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2008 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 13, No. 3
July 2008

In Favor of a Regional Approach to Resource Family Recruitment and Retention

The NC Division of Social Services has come to believe that overconcern with jurisdiction and competition for resources sometimes impedes efforts to find and retain resource families in North Carolina. In response, the Division is urging public agencies to take a “regional approach” to recruiting and retaining resource parents, one that involves working closely and collaboratively with other public agencies, jointly offering foster parent pre-service training, and freely sharing information about available foster and adoptive homes.

Through regional collaboration, counties can pool scarce resources for recruitment materials and training, license families in a more timely manner, and potentially have access to more foster and adoptive homes that fit the individual needs of the children in care.

The vast majority of the 68 agencies responding to North Carolina’s recent recruitment and retention survey said they were interested in exploring this approach. That’s not surprising, since many county DSS agencies already engage in collaborative recruitment and retention practices to some degree.

The Division would like to see agencies intensify their efforts to work regionally. However, in keeping with the ethos of our county-administered, state-supervised system, it is up to each county and each region to decide how to go about this.

One way to get started might be to use a regional recruit-ment and retention committee. You can use existing inter-agency committees, collaboratives, and other groups to lead this effort on the local level, or you can start from scratch. Either way, it is a good idea to have the following people serve on the committee: DSS workers, DSS supervisors and program managers, foster parents, and community members with experience and connections in the fields of media relations, marketing/public relations, fundraising, local government, local business/chamber of commerce, local churches, and cultures and communities that reflect children in care.

If you are interested in expanding the regional approach in your area but need help getting started, contact the Jordan Institute for Families’ Mellicent Blythe (mblythe@email.unc.edu) or John McMahon (johnmcmahon@mindspring.com).