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Family and Children's
Resource Program

Vol. 25, No. 2
April 2020

Outcomes Depend on Our Efforts to Recruit and Retain Resource Families

When we have enough skilled, high-quality foster and adoptive parents and kin caregivers, it is easier to place children in their communities and school districts. More siblings can stay together. Careful matching with caregivers is easier. Children awaiting adoption don't have to wait as long for forever families.

Bottom line? Permanence outcomes depend a great deal on the diligent recruitment and retention (DRR) of resource families. Understanding this, the federal government developed a wealth of DRR resources through the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment. North Carolina, too, has focused on DRR, supporting agencies through webinars, issues of Practice Notes and Fostering Perspectives, the guide Treat Them Like Gold, and a document entitled, "Key Drivers for Improving Diligent Recruitment and Retention Outcomes."

Below you will find information about a DRR resource agencies and practitioners should know about. Although the national campaign CHAMPS (Children Need Amazing Parents) explicitly focuses on foster parents, the policies and winning approaches outlined in this roadmap are applicable to DRR of adoptive and kinship families as well. Visit to learn more about CHAMPS.

A Roadmap to Achieving Success in Foster Parent Recruitment and Retention

Reprinted from

Past approaches to recruitment often have focused too narrowly on recruiting "enough" families and have overlooked the underlying problems that cause many families to give up or walk away from foster parenting. We can do better. Solutions exist.

Winning Approaches
Implement data-driven recruitment and retention practices Winning policy approaches include maintaining a foster parent census to closely track the availability of foster families to meet the needs of children and teens in their community; making the first placement the best placement by using targeted recruitment and pre-match strategies; and gathering and using feedback from foster families to continually improve practice by conducting surveys, focus groups, and exit interviews with foster families to understand their experiences, what they need to succeed, and their reasons for quitting.
Provide foster parents with timely access to trusted, dedicated staff
and to peer support
Winning policy approaches include investing in crisis mobile response services to help stabilize placements when high needs or emergencies occur; hiring experienced foster parents to serve as dedicated peer support workers to train and coach foster families in caring for children with greater needs; and supporting kinship navigator services to support relative caregivers.
Engage foster parents in decision-making Winning policy approaches include establishing foster parent advisory boards; improving notification of foster parents about court proceedings; and training caseworkers on information sharing with foster parents about the child's health and education needs.
Support relationships between birth
and foster families
Winning policy approaches include recruitment plans that target prospective foster families who have an interest in coaching and mentoring birth families; shared parenting policies that include comfort calls and icebreakers; and caseworker training on family engagement practices such as team decision making.
Prioritize placements with family members Winning policy approaches include kinship firewalls that put in place a special approval process needed for non-kin placements; removing licensing barriers for kin who can provide a safe and stable placement; and requiring family-finding at first contact.
Ensure timely access to physical and mental health services Winning policy approaches include ensuring children have access to medical homes and trauma-informed care; providing state-of-the-art training to help foster parents and workers understand and manage children's physical and behavioral health needs; authorizing foster parents to consent to routine medical care; and facilitating sharing of health information through electronic information exchange.