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Table of Contents Introduction What is recruitment? What is retention? How to assess your county’s needs for recruitment? Challenges or obstacles you might encounter How much funding do you have? How to do recruitment with no funding? Types of recruitment Recruitment Materials & Resources Links How to develop an action plan? Agency inquiry process Post-licensing support for foster families Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 What should be in an information packet sent to inquirers?

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Introduction From a public/community relations perspective, General Recruitment is your agency’s opportunity to help your community address the need for and be supportive of its foster parents. Most people in your community may not be foster or adoptive parents but may be in a position to encourage a coworker, friend or relative who is interested in fostering. The way you describe the children in foster care and the need for people to help take care of them frames peoples’ perception of “who the kids are” and “who the foster parents are.” In designing your general recruitment campaign, be attuned to realism. Avoid using photos, images, and descriptors that are different from what foster parents will actually experience. Think through the descriptive words you use and think about how they are contributing to your community’s understanding of the foster care system. The use of images (a scared child, a crying child, a child with bruises) might also create a perception that does Sample of an inquiry packet from Summit County. not match the reality of the children who need foster care. Finally, think through the urgency of your general recruitment message. If your ad says that you need foster parents NOW and that message gets people to call in with a shared sense of urgency, how will they react when they learn that the actual licensing process could take several months?


PCSAO Recruitment Guide

What is recruitment?

Recruitment is the act of educating members of the community about Foster Care and Adoption for purposes of finding temporary and permanent family placements for children in agency custody. It is also the act of advocating on behalf of a particular child to recruit prospective adoptive families that meet the child’s specific needs.

Billboard - Ashtabula County

What is retention?

Retention is the act of keeping families who have already entered the foster care and adoption system fully informed and actively engaged with your agency on an ongoing basis.

How to assess your county’s needs for recruitment?

No matter how large or small, each county needs some sort of recruitment program. However the specific size and scope of this program, and the specific types of recruitment activities necessary can best be determined through an analysis of the number of children who come into care and their unique 1/4 page flyer - Athens County characteristics, including, but not limited to age, gender, race/ethnicity and special needs – as well as a similar analysis of the potential pool of families to recruit from. The pool of prospective adoptive families should be cultivated to meet the needs of the waiting children.

Foster Parent Banquet Program Stark County


PCSAO Recruitment Guide

Challenges or obstacles you might encounter?

Organizational challenges or obstacles may include: • lack of funding; lack of staff (especially staff with special skills needed to recruit, such as marketing and public relations) • lack of organizational commitment to the need for recruitment • lack of time for staff to develop and consistently implement an effective recruitment program • community weaknesses such as poverty, transience, lack of education, lack of supportive resources, etc.

How much funding do you have?

The specific level of funding available for recruitment depends on each county’s individual budgetary situation and the level of organizational commitment to making aggressive recruitment a priority. Local counties should aggressively lobby state and federal government representatives to make funding foster care and adoption recruitment a priority.

How to do recruitment with no funding?

Having money to print attractive materials is great; however, recruitment is ultimately about building relationships with your community and fostering understanding for kids in care. While having funding would of course enable a county to undertake a comprehensive recruitment campaign which could include paid advertising, direct mail and other such tactics, there are some recruitment techniques that require little or no funding. These include free media through proactive media relations, e-communications and social media. Outreach activities may also be very cost effective, such as having a recruitment presence at various community events or at local libraries, churches, etc. In addition, it may be possible to fund various recruitment events and activities totally (or in part) through aggressive solicitation of business sponsors. Develop personal relationships with local clergy and seek out opportunities to work within their congregations to develop potential foster/adoptive families. Stark County Adoption Calendar


PCSAO Recruitment Guide

Types of recruitment General recruitment:

This involves reaching mass audiences through media and public outreach programs. These include public events, public service announcements, billboards, foster care and adoption fairs, booths at county fairs or sporting events, etc. This is the most common recruitment effort.

Street Banner - Athens County

Billboard and bus sign - Stark County

Pitfalls: Many times unsuitable applicants respond since the recruitment is generic and not childspecific. Many times the applicants aren’t willing to take the specific kinds of children that are in need of families. Cultural issues can also impact the outcome. For example, the advertisement may be appealing to a middle-class white family but not to a Latino family.

