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Vol. 13, No. 3
July 2008

Finding Families for Children in Foster Care

Wait! Don’t put this issue down or pass it on without reading it yourself. No matter what your job title or duties are, if you work for a child-placing agency, this issue is for YOU.

Skeptical? You’re probably not alone. Our child welfare system has many strengths, but one of its weaknesses is a tendency to compartmentalize families and those who serve them. According to this mindset, if the topic at hand is finding and retaining resource families, the only appropriate audience is your agency’s designated recruiter or licensing professional.

A reasonable assumption, perhaps.

But wrong.

Everyone’s Job
In recent years more and more child welfare agencies have realized that DSS can’t do it alone—it takes everyone in a community to keep children safe. As a result, North Carolina is pursuing collaboration as never before through the Multiple Response System, System of Care, and child and family team meetings.

The same concept applies to recruitment and retention of resource families. There may be a designated person in your agency whose job it is to find, train, and retain resource families, but the truth is that this person can’t succeed without the support and involvement of the entire agency.

The Link to Outcomes
Contributing to the recruitment and retention of resource families should be a matter of enlightened self-interest, not charity.

You see, the success of foster care, federal laws such as the Adoption and Safe Families Act, and child welfare agencies in general all rest on our ability to create and sustain an ample pool of resource families.

If we have enough resource families, we stand a better chance of keeping siblings together, placing children in their communities, decreasing the length of foster care stays, increasing placement stability, eliminating unnecessary residential placements, and achieving the core outcomes of safety, well-being, and permanence.

An adequate pool of resource families can have financial benefits, too. For instance, if children are placed with families instead of group homes, placement costs will go down. If agencies find families for children in their own communities, they will save on travel. This money could then be used to improve outcomes.

You Can Help
Finding and supporting families for children in foster care is everyone’s job. This issue of Practice Notes offers information and ideas to help you with this critical task.

What Are"Resource Families"?

Foster families. Adoptive families. Relatives who provide kinship care. Legal guardians.

In this issue of Practice Notes and in an increasing number of agencies, all these are referred to as “resource families.” The term refers to anyone who provides a safe, stable, loving home for a child when the child’s birth parents are unable to provide one.

Why use this term? We need to think more broadly about potential families and children’s needs. All kinds of families are needed for children in foster care. Sometimes children need families who can play multiple roles over time.

Instead of dividing families into categories, we are chooosing to use a term that leaves the possibilities as open as possible.


Contents of this Issue

Overview of Resource Parent R&R in North Carolina

From the Perspective of the CFSR

Recruitment and Concurrent Planning

In Favor of a Regional Approach to Resource Family R&R

Retention IS Recruitment

What Can I and My Agency Do to Improve Recruitment?

Tracking and Evaluation Are Key

Efforts to Support Public Agencies in North Carolina

References for this Issue

Click here to read or print the entire issue as a pdf file