describes a customer service model called IMPACT (Initial Interest, Mutual Selection, Pre-Service Training, Assessment, Continuing Development, Trauma-Informed Teamwork) whose motto is “Faster, Friendlier, Easier.”
Policy recommendations to Congress include:
- Strengthen the focus on desired results for foster family recruitment and retention by amending the current Diligent Recruitment plan requirements to focus on results, incorporate key data elements, and promote partnerships and retention;
- Require HHS to collect and publish information on trends and needs relating to foster parenting;
- Ensure that the Children’s Bureau’s Child Welfare Capacity Center Collaborative prioritizes recruitment and retention on an ongoing basis;
- Create a new federal grant program to facilitate effective partnerships between agencies and foster families;
- Amend Title IV-E reimbursement to streamline and improve financing for foster family recruitment, training, support and retention services.
We hope the report is a useful resource to federal, state and local child welfare agency staff as well as state and federal legislators, advocates, researchers and others who share an interest building more effective strategies to strengthen family-based foster care.
See here for the report.
See here for copies of state diligent recruitment plans.