A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation looks at ways child welfare agencies can improve foster parent recruitment and retention.
In the report, the authors argue that more training and support of foster parents can result in more nurturing experiences for children in foster care, better placements for child-welfare agencies and better support of children’s relationships with birth parents.
Foster parent recruitment has emerged as a frequent issue for many jurisdictions across the country, with a decreasing number of foster parents sometimes placing a strain on child welfare agencies. For example, administrators from these agencies haven’t always cultivated good relationships with foster parents, particularly around adoption policies. According to the report, these types of interactions have impacted the number of foster parents, leading to a downturn in foster parent recruitment.
In response to this issue, the Casey Foundation report looks at the promising practices of several foster parent-agency partnerships. The goal of these collaborations is to promote the role of foster parents in the child welfare system and find ways to build partnerships that will promote a child-centered partnership.
The report calls for adopting different policies and practices in three areas:
- Ensure quality caregiving for children
- Forge strong relationships with foster parents
- Find and keep more amazing caregivers
Child welfare agencies can better encourage foster parents to be better caregivers through greater training and education programs, the development of supportive peer networks for foster parents and by providing financial and other resources to support youth in foster care.
The report also calls out ways that agencies can build better partnerships with foster parents. Some of these ideas include creating foster parent advisory boards, ensuring that the perspective of foster parents is heard at court and improving the way agencies communicate and update foster parents with relevant information.
Child welfare agencies should address retention and recruitment issues by adopting promising practices, such as partnering with faith-based communities, using child-specific recruitment efforts and adopting more flexible licensing processes for foster parents.
Read the full report here.