As I get older, I think about what I can be doing with the time I have left. I also think about the Agencies who are trying to recruit families for foster care and how I can better serve them. 

I remember an exercise I did out of the book, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People by Steven Covey.

In the chapter, “Begin with the end in mind”, Covey has you go through an exercise imaging that you are in a casket. As people attend, he wants you to ask yourself what each one would say about you.

While this is a powerful exercise, I think that you can use this principle in RECRUITING FOSTER PARENTS!

How can you use such a powerful and somewhat disturbing exercise to become a better recruiter of foster parents? Well, the way I see it is that you may be doing a lot of activities related to recruiting, but how often do you ask yourself what you want your end result to be?

If you’re planning an event, imagine the finished product. Ask yourself: What will it look like after we have set up the booths, canopies and put out all the materials? How will we be interpreted? What will people feel when they see our display? And what will make people interested in what we’re doing?  What experience will people have when they talk with us? Are we interested in them? Will they feel welcomed? Or will they feel judged?

Steven Covey says, “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination.”

Before you take any action, you should seek to envision what your finished task or project will look like. Oftentimes you may have an idea and you’ll just go about doing it. But what is more important is to get a vision of the finished product! Otherwise you may end up doing a lot but with very little to show for it. Covey says, “It is possible to be busy- very busy -without being very effective.”  

I believe that everything we accomplish is “created twice.” Think about that concept for a moment… It may seem simple but look at the table you’re sitting at or the computer or book you are reading; it had to be created twice for it to exist!  Someone imagined it and then it was made into existence. 

In a larger sense, you can use this paradigm to ask yourself how you want your parents, employees, and the community to think about your Agency. People are going to think something, so what do you want them to think and feel about you? Imagining and thinking about how you are perceived and the actions you can take to shape their thoughts and feelings are within your grasp. 

In my Agency, before we plan our annual Christmas party, we try to envision the experience we want our foster parents and children to have. This will determine what activities we’ll have and where we’ll position the games, food and photo booths. We want to make the event as stress-free as possible, so we set clear expectations with our team and work hard to create a festive, appreciative program.

This concept also works when working on more complex projects. Recently, we launched a program to deliver clothes and other essentials to homeless high schoolers in our area. Before its launch, we put a communication system in place between the school counselors/administrators and our agency. We also needed to think through how we were going to order and deliver the goods. When we had a plan in place, we met with the school personnel and asked for their feedback. The program we created ended up being an invaluable service to our local youth with little added stress to our Agency.

Creating twice does take more effort, but you’ll get far better results if you approach any task with the end goal in mind.

You will need to be clear and define your objectives. What outcomes do you want to achieve? Some examples of thinking this through in recruiting are:

  • What kind of parent do you want to recruit?
  • How much money will it take?
  • What kind of research do you need to do?
  • Who will do the work and what products do you need for the venture?

The principle of two creations will require taking responsibility. But once you take responsibility for what is happening in your area, you will begin to see successful recruiting results!

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