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Recruitment & Retention of Resource Families Lorrie Lutz

Recruitment & Retention of Resource Families Lorrie Lutz. Recruitment AND RETENTION of Resource Families. Lorrie L. Lutz, MPP Consultant . This learning was supported by the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning And the

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Recruitment & Retention of Resource Families Lorrie Lutz

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  1. Recruitment & Retention of Resource Families Lorrie Lutz

  2. RecruitmentANDRETENTIONof Resource Families Lorrie L. Lutz, MPP Consultant This learning was supported by the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning And the Casey National Center for Resource Family Support

  3. Presentation Overview • Characteristics of Successful Resource Families • Attending to the Details in Your Shop • Recruitment Nuances • State • Community/Neighborhood • Child Specific • Performance-Based Partnerships with Private Community-Based Agencies • Policy Development –making lasting systemic changes

  4. They Are Recruiting Smart!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Characteristics (cont) • Resource parents have acquired a basic satisfaction withwhere 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. Linda Zosche-Jefferson County Colorado

  8. Link Between …. Characteristics … Retention… and Recruitment Building a link between resource family characteristics and recruitment is based on the hypothesis 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Some of the Questions Include: • Would you like to share a little bit about your philosophical, spiritual or religious belief system and how it helps you? • What would you say to birth parents who said they were sorry for abusing or neglecting their child? • How do you imagine sharing your foster child with other important people in this or her life? • Is it important to you to be certain about the outcome of your placement? Why or Why not? • Please describe how you’ve recovered when you experienced losses in your life. Mary Ford NACAC

  11. They are Attending to the Details!

  12. Attending To the Details—Kentucky’s Model • Kentucky began its efforts 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 ….. • Can it be streamlined? More Responsive? More Timely? • 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?

  13. Flow Chart Your Processes

  14. Then Set Goals Based on What You Learn • Creation of a conversion goal that __% of families that call attend the initial training. • Creation of a conversion goal that __% of families who attend the initial training go on to complete the licensure process. • Creation of a goal that ___% of families who complete the licensure process are still serving children and families 18 months later.

  15. They Are Effectively Using Performanced Based Contracting A Partnership Model With the Private Community Based Organization

  16. Elements of Effective Performance Based Contracting • Statewide recruitment goals that are data driven. • Regional/community/neighborhood recruitment—with very specific recruitment targets—again these targets are data driven. • Tight Reporting Controls

  17. Statewide Goals linked to regional recruitment • Based on statewide analysis of data gain consensus on priorities. • While the goals are statewide— how they are achieved is through the local counties, regions and communities • In the state of Minnesota, NACAC has the contract to develop in partnership with the counties—region specific recruitment and retention action plans that list the projected number and types of parents to be recruited. • Plans include detailed recruitment strategies, locations for distributing materials, where and when presentations will be made including places of worship. PTAs, union gatherings, county fairs, etc. • Video has been created to support the recruitment efforts • New recruitment materials have been developed that are varied for audience. • Regional specific retention activities

  18. Data-Driven Recruitment in Missouri • Contracts Specify the numbers and types of homes required. (adolescents, sibling groups).Shelia Kitchen, 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.

  19. Data Driven Recruitment in Missouri • 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.

  20. Utah takes it from the Region to the Neighborhood.

  21. 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

  22. 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.

  23. 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 There are placements for 21% of children (11 placements/52 children) Utah Neighborhood Recruitment (cont)

  24. 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.”

  25. Tight Reporting Requirements

  26. Effective Elements of Performance Based Contracting—Reporting Requirements • Tight Reporting Requirements—On a monthly basis the private providers 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.

  27. 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.

  28. When a child being placed in a home really needs a male role model—A seasoned foster father in Maine takes action… 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 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.”

  29. Good Luck!

  30. A Look At How Various Policy Initiatives Are Impacting Recruitment and Retention

  31. Policy and its Impact on Recruitment and Retention • Dual Licensure • Full Disclosure • Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect Allegations

  32. Background on Dual Licensure Historical child welfare practice did not allow foster parents to adopt or they strongly discouraged them from doing so through written and unwritten rules. As recently as the early 1970’s, most public adoption agencies had policies against practice of foster parent adoption.

  33. Reasons Included: • Fear of losing their valuable cadre of foster families. • Fear that foster families hoping to adopt, would undermine attempts to attain the primary goal of family reunification. • Historical licensure processes that were based on a foster families’ ability to provide temporary care, not a lifetime commitment. • Decisions to place a child in a particular foster home frequently were based on available space and not because a foster family was determined to be the best possible match for a particular child

  34. For these reasons and others, a child who became freed for adoption and who was doing well living with a foster family, would have in the past been moved to another family – without allowing the foster parent to have any input into the process of selection of the adoptive family or even continued contact with the child, thus exacerbating the child’s experiences with loss, lack of continuity and permanent relationships.

  35. Today, child welfare practice reflects a very different picture. The increasing reality is that foster parents, and not newly recruited adoptive parents, have come to serve as the most consistent and viable option for permanence for children in care.

  36. According to the Children’s Bureau Express, 64% of children adopted from the child welfare system are adopted by their foster parents (although not necessarily the families with whom they were first placed). Not only are foster parents adopting children in their care, but according to the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, these placements are very successful… with 94 percent of these adoptions remaining intact throughout the life of the child.

