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Develop and Support Families

Tools and Resources


Our tools, publications, and other resources can help you as you develop and implement your strategies for developing and supporting families for children and youth.

Using Integrated Recruitment and Support to Build a Strong Pool of Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Families

This publication presents a vision for integrated recruitment, development, and support of families, including highlighting the benefits of an integrated approach and offering strategies to move toward more integrated recruitment and support. The publication also gives tips on using data effectively as part of feedback loops, addresses specific considerations for various structures of state and tribal child welfare systems, and highlights examples and ideas from the field.

Download Using Integrated Recruitment and Support to Build a Strong Pool of Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Families (PDF – 139 KB).

Support Matters: Lessons from the Field on Services for Adoption, Foster, and Kinship Care Families

This comprehensive publication highlights successful family support efforts of 31 programs throughout the country. It provides guidance on using support services to help with both recruitment and support of families; assessing the support needs of families; using data to demonstrate the value of support services; and successfully implementing support services.

Download Support Matters (PDF - 2 MB).

See tip sheets, excerpts, and more information from the Support Matters publication.

Improving Family Development and Support through Customer Service

Defining Customer Service for Child Welfare

One possible definition for customer service that incorporates the ideas described above and could be applied to both internal and external customers in child welfare is:

customer service: customers’ perceptions of the way they are treated, the responsiveness of the services provided, and the extent to which they are engaged in teamwork to meet the needs of children and youth

The term “customer” applied within child welfare may seem simplistic and a little off-putting to some child welfare professionals and families. In order for this application of a customer service framework to work in the child welfare field, we must recognize and honor the fact that child welfare work is different and much more complex than the traditional business of selling products or services. Foster, adoptive, and kinship families—and certainly child welfare staff—don’t usually perceive themselves as customers. Families’ roles are unique to child welfare and evolve over time, ideally, to becoming team members and partners. Knowing this, it is essential to respect and treat families as customers first, as a key step to helping develop trusting professional relationships and partnerships between families and an agency. In short, good customer service should be seen as the foundation to building relationships that result in safety, timely permanency, and well-being for the children and youth served.

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.

Five Things You Can Do to Improve Customer Service — Phone Interaction With Families (PDF – 186 KB)
Suggests simple steps for improving customer service as you interact with current and prospective foster, adoptive, and kinship families.

10 Things You Can Do to Improve Customer Service Prospective Parent Orientation Sessions (PDF – 201 KB)
Offers simple ideas for creating a more welcoming and encouraging climate at orientations for prospective parents.

Every Month Is Customer Service Month (PDF – 107 KB)
Offers ideas for simple ways to partner more effectively with prospective and current parents by integrating customer service principles in your daily work.

Barriers and Success Factors in Adoption from Foster Care: Perspectives of Families and Staff (PDF – 2.1 MB)
An AdoptUSKids report on barriers experienced by a nationwide group of families seeking to adopt children and youth from the U.S. foster care system and factors that contribute to successful adoption outcomes.

Creating and Sustaining Effective Respite Services: Lessons from the Field (PDF – 1MB) / En Espanol (PDF – 1.6 MB)
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 – 2MB) / 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.

Barriers and Success Factors in Adoption from Foster Care: Perspectives of Families and Staff (Flash – 16:23 min.)
An AdoptUSKids report on barriers experienced by a nationwide group of families seeking to adopt children and youth from the U.S. foster care system and factors that contribute to successful adoption outcomes. [Report (PDF – 2.1 MB) Full report to Congress (PDF – 1 MB)]

Barriers and Success Factors in Adoption from Foster Care: Perspectives of Lesbian and Gay Families (PDF – 2.1 MB)
A follow-up report to Barriers and Success Factors in Adoption from Foster Care: Perspectives of Families and Staff by AdoptUSKids exploring realities of adoption for lesbian and gay families.

Understanding Foster Parenting: Using Administrative Data to Explore Retention
A study by Research Triangle Institute International to understand foster parent retention and characteristics with various lengths of service in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Oregon.