Best usage: When attempting to raise your agency’s public profile and broaden community awareness of the need for foster families. Specific examples from Athens County include: • Flyers for information meetings at libraries, community centers, gas stations, etc. • Information meetings allow for contact with an agency staff person and the ability to get questions answered. • Focusing on different professions by sending coloring pages, fliers, and other information about your agency to day care centers, pediatrician offices, veterinary offices, etc.


Coloring Page - Athens County

PCSAO Recruitment Guide

Child Specific/Sibling Groups

This involves a search for relatives, close friends, or kinship providers that the child already knows. It can also be used when the agency has identified a child that is difficult to place due to difficult behaviors, impairments or other conditions that may require special care. Pitfalls: Individualized planning is critical and this can get very costly. Best usage: When attempting to locate a family for a specific child. For example, if you are trying to find a family for a medically fragile child, you may want to contact support groups and associations related to the condition or disease. Direct mailer targeted for sibling groups Likewise, identify the child’s special skills, talents or hobbies. For instance, if the child loves horses you could do child specific recruitment by reaching out to a local Horsemanship Group or a ranch.


This focuses on the specific kinds of children in need of temporary and permanent homes in your community. It also involves reviewing the types of families your agency has licensed and /or approved. Based upon these assessments, your agency will target its recruitment efforts on the need. The focus is on the kinds of children available to be fostered or adopted and targeting the types of families needed for these children. Pitfalls: Need to have accurate data regarding the children and families, as well as the ability to research the data. This can be time consuming depending on your agency’s data structure. Best usage: This has been proven to be most effective in locating the right kinds of families for particular children that need to be placed. This type of recruitment effort can be child-specific and yet go to a Direct mailer targeted for teens mass market. For example, if the majority of children in your agency’s care are adolescents, recruitment efforts can target families willing to care for older children. (ex: local schools, churches, gyms, community centers).


PCSAO Recruitment Guide

With some research, you can get a solid picture of the potential families in your community. Most families have different financial means, religious and cultural identities, educational backgrounds, as well as lifestyles, ages, values, housing circumstances (rent vs. own), and organizational memberships. Information can be obtained from or local resources.

Child Centered

Child Centered Recruitment is an aggressive approach to find permanent families for waiting children. Child Centered Recruiters (CCRs) advocate for biological relative connections (when safe), work with youth who have concerns about permanency and recruit families for adoption. Relatives are located by means of asking the children who they remember, mining the child’s records, utilizing Internet search engines, Facebook, writing letters to relatives asking for other names, etc. CCRs advocate for permanency by providing support and information to the case manager, treatment teams and/or the court.

Large vinyl banner ~Athens County

CCRs take creative approaches to present the youth for adoption through use of videos, information packets, flyers, etc. CCRs work one-on-one with the youth on their lifebooks, recruitment materials, and concerns about reconnecting with their biological family and/or their openness to adoption. CCRs help families, workers and youth through the adoption process as additional support. Summit County Adoption Month newspaper insert


PCSAO Recruitment Guide

Recruitment Materials & Resources

The variety of materials (tactics) available to recruiters is endless. • Direct mailings • Paid advertising in print/electronic/transit media • Positive media relations • Agency and recruitment web sites • Internet advertising • Foster Care and Adoption information meetings • Exhibits at community events (including Foster Care and Adoption Month events) • Information dinners • Mixers (bowling mixers, virtual mixers, etc.) • Annual adoption calendar • Inquiry packets • Brochures/flyers • Promotional items (with the inquiry line/web address clearly displayed) Web-based channels, including AdoptUSKids are childspecific and no cost to your agency. If you have community or civic groups that have web sites, ask about posting info about a child on the site (i.e., a site for the autism community might be willing to feature info on an autistic child who needs a family). A special audience needing a unique approach is the faithbased community. In Summit County, a dedicated ‘tool kit’ tailored to church leaders and their congregations has been very helpful in reaching this motivated audience. Even without significant funds, caseworkers can establish relationships with local clergy and ask for opportunities to speak to congregants at meetings (women’s group, men’s group, etc.) or from the pulpit. Create bookmarks with information on the copier and get permission to distribute them at the church. Agencies with a recruiting budget could consider having hand fans made with recruiting information (which tend to run about $1 apiece).


