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Strategies to Retain Foster
and Adoptive Parents
Developing strategies to retain foster, adoptive, and kinship families is the key to ensuring your agency’s recruitment efforts produce a sufficient pool of families for children in foster care.
Retention involves supporting both prospective and current foster, adoptive, and kinship families. To do this more successfully at your agency, use some or all of the strategies below:
- Integrate Good Customer Services Principles Into Your Work With Families
- Use Process Mapping to Examine How Your Agency Works With Families
- Develop Respite Care Partnerships With Parent Support Groups
- Establish Procedures for Placement Disruptions
Need retention training for your agency? We can help you implement these strategies and more. Find out about our free consulting services for public agencies.
Principles of good customer service capture the essence of what helps to support and retain families. Retention, at its core, is fundamentally about treating people well, meeting their needs, and providing encouragement all the way from pre-service training through post placement services. Below are two great resources on how to integrate customer service into your work.
- Using Customer Service Concepts to Enhance Recruitment and Retention Practices (PDF – 852 KB): This publication provides child welfare agency leaders with an overview of customer service concepts that can help with recruitment and retention of foster, adoptive, and kinship families. It also serves as a guide for agency leaders in assessing, developing, and implementing relevant policies and practices to support good customer service.
- Treat Them Like Gold: A Best Practice Guide to Partnering With Resource Families (PDF – 3.9 MB) by the North Carolina Division of Social Services.
If you want tailored assistance on how to integrate customer service principles into your recruitment and retention work, we offer free consulting services for public agencies.
Use process mapping to examine your agency’s process for prospective parents from responding to inquiries to conducting licensures and home studies. Exploring the process from both the agency's perspective and the prospective parent's point-of-view helps identify potential barriers or slow-down points that may hurt your efforts to recruit and retain parents.
We provide free tailored services on process mapping for public agencies. Find out more about our free consulting services for public agencies.
Develop respite care partnerships with parent support groups. These partnerships provide much-needed respite care options for foster, adoptive, and kinship families while ensuring the care provided is designed in ways that are responsive to the specific needs of parents and children.
Learn more about how to form these partnerships by reading our two publications:
- Creating and Sustaining Effective Respite Services: Lessons from the Field (PDF – 1MB): This guide is intended to help States, Tribes, and parent support organizations understand the value of respite care in achieving improved outcomes for parents and youth, and build their capacity to sustain such programs after time-limited grants have ended.
- Taking a Break: Creating Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Respite In your Community (PDF – 1.9MB) / En Español (PDF – 1.4 MB): This publication is a step-by-step manual for developing a respite program, including sample forms that groups can use in the day-to-day operation of their programs.
Establishing procedures for handling placement disruptions in a foster home helps staff and families know what to expect. By having a clear procedure outlined, agencies can reduce the confusion and uncertainty foster parents may feel when a child needs to be moved unexpectedly. This ensures foster parents feel their thoughts and voices are heard as part of the process.
An example of placement disruption procedures are the Unplanned Transfer Conferences (PDF – 15 KB) the New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth, and Families uses to facilitate conversations among its staff and foster parents about what happened in a particular situation and what could have been done better.