Other Resources

First Impressions: The Power of an Effective Response System

This 2016 webinar addresses the importance of planning, implementing, and continuously assessing your system for responding to resource family inquiries as an integral component of your integrated diligent recruitment process. Presenters provide an overview of key concepts related to effective response systems and discuss ways in which your response system offers a critical opportunity to set resource family expectations and provide consistent, timely information. They also offer examples of concrete steps that child welfare systems can take to improve their response system and connect it to other aspects of their work to recruit, develop, and support families.

View the webinar recording on our YouTube channel
Read more about the webinar and access related materials

Support Matters: Strategies for Implementing Family Support Services

This webinar addresses the importance of post-placement support for meeting the needs of children and families, as well as ways that providing family support services can strengthen efforts to recruit and prepare resource families. Presenters discuss different types of support services, approaches to partnerships for providing support services, assessing the need for support, and strategies for implementation of support services.

View the webinar on our YouTube channel
Download the PowerPoint presentation (PDF – 3 MB)

Improving Child Welfare Outcomes through Family Engagement: Using Customer Service Concepts to Recruit and Develop Families

This webinar addresses how customer service concepts can be applied to child welfare systems to strengthen efforts to recruit and develop resource families to meet the needs of children and youth in care. Presenters discuss the benefits of engaging and supporting different groups of key stakeholders ("customers"), including child welfare staff and prospective and current foster, adoptive, and kinship families.

View the webinar on our YouTube channel
Download the PowerPoint presentation in English (PDF – 1.2 MB) and in Spanish (PDF – 2 MB)

AdoptUSKids Family Intake Tracking Tool
This tool (requires log-in) provides child welfare professional easy access to the names of families who have contacted AdoptUSKids from their state and indicated an interest in fostering or adopting from foster care. Professionals can also use the tool to log and track families who contact their state directly.

Providing Background Information to Adoptive Parents
This bulletin for child welfare professionals from Child Welfare Information Gateway outlines the legal responsibility and benefits of providing background information to adoptive families about prospective children and youth. It also addresses the information that families should be provided and how to help them understand it.

National Resource Center for Adoption Roundtable Focuses on Adoption Support and Preservation Services
A 2013 edition of The Roundtable (PDF – 772 KB) newsletter, produced by the National Resource Center for Adoption, focuses on adoption support and preservation services. The articles offer an overview of current research and best practice information, and provide detailed program examples. The edition also includes a tip sheet for practitioners and supervisors.

Curriculum to Strengthen Couple Relationships of Foster and Adoptive Parents
The Coalition for Children, Youth, and Families in Wisconsin has a curriculum, Our Home Our Family, developed through an Adoption Opportunities grant from the Children’s Bureau. It was designed as a tool to help foster and adoptive couples build long-term, positive relationships and stay emotionally connected with each other and with the children and youth in their care.

Materials to Conduct a Workshop on Caring for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was established by Congress to improve access to care, treatment, and services for traumatized children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events. One of the many resources the network offers is materials for conducting the workshop.

Caring for Children Who Have Experienced Trauma: A Workshop for Resource Parents.
The curriculum for the workshop includes nine case studies of representative foster children ages eight months to 15 years old, and cases of secondary traumatic stress in parents. The design of the workshop allows a mental health professional and foster parent to be co-facilitators. The complete workshop package includes a facilitator’s guide, participant handbook, multi-part slide kit, and supplemental resources including facilitator guidelines, tips from experienced trainers, and tips on adapting the curriculum for birth parents.

Overview of State Training (PDF – 135 KB): Provides information about each state’s training requirements and curriculum used for foster parent training (current as of July 2015)

Searchable Catalog of Pre- and Post-adoption/Guardianship Interventions and Programs
The National Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship Support and Preservation (QIC-AG) Intervention and Program Catalog is a tool for child welfare service providers and agencies to identify evidence-informed programs and promising practices that can be used to address pre- and post-permanency needs of families formed through public, private, and international adoption and guardianship. The catalog includes almost 150 interventions and programs which can be searched by title, age range, relevance to adoption and guardianship, level of evidence, and pre- or post- permanency population.

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