The tendency in foster family recruitment is to take a generalized approach that includes some media marketing, event marketing and offering referral incentives. The failure in this broad-brush approach is found in the fact that we are not reaching specific groups of people with an appeal that connects to their unique values or needs.
Throughout the United States there is a tremendous need to recruit foster parents who will serve teenagers and children who are in the TFC programs and ISFC programs. My team and I realized this problem in our agency and decided to create a specific strategy to recruit parents for teenagers, and our ISFC program. Our regular recruitment methods were not effectively reaching the unique group of individuals who would be welcoming of teenagers and willing to take on the training and challenges of a child needing an Intensive Treatment program.
We followed 4 steps to create a strategy to reach and recruit in a specific target group
1. Do Your Homework!
We read and reviewed the latest research and articles that addressed this issue. From that research, we identified two groups of people to pursue: teachers and group home employees.
2. Combine the New with the Old
We synthesized this new information into the knowledge and experience we already had by being in the field over 25 years. This step in the process is crucial. If you cannot integrate what you are learning into what you already know, you will end up slipping back by default, into what you already know.
3. Take an Educated Guess
Next, we established a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a fancy way of making an educated guess. If we do A and B we expect to get C. This allowed us to get focused and creative on the ways we could approach these unique groups (those individuals we think would be ideal potential foster parents).
4. Map out the Plan
We wrote out a vision plan that defined our strategy and included an action plan. In order to be valid, the strategy must translate into an actionable plan. We also took the additional step to identify the barriers we might encounter and developed plans to overcome them. We implemented the plan by assigning tasks to each team member and outlining accountabilities.
Implementing and Adjusting
As we implement the plan we will need to keep our eyes on testing the hypothesis. We very seldom get things right on the first try. The beauty of working from an educated guess is that we can reformat that guess with other factors if we discover that A and B are not producing C. With enough tinkering and measuring we will eventually discover the right formula to produce the results we want or need. We just need to create a strategy, work a plan, measure the results and keep adjusting until we start seeing what we expect.