PCSAO Recruitment Guide

Stark County Internet skyscraper ad

Each agency’s needs, budget and available staff time will dictate what materials to use. Here are samples from Summit County: Direct Mail – the graphics used invoke the message that the agency needs families to care for teens and siblings. Foster Care & Adoption Information Meetings – held approximately every two weeks throughout the year at various locations in the community (libraries, churches, community centers, etc.). Promotional ads run in corresponding daily and weekly newspapers; flyers are distributed to school students in corresponding neighborhoods (school districts); and event information is prominently featured on the agency’s web site. Recruitment for Specific Groups – 2012 Adoption Calendar features children in PC age 12+; multi-page Adoption Insert (inserted into a newspaper or magazine) features children in PC age 12+; monthly child feature in a daily or weekly newspaper; or Teen Adoption Mixer (or Virtual/Video Mixer).

Internet Marketing * Facebook * County websites * Twitter * YouTube * Reach Local (Internet Advertising and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)


* AdoptUsKids * Agency websites * Ohio Adoption Photo Listing (OAPL) * Wendy’s Wonderful Kids * NACAC (North American Council on Adoptable Children) * Northeast Ohio Adoption Services (NOAS)


PCSAO Recruitment Guide

How to develop an action plan? Start by identifying the following: • What are your needs (i.e., # homes needed, types of children needing homes, etc.)? • What are your goals? • Who is your target audience? Define by demographics: age, gender, race, zip code, income level, etc. • Who are your supporters? • Who/what are your detractors? • What assets are available to you? • What hurdles exist? • What strategies can you use to reach your target audience? • What tactics are effective in reaching your target audience? • How will you measure your success/failure? • Foster Care/Adoption Recruitment Plan-ODJFS requirement You may also wish to view the recruitment plans and strategies for the different counties in SACWIS.

How long should the action plan cover? Typically such recruitment/marketing plans cover a calendar year for purposes of event planning, media buying, mailings, special events, etc. Athens County Children Services uses a one year calendar format (example: July 2011June 2012) to correlate with the fiscal year of spending our recruitment money. They divide their action steps up by month, to help guide and prepare for projects. Summit County suggests a 12 month campaign/plan is not possible or feasible, then focus recruitment activities at key times of the year: • April - Child & Family Awareness Month/Child Abuse Prevention Month • May – National Foster Care Month • September – Kinship Appreciation Month. • November – National Adoption Awareness Month Ashtabula County focuses on campaigns around our Foster Parent Trainings and the same four key months of the year.


PCSAO Recruitment Guide

Agency inquiry process

Here are the seven steps in the process in Summit County: 1. Make an inquiry (typically via phone/internet) which results in a complete packet of material being sent. NOTE: It is very helpful to have a dedicated ‘Inquiry Phone Line’ in order to ensure quick, appropriate response to such phone inquiries and to track the source of the call to measure success of recruitment vehicles) 2. Attend the required pre-service training; 3. Fill out an application 4. Have a home study completed 5. Identify and select a child for placement; 6. Pre-placement of a child in the home 7. Post-placement of a child in the home. Here is how Athens County describes its inquiry process: 1. INQUIRY Prospective foster and/or adoptive family contacts Athens County Children Services (ACCS) for information and talks to the Recruiter from the Placement Unit. Within seven (7) days, an information packet containing handouts about children available for adoption and the foster care and adoption process is sent, with a cover letter noting the next Information Meeting. 2. INFORMATION MEETING A brief overview of ACCS and specific information about the Adoption and Foster programs, including requirements for each. Attendance is not mandatory, but strongly recommended. 3. REGISTER FOR CLASSES This can be done at the Information Meeting or by calling the Recruiter at ACCS. Classes are free and are available at numerous sites across Southeast Ohio. ACCS hosts preservice classes 2-3 times per year. 4. PRE-SERVICE TRAINING Attendance at 36 hours of pre-service training is mandatory. Information about the date and time for classes will be provided to you in the information packet, and available upon request. 5. APPLICATION Prospective foster and/or adoptive family completes an application and submits it to the Recruiter. Applications and other additional paperwork are provided during pre-service training and are also available upon request.


