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Recruitment of Resource Families

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1 Recruitment of Resource Families
December 2001 Recruitment of Resource Families The promise and the paradox Lorrie L. Lutz, MPP Welcome Introductions Team Members Attendees - by Program/Unit National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning Casey National Center for Resource Family Support

2 This work is dedicated to the memory of Joelle Horel
Foster Care Specialist for the State of Utah Division of Family and Children Services. Her dedication to the well-being of children and her commitment to creating meaningful partnerships with families was an inspiration to those who’s life she touched. Joelle you are deeply missed. March 2002

3 BACKGROUND According to the Children’s Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services, 64% of children adopted from the child welfare system are adopted by their foster parents.[1] If this trend persists and foster families continue to serve as the natural option for permanence for children in custody of the child welfare system, then the reality is that we may lose many of these families from the pool of available foster families. [1] Promising Practices: States Streamlining Foster and Adoptive Home Approval Process. (November 2000). Children’s Bureau Express. Volume 1, No. 7. March 2002

4 Certainly the resulting permanency for children is worth the loss, but this pattern suggest the need for states to develop rigorous, innovative and effective strategies for the recruitment of new resource families. March 2002

5 This Presentation Will Look At Five Innovative Strategies
Attend to the Details In Your Shop Characteristic-Focused Recruitment and Training. Data-based, Performance-based contracting with private agencies. Community and neighborhood-specific recruitment. Innovative partnerships between recruitment efforts and ongoing birth/resource family support. Child-specific recruitment strategies and orientation efforts that seek to help resource families better understand the challenges they will face. March 2002

6 AND…. We would also like to explore the “politics” of working
with foster families….the “behind the scenes” love-hate relationship that is played out between social workers and foster families and talk through the implications of this for Foster Parent Retention, which as we know ultimately impacts recruitment. March 2002

7 Attending to the Details

8 Attending To the Details
We strongly recommend beginning your efforts to enhance your recruitment process by flow-charting the details of the recruitment process. This provides an opportunity you to identify those points in the process when the prospective family can get lost in the system. Can it be streamlined? For example, the initial phone call—how many of you have ever called your own system? Are those that answer the phone friendly? Are they informed? How many times are families transferred? Are materials sent in an expedient manner? Are the materials compelling? March 2002

9 Flow Chart Your Processes
March 2002

10 Attending To the Details (2)
Recommend creation of a conversion goal: __% of families that call attend the initial training. Create broad system ownership for the recruitment process. March 2002

11 Characteristics of Effective Resource Families—Recruiting Smart

12 Characteristics of Effective Resource Families
From the research that has been completed over the past 5-10 years as part of understanding the evolving best practices of Concurrent Planning, Dual Licensure and more recently Recruitment and Retention—we have learned something about what is required of successful foster/resource families. March 2002

13 These Characteristics Include:
Resource Families See Themselves as a Support to the Birth Family. Resource Families Support and Encourage Frequent and Consistent Visitation Between the Child and his/her Birth Family. Resource Families are willing to live in the ambiguity of not knowing what might occur next. March 2002

14 This is Hard Work…. As stated by Mary Ford in her work on Concurrent Planning, “Resource families are asked to do nearly an impossible task…love the child like their own, including being open to having a permanent role in the child’s life, while at the same time serve as a support and mentor for the birth parents to help them successfully reunify with the child. Resource families safeguard the positive aspects of the child-birth parent relationship by stressing the birth parents worth and qualities, while simultaneously accepting the child’s negative feelings toward his parents. Resource families help the child to reconcile having two sets of parents.[1] [1] Ford, Mary. (1998). Three Concurrent Planning Programs How They Benefit Children and Support Permanency Planning Families. North American Council on Adoptable Children. March 2002

15 Logic suggests that during the recruitment process we seek
to better understand the characteristics of those Individuals we are asking to care for children in the child welfare system. This goes well beyond training and orientation to the facilitation of an in-depth discussion where potential foster/resource families are asked to look at their capacities in a structured manner. March 2002

16 Link Between…. Characteristics…Retention… and Recruitment
The link between resource family characteristics and recruitment and retention is based on the idea that if foster/resource families have a well-developed understanding of their own capacities and they can relate those capacities to the needs of the children and families in the system, it will result in more satisfied, less conflicted resource/foster families. This could result in greater retention---one of the mainstays of a strong recruitment program. March 2002

