Ideas from the Field
Collaborate: Read this article to learn about a Washington state collaboration aimed at recruiting more deaf foster families. It includes key steps taken by Washington state and tips for other child welfare systems for recruiting in the deaf community.
Partner with faith-based organizations interested in helping recruit foster and adoptive families from their faith community. For example, the Colorado Department of Human Services partnered with Wait No More, an initiative that develops and supports faith-based partnerships in multiple communities across the country. This was done as part of Colorado’s efforts to raise awareness among faith communities about the need for more adoptive parents for children and youth in foster care.
California enacted legislation that allows Tribal customary adoption to be recognized by the California courts. Tribal customary adoption allows for the transfer of custody of a child to adoptive parents without terminating the rights of the birth parents. The law is the first of its kind in the United States and also permits eligibility for Adoption Assistance benefits for Tribal customary adoptions.
The Tribal STAR program of the Academy for Professional Excellence, San Diego State University School of Social Work has a collection of information and resources about the legislation. Resources available include fact sheets for county and tribal social workers, agency memoranda, sample forms, a PowerPoint presentation, and training opportunities.
Learn more about customary adoption.
Engage and welcome military and global families as possible permanency options for children and youth in foster care. Military families stationed overseas, other American citizens residing abroad, and foreign nationals are expressing interest in adopting children and youth from the U.S. foster care system. Find out more about how to engage military families in your recruitment efforts with the resources below:
- Why Should I Go the Extra Step to Place a Child for Adoption With an American Military Family Living in Another Country? (PDF – 220 KB)
- Wherever My Family Is, That's Home! Adoption Services for Military Families (PDF – 1.9 MB)
Create Community-Based Recruitment Teams
Develop community-based recruitment teams (CBRTs) that strengthen your agency’s relationship with the community and engage community members as partners and leaders in recruiting and supporting resource families for targeted populations of children and youth in foster care. Developing CBRTs involves strategically bringing together multiple people and partners from the community, with community members leading the work and the child welfare agency taking an active role in coordinating their efforts. CBRT members may or may not be affiliated with an agency or organization—this does not need to be a requirement, as this approach is different from an organizational partnership between agencies.
Taking this community-based team approach can have multiple benefits:
- These teams can support your agency by engaging team members’ social networks, relationships, and connections in the community.
- Team members can share their knowledge of community culture and provide access to community resources.
- Your agency can improve relationships with specific communities, expand the reach of your recruitment and support efforts, and develop innovative recruitment and support approaches tailored to each specific community.
Child welfare systems can establish CBRTs specific to a geographic region (e.g., a CBRT for a specific neighborhood or town) in order to increase the number of resource families in that area who reflect the racial and ethnic characteristics of the children and youth in your agency’s care.
Another approach is to develop CBRTs to reach communities and groups that share a specific experience or connection, regardless of their geographic location, such as faith-based communities, LGBTQ adults, and Spanish-speaking communities. Denver’s Village, a 2008 Diligent Recruitment grantee project funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau, provides an example of one approach to developing successful CBRTs. Denver’s Village used CBRTs to develop and strengthen community partnerships to help improve permanency outcomes for Native American, African American, and Latino children in foster care. Learn more about how Denver’s Village developed their CBRTs.
Partner with community stakeholders to recruit and support a diverse pool of foster, adoptive, and kinship families. For ideas and suggested strategies, see our webinar Engaging Community Stakeholders: Strategies for Effective Recruitment of Foster and Adoptive Families (Flash – 1:28 hr.). This free 90-minute webinar held on July 20, 2011, focused on the importance of partnering with community stakeholders to recruit foster and adoptive families for children and youth in foster care. It highlighted creative strategies several of the Children’s Bureau’s 2008 Diligent Recruitment Grantees are using to do this by:
- Sharing lessons learned on building effective relationships with community partners
- Exploring how community partnerships have helped agencies strengthen their recruitment efforts
- Offering specific suggestions to engage community partners
The Florida project All Things Are Possible: No Limits Adoption Recruitment focuses on child-specific recruitment for African American children age 9 and older. The project uses:
- A 6-month individualized child-specific recruitment plan;
- Placement log;
- Traumatic events log;
- Log of all prior caregivers and significant adults in the youth’s life;
- Form letter to send to prior caregivers and significant adults who could become committed caring adults in that youth’s life.
The child-specific recruitment plan included many ideas for identifying potential families, updating the children’s files, and using a variety of media to promote the child and make his or her story known to as many families as possible.
As you assess and build your capacity for providing affirming placements for LGBTQ youth and for working with LGBTQ resource parents, keep in mind the following tips:
- Look at multiple ways to build your system’s capacity for good practice with LGBTQ youth and families. Connect your diligent recruitment efforts related to LGBQT youth and adults to other parts of your child welfare system, so staff see consistent approaches for supporting LGBTQ youth and for welcoming and engaging with LGBTQ adults throughout various parts of child welfare work.
- Don’t make assumptions about anyone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Work with your existing resource families to help them develop their knowledge and ability to be affirming and supporting of LGBTQ youth that they parent. Help resource families understand that youth may come out as LGBTQ after being placed with a family, so as with all children in foster care, families need to be prepared to meet the emerging needs of youth.
- Be aware of the complexities involved in data collection related to the sexual orientation or gender identity of youth and adults. Before asking youth or adults to self-identify as LGBTQ, you need to make it safe for them to share that information and be able to trust that it won’t be used or shared inappropriately.
See additional ideas from the field for targeted recruitment that you can use to reach diverse populations.
Looking for training or technical assistance?
Find out more about what we offer, and get in touch.