E-Notes, the monthly newsletter from the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids.
National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids / E-Notes

In our work with states and tribes, we hear child welfare professionals express a great deal of interest in innovative approaches that other systems are using to recruit, develop, and support resource families. This issue of E-Notes highlights several new ideas from the field that states and tribes can consider adapting to fit their system’s unique strengths, needs, and context.

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Ideas from the field

Visit the NRCDR website to access more information about each of the following new ideas from the field for recruiting, developing, and supporting resource families:

  1. Plan a treasure hunt event to help staff learn about and engage with a community.
    Allegheny County’s (PA) child welfare agency used data to identify a geographic community from which many older youth come into care. As part of its efforts to recruit foster families in these communities in order to allow more children in foster care to remain in their home communities, Allegheny County sought to strengthen relationships for its recruiters—including contracted private agency staff—with members of these communities. Allegheny County planned a community experience treasure hunt event, “Foster Goodness,” for agency staff and contracted provider staff responsible for recruiting homes for teens. The goals of the event included helping staff to: change any negative attitudes about the community; develop a truer understanding of the community and its history; and establish relationships in the community to support recruitment of new resource homes for teens.

    Here’s how it worked:

    • The treasure hunt began in a meeting space set up as a mock community environment, where participants received directions and information about the “Foster Goodness” experience.
    • Participants were grouped into teams and wore “Foster Goodness” t-shirts to make them visible in the community.
    • Community leaders, including the mayor, were present to provide encouragement as teams embarked on the treasure hunt. Businesses, organizations, and community leaders greeted the teams. The local school, police department, and fire department were also involved.
    • Each team received a set of instructions that included map cards containing directions and clues they used in visiting specific destinations. At each destination, they took a photo, obtained an item, or collected information to respond to a question. A helpline was made available to provide teams with additional clues as needed.
    • The treasure hunt required that teams walk around, explore, and have conversations with people in the community. Teams had two to three hours to complete the treasure hunt and then returned to the meeting location to debrief the experience.

    Read more about this idea.

  2. Pair prospective and new resource families with experienced resource families.
    Experienced foster, adoptive, and kinship families’ experience and knowledge can be valuable in helping prospective and new resource families develop a stronger understanding of the responsibilities and expectations they may experience when they have a child placed with them. This approach can help build new families’ capacity to meet the needs of children in foster care while also expanding resource families’ support networks. As part of its 2008 Diligent Recruitment Grant from the Children’s Bureau, Kentucky’s Project Match program used a low-cost approach known as Alternative Care Training for supporting and mentoring new families as they go through the licensing process. Read more.
  3. Create connections between agency leadership and resource families.
    Florida’s Foster Home Partnership Building Project connects leadership staff with families as a way to strengthen its relationships and effectiveness in working with both current and future resource families. In this project, people in leadership positions at the agency visited all currently licensed foster homes. Leaders spent time with the families to better understand why they have chosen to foster, learn how to recruit other families, and hear any ideas families have for improving the support and services being offered to resource families. Leadership staff captured the information they learned during these visits to use for future planning. Through these interactions, agency leadership learned firsthand where changes may be needed and the families appreciated the involvement of people at the leadership level. Read more.
  4. Provide proactive, coordinated support to resource families and children and youth immediately after placement.
    The experience of coming into foster care or being placed into a new home may be challenging and traumatic for children and youth. By providing services and sharing information, systems can support children and resource families with the transition. When any child age 3–18 years old in foster care enters foster care or moves placements, New Jersey’s Mobile Response and Stabilization Services (MRSS) is engaged by the child welfare worker, contracted systems administrator, and resource family in a phone meeting to assess the need for services and share information to support the resource family and child. Following this discussion, MRSS has an in-person meeting with the resource parent within 24 hours, at the family’s convenience. During these meetings, information may be provided to help the resource family prevent circumstances and interactions that may trigger a traumatic response in children and to support resource parents in dealing with challenging behaviors. Additionally, MRSS completes an assessment and may arrange for in-home, outpatient, or behavioral health care services for the child. Read more.
  5. Offer 24/7 support to address emotional or behavioral health crises as needed.
    New Jersey’s MRSS provides 24/7 crisis support to all resource families and children and youth in foster care. Resource families can call a hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to request assistance if a child experiences an emotional or behavioral health crisis that causes a disruption in the home. If the resource family provides consent and requests services, the MRSS team visits their home within an hour of the call to provide intervention services and connect them with follow-up services as needed. Read more.

As you consider using any idea from other child welfare systems, we encourage you to think about how you may need to adapt an idea or strategy to make it fit your system’s unique structure, strengths, and dynamics, as well as to explore what will be required to implement something new successfully. We welcome you to write to us to share information about the diligent recruitment strategies that your system is using to develop a pool of resource families that can meet the needs of children and youth in care.

For more ideas from the field, visit the “placement stability and permanency,” "develop and support families,” "diverse populations,” and “for tribes” sections of the NRCDR website.

News and announcements

Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services: joint guidance on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

On October 19, 2016, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services issued a joint guidance letter to state and local child welfare systems on the requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The guidance aims to ensure that child welfare systems know about their responsibilities to protect the civil rights of children and families. The guidance is part of an ongoing partnership between the departments to help child welfare agencies protect the well-being of children and ensure compliance with federal nondiscrimination laws. Last year, the departments issued guidance on the intersection of child welfare requirements and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Additional information on the new guidance is available in English and Spanish.

Guidelines Stating Principles for Working with Federally Recognized Indian Tribes

The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families issued guidelines stating principles for working with federally recognized Indian tribes, effective October 20, 2016. The guidelines include the following sections: (I) “Overarching Principles for Working with Federally Recognized Indian Tribes”; (II) “Consultation and Communication with Tribes”; (III) “Culture and Mutual Respect”; (IV) “Nation-Building and Effective Delivery of Human Services to Indian Communities”; (V) “Coordination and Outreach”; (VI) “Administrative Data Management”; (VII) “Sustainability.”

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AdoptUSKids is operated by the Adoption Exchange Association and is made possible by grant number 90CQ0002 from the Children’s Bureau. The contents of this email are solely the responsibility of the Adoption Exchange Association and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Children’s Bureau, ACYF, ACF, or HHS. The Children’s Bureau funds AdoptUSKids as part of a network of National Resource Centers established by the Children’s Bureau. Find out more about us.

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