17 Mary Ford’s Work at NACAC
As part of NACAC’s work in Minnesota Mary Ford of NACAC is developing a training guide that will be published by the Department of Human Services. She strives in this guidebook to helping resource families understand their own philosophy and spiritual foundation and how this foundation or lack thereof will impact their role as a resource family. Further, during the training Ford asks prospective resource families a series of sensitive and thoughtful questions that go to the heart of the role of a resource family. These well-crafted self-assessment questions expose vulnerabilities and assets in ways that assist prospective resource families in coming to their own conclusions about their ability to be successful in this role. March 2002

18 Some of the Questions Include:
Question #1 Would you like to share a little bit about their philosophical, spiritual or religious belief system and how it helps you? Follow up with the question Who might define themselves as altruistic?   Question #2 What would you say to birth parents who said they were sorry for abusing or neglecting their child?  Question #3 How do you imagine sharing your foster child with other important people in this or her life? Question #4 Is it important to you to be certain about the outcome of your placement? Why or Why not? Question #5 Please describe how you’ve recovered when you experienced losses in your life. March 2002

19 Jefferson County Colorado (through the work of Linda Zschoche) also has defined the characteristics of successful resource families Resource parents can empathize for both the child and the birth family Resource families demonstrate flexibility in their expectations about the outcomes of the placement as well as in their day-to-day life. Resource parents tolerate ambiguity and uncertainty in the outcomes of a child’s case. They recognize that much of the decision-making is not in their hands, but in the hands of the juvenile court officials and child protection workers. Resource parents possess a philosophical, spiritual and religious belief system that supports altruism and providing care for others. March 2002

20 Jefferson County (2) Resource parents have acquired a basic satisfaction with where they are in life, with no significant, driving unmet needs. Resource parents demonstrate a willingness to share relationships with a child. Resource parents evidence resiliency when earlier losses were experienced. Resource parents demonstrate resourcefulness when confronted with challenges. Resource parents maintain positive connections with the community. March 2002

21 Performanced Based Contracting
A Partnership Model With the Private Provider

22 Elements of Performance Based Contracting—Minnesota, Missouri and Utah
Statewide recruitment goals that are data driven. Regional/community recruitment—with very specific recruitment targets—again these targets are data driven. Flexibility in the state/county-private provider relationship. Tight Reporting Controls March 2002

23 Statewide, Data-Driven Recruitment Goals

24 NACAC was awarded the contract.
Elements of Performance Based Contracting—Minnesota’s Broad Statewide, Data-Driven Recruitment Goals The state of Minnesota let a Request for Proposals for a statewide private agency to support their recruitment efforts. NACAC was awarded the contract. Calls for Regional Liaisons who work side by side with county staff. March 2002

25 In the final contract broad agency goals are identified:
Elements of Performance Based Contracting—Minnesota’s Broad Statewide Recruitment Goals (2) In the final contract broad agency goals are identified: Minnesota DHS expects successful outcomes at the end of the two-year contract to include: Increase in the number of skilled, trained, foster and adoptive homes. In the fourth through eight quarter of the grant the number of adoptive parents with completed home studies and foster parents licensed in each region will increase by at least 25 percent. During the fourth through eight quarters of the grant period the grantee will demonstrate that 75 percent of the developed foster homes were licensed by the county social service agency. March 2002

26 Decrease the likelihood of placement disruption for children.
Elements of Performance Based Contracting—Minnesota’s Broad Statewide Recruitment Goals (3) Decrease the likelihood of placement disruption for children.   In federal fiscal year 1999, 57 percent of the children in placement experienced two or fewer placement settings. It is expected that this will increase to 75 percent for the sixth and seventh quarters of the grant period, which would indicate a decrease in placement disruptions. Increase the expectation that siblings remain together in both foster care and adoptive placements. Statewide 103 sibling separations were requested for adoption in the calendar year It is expected that sibling separations in adoption would decrease by 25%. March 2002

27 Elements of Performance Based Contracting—Minnesota’s Broad Statewide Recruitment Goals (4)
Increase the likelihood that children who cannot return home achieve permanency with a relative or foster parent.   In federal fiscal year 1999, 634 Minnesota children were adopted. Of the 634 children, relatives adopted 180 children and former foster families adopted 175 children. The ratio of adoptions by foster families and relatives is expected to increase by 25 percent by the end of the seventh quarter of the grant period. March 2002