PCSAO Recruitment Guide

6. HOME STUDY After we receive your completed application, an assessor is assigned and will contact your family to begin the home study process. The home study process includes: * Interviews with and medical evaluations of all household members * Fire Inspection by agency approved inspector and home safety audit * Reference checks * Review of applicant’s child care arrangements * Assessing applicant’s discipline philosophy * Applicants self-assess what child they would want to parent * Credit check – optional * Criminal background checks on all adult household members (BCI & FBI checks) * Copies of marriage and divorce certificates * Proof of vehicle insurance is required and a driving record check * Financial statement, verification of income, tax returns and copies of utility bills Some of these items will need to be turned in with your application. As you move forward in the process, this will be explained in more detail. 7. DECISION If you meet all foster care requirements, ACCS will send its recommendation to the State for licensing as a foster home. If you are seeking to be approved for adoption, ACCS makes the decision as to whether or not to approve your home for adoption. Should ACCS deny recommendation for receiving a foster license or for approval as an adoptive home, the applicant(s) can withdraw from the process, or appeal the agency’s decision. ACCS maintains a database of all inquiries (local, out of state, in state, child specific) Includes: Last Name, First Name, Address, City, State, Zip, Phone #, Inquiry Date, Date Packet Sent, Interest (FC, A, FTA), School District, Race/Ethnicty, Attend Information Meeting, 2nd Notice sent, Attend Preservice, Application Received, Were they Licensed/ Approved, Media Response

Post-licensing support for foster families

After licensing support will look different for each county, based on services and staff! In Summit County’s experience one of the most critical areas of post-licensing support for foster families is communication. This includes responding promptly and efficiently to phone calls from foster families (and providing appropriate community linkages when requested) as well as regular communication (through a monthly Foster Care & Adoption newsletter). Periodic surveys and/or focus groups of foster families is helpful to learn what issues are important to them and to find out what additional services and supports may be needed. Finally, showing foster families the agency’s appreciation is very important and an annual recognition event (during Foster Care month in May) is a good vehicle to accomplish that.


PCSAO Recruitment Guide

Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994

As Amended by the Interethnic Adoption Provisions of 1996

MEPA-IEP is one of several recent federal initiatives and laws aimed at removing the barriers to permanency for the hundreds of thousands of children who are in the child protective system. The specific intentions of MEPA-IEP are to: • decrease the length of time that children wait to be adopted, • facilitate the recruitment and retention of foster and adoptive parents who can meet the distinctive needs of children awaiting placement, and • eliminate discrimination on the basis of the race, color, or national origin of the child or the prospective parent. To achieve these goals, MEPA-IEP has three basic mandates: • It prohibits states and other entities that are involved in foster care or adoption placements, and that receive federal financial assistance under title IV-E, title IV-B, or any other federal program, from delaying or denying a child’s foster care or adoptive placement on the basis of the child’s or the prospective parent’s race, color, or national origin • It prohibits these states and entities from denying to any individual the opportunity to become a foster or adoptive parent on the basis of the prospective parent’s or the child’s race, color, or national origin • It requires that, to remain eligible for federal assistance for their child welfare programs, states must diligently recruit foster and adoptive parents who reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the children in the state who need foster and adoptive homes.


PCSAO Recruitment Guide

What should be in an information packet sent to inquirers? Athens County Children Services sends the following packet to inquirers: All Inquiries: _____ Cover Letter _____ Agency brochure Foster Care Inquiries: _____ Foster Care Welcome _____ Foster Parenting Is It Right For You? Brochure _____ Financial information Adoption Inquiries: _____ Adoption Policies and Procedures _____ Adoption Process: Where Do We Go From Here? _____ Ohio Adoption Guide (ODJFS) _____ Ohio Subsidy Guide (ODJFS) _____ We’re Glad You Asked About Adoption brochure Foster to Adopt Inquiries: _____ Foster to Adopt Placements Brochure Foster AND Adoption Inquiries: _____ Thinking About Becoming a Foster Parent or Adopting a Waiting Child? (ODJFS) _____ Adoption and Foster Care Stats _____ Licensing/Approval Process


PCSAO Recruitment Guide

_____ Schedule of Classes _____ ACCS Magnet _____MEPA Standards of Conduct and Non-discrimination Requirements for Foster Care and Adoptive Placements _____ Children in Athens County Waiting for Forever Families brochure Summit County utilizes a one-pocket folder that contains step-down sheets with detailed information. The folder itself is designed with general information about the agency. There is a die-cut slit in the pocket for the Recruitment DVD. The step-down sheets are as follows: * Pre-Service Training Schedule – typically offer six series each year * FAQs * How to Become a Foster or Foster-to-Adopt Parent (step-by-step process) * Adoptive Parenting (explanation, qualifications, needs, etc.) * Foster Parenting (explanation, qualifications, needs, etc.) * Waiting Children (explains families can view child profiles on the agency’s website) * Message from Executive Director


PCSAO Recruitment Guide

PCSAO Recruitment Guide