“Everything is hard before it is easy” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
It has been my philosophy since my first year as a CEO of a foster agency that I need to make the act of recruiting easier and easier. I had not heard Goethe’s quote until last month, but it certainly resonates with me.
I have said for years that my goal in relation to recruiting foster parents is to “make the hard easy.”
When I’ve made this statement to my staff and other agencies in our community, they typically shoot me back a look that communicates, “Are you kidding me?” I am not kidding; nor do I think recruiting needs to be as difficult and as stressful as people make it out to be.
I can say without a doubt that recruiting has not been the most difficult thing I have ever done. Working in 100% humidity with water up to my knees and rocks falling from the ceiling, a half mile underground, and a mile deep into a mountain tunnel is difficult. Working in minus -35° weather in Gore Canyon, Colorado laying train track is difficult.
So how do we make the hard easy when it comes to recruiting foster parents?
Here is what we’ve done:
- Get clear on and understand why people want to be foster parents.
- Make yourself visible, whether it is on the internet highway or your local busy street.
- Erase barriers for your potentials to become foster parents.
- Have your staff treat all potential and existing foster parents with respect and care.
- Create a process that is simple.
- Follow through with integrity on everything from your appointments to any agreements you have made with the new potential parents.
- Make the process as quick as possible. Many times, people act on impulse and it is important to engage the new potentials as soon as possible.
- When your parents are certified, place a respite child or a child in their home within the first 3 months.
- Retain your parents. Retention is recruitment. You lose money, time, and energy every time you have to replace a foster parent.
In essence Goethe was right, “everything is hard before it is easy.”
There are things that make it easier though. These things, in my experience, are studying, experimenting with marketing ideas, and following through and caring about the families that you have.
This all may sound simple, but recruiting truly isn’t complex. Another great philosopher/mathematician said, “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.” – Albert Einstein
I live by this quote. I know that complexity is too difficult to carry out over a long period of time. You only need to look at governmental organizations to prove this point. The people within those organizations regularly tell us that we are lucky to be working outside of the system. It is so much harder for them to accomplish the same things we are because of the complex processes and regulations found in their organizations.
Make your recruiting systems simple and focus on making the hard – easy.