28 Community/Neighborhood Recruitment

29 Data Driven-Community Based Recruitment
Contracts Specify the numbers and types of homes required. (adolescents, sibling groups). Shelia Kitchen, of Children’s Place, a not-for-profit agency awarded one of the contracts for the Kansas City Missouri area was enthusiastic about the contracting model. She was clear that the greater the specificity in the regional plans, the more effective we are in recruitment of the kinds of families needed. The reality is that the more accurate and detailed information that the private providers have about the needs of the county regarding specific needs for homes, the better they are at recruiting accordingly. March 2002

30 Data Driven-Community Based Recruitment-Missouri
RFP was let and multiple contracts awarded. Payments for very specific activities. Recruitment of a family who goes through the entire process from the point of the in-home consultation, training and licensure. In-home consultations Provision of the initial pre-service training session. Completed assessments where the foster/adoptive family applicant is found to be skilled in all competencies listed in STARS and is recommended for licensure as foster parents or approval as adoptive parents. Completed Adoption Assessments. In-service training provided to foster/adoptive families. Reassessment of foster/adoptive families. March 2002

31 Data Driven-Community Based Recruitment-Missouri
Unique aspect of the second contract: If a family is recruited that does not meet the needs specified in the contract—the county does not have to pay the rate. Or if the county chooses to do the work “in-house” such as reassessments, it does not have to purchase this work from the provider—enabling the local entity to make maximum use of its resources. March 2002

32 Utah takes it from the Region to the Neighborhood.

33 Neighborhood Recruitment
Contract awarded to a hybrid not-for-profit community organization named in Utah code the “Utah Foster Care Foundation” “The turning point in our recruitment efforts was when the Board of Directors agreed that we should not conduct any major recruitment efforts until we fully understood the needs of the various regions of the state. We sought to understand the regional needs for homes for older children, sibling groups and children of diverse cultures. Then we had a clear message for the community recruitment efforts March 2002

34 Neighborhood Recruitment -Utah
Neighborhood Specific Needs are identified: Salt Lake Valley Metro Neighborhood: There are placements for 28% of the children in care. 24 foster/adoptive homes, 43 placement capacity, 9 empty homes and 21 openings. 152 children in care, 6 placements for any age child. March 2002

35 Utah Neighborhood Recruitment (cont)
Age Group Status Infant Preschool There are placements for 32% of children (16 placements/50 children) School age There are placements for 20% of children (10 placements/50 children) Adolescent There are placements for 21% of children (11 placements/52 children) Structured Adolescent There are placements for 13% of children (5 placements/31 children) Asian March 2002

36 Utah Neighborhood Recruitment (cont.)
These regional/neighborhood plans serve as the basis for the “swat team” approach used by Foundation staff. Once they compile the neighborhood data, using zip codes which assist in data analysis, they decide on a neighborhood to target and focus two months of recruitment within that targeted community. They contact newspapers where press releases and articles are published. They contact foster parents who assist in hosting open houses where community members come to learn more about foster parenting. One extremely effective recruitment strategy has been the partnerships that have been created with schools within the communities. The schools agree to distribute flyers announcing Open Houses and other community recruitment efforts. According to Kelsi Lewis, Director of the Foundation “It is remarkable the number of families who attend the community gatherings with these flyers in hand. We are very grateful to the schools for their support of our recruitment efforts.” March 2002

37 Tight Reporting Requirements

38 Elements of Performance Based Contracting—Missouri’s Reporting Requirements
Tight Reporting Requirements—On a monthly basis the private providers in Missouri must report on the following: Number of inquiries from potential foster/adoptive families Number of in-home consultations Number and names of foster/adoptive family applicants who withdrew or were selected out of the foster/adoptive application process. Number and names of foster/adoptive family applicants beginning pre-service training. General description of the recruitment activities provided by the contractor during the month. March 2002

39 Unique Partnerships With Foster Families

40 Partnerships –Reaching out to the Prospective Foster Fathers--Maine
According to Stephan Duplessis of Maine ….“The foster father is often forgotten in the process of fostering…it is the foster mom who is the focus of recruitment messages and support efforts. My goal is to reach out to the potential foster father and help them understand the nature and importance of their role.” As a member of the Advisory Committee for FACT (Families and Children Together), a community-based organization that has a contract with the state for the recruitment of foster families in Maine, Steffan takes it upon himself to contact all prospective foster fathers. In these conversations, he seeks to understand if the foster father is able to identify what they hope to both give and get out of the fostering experience. Steffan suggests, “if the individual cannot talk about his desire for some kind of connection with the child, I worry that he is not fully understanding his role. The male role model is critical to these children, and often to their families. I try to help the prospective foster father find his place in the fostering process.” March 2002

