5 Things Every Foster Care Recruiter Should Know

Five Important Concepts for Foster Care Recruiters

    • Be Respectful
    • Be Honest
    • Be Present
    • Be Resourceful
    • Be Positive

In 2016, according to the Administration for Children and Families, there were 437,500 kids in foster care in the US, and child care agencies were actively recruiting foster parents. Agencies are always recruiting placement homes. Many of those children are in something called “kinship care” which means that they are cared for by a family member. Others shuffle from placement to placement hoping for eventual permanency. That permanency can come as reunification with parents or through adoption. The average foster home stays open for a year because foster parents often step into the process starry-eyed and unprepared. Although there is always a deficit of available homes, recruiters should be honest with prospective foster parents about the commitment they are making. Here are five things foster recruiters should know.

Be Respectful

Whether recruiters are aides working as they complete their degrees, or whether they hold master’s degrees in social work, they must view prospective foster parents with respect. The people who apply as foster parents are often those who have raised their own families and who are seasoned parents. “Talking down” to applicants is a sure way of setting a block in their paths. A North Carolina Children’s Services publication says recruiters should treat foster parents as they themselves would want to be treated, putting themselves in the parents’ shoes at every step of the recruitment process.

Be Honest

Foster parents believe the advertising that you don’t have to be wealthy, young or have a traditional household to be accepted. Still, foster children are not “normal” kids. An article Foster Focus.com cites a Casey Family Program study found that one-in-four children experienced PTSD. That is twice the rate for returning veterans. More than half had at least one mental health condition. Many have behaviors or emotional issues that must be addressed. Recruiters should know that foster parents will be more successful in their roles if they are advised early on to set realistic limits in the ages and number of children they take and in the types of behaviors with which they are prepared to deal. A seventy-year-old foster mom may not be up to two-a.m. baby feedings. Recruiters must assess the ability of prospective foster parents no matter what their ages and be honest helping them set appropriate limits in the types of children they agree to foster. Foster parents also should understand that they will probably need to interact with the child’s biological family if it is still involved with the child, and that the bio-parents still determine things such as when a child gets a haircut and what type he gets or whether the foster family may take the child to their place of worship.

Be Present

If you tell a parent that you will get back to them with the answer to a question, get back to them. If you are out of the office, be certain that your voice mail message is up-to-date and reflects when you will actually be available. Nothing is quite as frustrating as being unable to contact the person with whom you need to talk, even though you call when they are supposed to be in the office.

Be Resourceful

Prospective foster parents are making a huge commitment, and they will have many uncertainties. There are things a seasoned foster parent can tell them that a caseworker cannot. Older foster parents can reassure empty-nest applicants that they can be successful. People who accept special-needs children can realistically answer questions about fostering those kids. Recruiters who connect applicants to experienced foster parents will have more information at their fingertips.

Be Positive

Prospective foster parents don’t want to hear about inter-office squabbles or about ineffective caseworkers. There are many factors to consider in becoming a foster parent. The most important one is that foster homes make a big difference in the lives of kids who have had no stability. Foster parents matter immensely.

Related Resource: Top 10 Best Online Social Work Degree Programs

There are many messages that prospective foster parents hear from recruiters. Some are verbalized, and some are picked up from actions and attitudes of the worker. However it is delivered, though, recruiters should know that the loudest message they must send to prospective foster parents is, “You can do this.”