  37. The Promise of Permanency It appears that the promise of permanency for children in the child welfare system who are unable to return to their birth parents, lies in many instances with their foster parents – relatives or non-relatives. Because of this, seasoned child welfare staff have been working to ensure that once a foster family has bonded with the child and made the commitment to adopt, the standards, rules and process of transitioning from a foster parent to an adoptive parent is as smooth and seamless as possible. In this vein, some child welfare agencies are beginning to explore the development of “dual licensure” policy andpractice.

  38. Dual licensure means that foster parents and adoptive parents walk through the same screening and interview, home study, training and background check processes, and in the end receive the same “approval” to provide foster and/or adoptive care. Dual licensure allows for a foster parent, who has cared for a child for some length of time, to naturally and easily change their role from that of a foster parent to an adoptive parent, without having to go through an entirely new home study and training process.

  39. Comments from State Representatives Scott Dixon, Foster Care Specialist from the State of Texas has an interesting perspective. “It used to be that when foster parents adopted children, they were perceived as seeking a ‘back door’ adoption. By opening the process up, it allows both adoptive parents and foster parents to be completely honest about their struggles and their motivations. While a foster family may be very clear that they do not want to adopt every child that comes into their home, if one comes who has no other place to go and the family bonds with that child…they have a choice—one that they can discuss openly while making an informed decision.” Kit Hansen, President of the Utah Foster Parent Association and foster mother agrees. “About eight years ago I remember vividly a circumstance where two children who had been in foster care for eight months, were abruptly pulled from the foster home and never saw the family again. These children were attached to the foster family and the foster family was devastated at the loss. This should never occur.” [

  40. Comment from the Children’s Bureau Patsy Buida, the Foster Care Specialist at the Children’s Bureau ACF/DHHS suggests “It (dual licensure) is a tool to maximize use of resource families in a flexible way that lets them decide how to interface with the system and what type of parenting fits their lifestyle—short-term foster care or long term adoption. If a family has committed to and bonded with a child, it makes no sense to search any longer. Social workers spend a considerable amount of time being anxious about the fact that we don’t always know enough during our first placement to make the best match between the child and the resource family. We want to move children because we learn more about the kind of family that would be the “best” match. We need to get more comfortable in doing the best we can with the information we have. Timely permanence is as important, if not more important as a “perfect match”.


  42. Practice Implication #1:Child and Family Matching Becomes an Earlier Concern. • Difficulty in finding/making the “right” placement match between children and families, if the first placement is truly is to be the last/best. • Dual licensure encourages earlier placements with resource families who can support the reunification process and also serve as permanent resource if children cannot return to their parents. • It may mean that staff will need to make placements with resource families without the same amount of information about the child and the family-- as was common practice in adoptive or even pre-adoptive placements

  43. Practice Implication #2Family-Centered Practice and Reunification Continue to Be a Critically Important Focus. • The practice framework for dual licensure needs to be rooted in family-centered principles and strategies – a framework that seeks to preserve children’s ties to their families of origin by involving other related or non-related family resources to support that process and serve as backup permanent resource if needed. • If a child is placed with a foster/adoptive family, overburdened child welfare staff may see a child as safe and ‘successfully’ placed in a home that can serve as a permanent option if needed, and therefore may not work as diligently towards reunification. • Staff will need to be provided a “toolbox of resources” to support this approach to practice such as: family-centered assessment instruments, consistent and frequent supervision, a pool of resource families who understand their role as mentor to the birth parents, and a practice model that supports open and inclusive case planning with parents and resource families.

  44. Practice Implication #3Systems Re-organization Supports Dual Licensure and Enhances Continuity of Relationships For Children With Families and Staff • States and counties that have been successful in implementing a dual licensure model have reorganized their systems in ways that support earlier planning and decision-making around permanency for children. • Rather than having separate foster care and adoptive units, many have combined these units and integrated practice. • In these reorganized units, a single worker stays with the child regardless of the outcomes of the case, i.e. reunification, guardianship or adoption. • With this continuity of relationship, the child and family do not have to tell their story more than once, and the worker who was with the child during the attempted reunification phase, supports the child in the transition to the goal of adoption, should that be necessary.

  45. Practice Implication #4Keep the pool growing: Ongoing recruitment is urgently needed. • States were concerned that by encouraging foster parents to become adoptive parents they would substantively and dangerously diminish their pool of foster parents. • While this is in fact a reality, most individuals surveyed believe that timely permanency for children is worth the extra demands it places on the system to continually recruit and train new foster parents as resources for children and families. • Dual licensure requires intensive efforts on the part of public and private agencies to expand their recruitment efforts and often require a shift in the message about the role of a diverse pool of families who can meet the complex needs of children and families.

  46. Practice Implication #5Resource Family Understanding and Support of the Permanency Planning Process is Critical • Dual licensure is likely to be successfully implemented when resource families understand and can support the process of Permanency Planning – a process which is grounded in the belief that whenever safely possible, reasonable efforts should be made to help children remain with or be returned to their birth families; and that parents, foster parents and agencies must work together to achieve the range of permanency outcomes.

  47. Full Disclosure As a Practice Model

  48. Full Disclosure It honors the integrity of the process and ensures that birth parents and resource parents have the same information, thereby allowing them to make informed decisions. Full disclosure provides the birth parents with a “lay of the land” and a road map of what needs to occur and when, if their children are to be returned home.

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