41 Child Specific Recruitment

42 Child Specific Recruitment --Alaska
Deborah Hayes--Director of Alaska Foster Parent Training Center Hayes suggests that the challenge one faces in Alaska is to slowly thread the concept of foster care into the Native American culture on a child-by-child basis. “In Alaska, some of the tribes are completely closed, independent communities, it is only through relationship and connection to the village and villagers that can recruit resource families. They look to individuals who are already in and connected to the village residents such as the Public Health nurses to identify people who may be likely candidates to serve as resource families for a specific child. According to Hayes, the culture within many Alaskan tribes requires that fellow villages not become involved until asked directly—and then only about a specific, known child . March 2002

43 Child Specific Recruitment --Maine
A critical aspect of Maine’s evolving recruitment effort is to provide dollars focused on child-specific recruitment. When children are coming out of the state system as legal risk adoption, the state makes it a point to recruit and certify homes specifically for that child. In hard to places cases, private agencies are provided information about the kind of home needed for the specific child and the private agency focuses on recruitment. March 2002

44 The “Politics” of the Social Worker Foster Parent Relationship
Getting to the Heart of the Matter….

45 Understanding the Power
An Issue That Impacts Retention (Which Impacts Recruitment)…the Quality of the Social Worker-Foster Care Relationship Understanding the Power Work through the Questioning of Motives Seek to Be Inclusive seeing the foster families as Partners Better Management of Abuse/Neglect Allegations March 2002

46 Understanding the Power
The common reason for foster parents leaving the system, cited in survey after survey, is lack of support. States must create opportunities for ongoing staff to learn about the importance of their interactions with foster families—that their relationship and treatment of foster families is fundamental to an effective recruitment and retention plan. March 2002

47 This is a Values Discussion
Needs to occur with all staff Needs to occur at the point of hiring at a minimum Staff need to be very clear about the expectations in regard to their interaction and role with foster families. Expectations include: Respect Inclusion Partnership March 2002

48 Recommendations Recommendations include:
Consider revising interview process to incorporate questions about this relationship. Incorporate this issue into performance evaluations. Keep it as a high priority during supervisory sessions. Train—Train—Train. March 2002

49 Work Through the Questioning of Motives
A foster father who elected not to share his name told a personal story ….“We have been foster parents for a long time and I think that most of the county staff know our commitment to permanency and reunification. However, a 14-year-old boy that has been living with us for some time came to us one evening and said that he no longer wanted to pursue adoption. He told us that he had formed a deep bond with us, was really active in his school, and just wanted to live with us until he graduated. We told him to make sure and think it through. If he was sure then we would fully support that decision. When this young boy told the social worker of his feelings the first words out of the social workers mouth were, “Have your foster parents pressured you into making this decision?” My wife and I were shocked and so was the young boy. We were suspect immediately.” We confronted the social worker and even talked to her supervisor to little or no avail…the system just doesn’t trust our motives…” March 2002

50 Management of Abuse Neglect Allegations
Recently – during a consultation with a state, based on a request to the NRCFCPP, we were specifically addressing the relationship between state social workers and foster families. I posed the following questions: Tell me your view of foster/adoptive parents and your sense of their motivations? Describe for me an excellent foster/adoptive parent. What are their skills and their philosophical underpinnings? Tell me why you think that it is generally hard to recruit foster/adoptive parents? Share with me why you think that foster/adoptive parents leave the system and no longer provide care? When you have been successful in recruiting foster parents why do you think you were successful? What were the messages? What was going on in the state? If you could define one thing in the system that is a significant barrier to recruitment and retention of foster families what would that be? Describe the quality of your orientation and ongoing training? Describe what foster parents would say about the support that they receive from the system. From one another? Describe the State Foster Parent Association, and any information that comes from this Association to its members. How is this Association funded? March 2002

51 Management of Abuse Neglect Allegations (2)
During these conversations the issue of the handing of abuse/neglect investigations arose. It was perceived as one of the major issues impacting retention in the state. The risk of these assessments and the perceived perception of guilt…was a tremendous deterrent to other families in the community. This is an area to which states need to pay close attention. Recommendations to this state included: --Standardizing the child abuse and neglect investigation process across the state for foster families. --Follow up piece needs to be refined and defined. --Train designated staff. --Educate and inform foster families regarding in the process prior to licensure. --Re-educate them during the process. §  March 2002

52 Good Luck!

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