Child-specific recruitment strategies help recruit foster, adoptive, and kinship families for specific children and youth in foster care. These strategies begin with a comprehensive child assessment and preparation process. Every effort should be made to involve the child as developmentally appropriate.
To build this solid foundation in transitioning a child from foster care to adoption, we recommend you use the National Resource Center for Adoption’s Adoption Competency Curriculum . This curriculum focuses on some of the common issues and challenges that occur, and emphasizes the roles of child welfare practitioners, foster and adoptive parents, and relatives.
Once you have a solid foundation on how to transition a child from foster care to adoption, you can build on that knowledge to develop contacts who might be — or may know of — potential resources for a child needing a foster, adoptive, or kinship placement. This can include relatives and other important people in the child‘s life, including seeking interjurisdictional placement options.
- Conduct intensive case-file mining for children and youth when a permanent placement has not been identified. This includes talking with older youth to explore past connections and important relationships with supportive adults who might be able to provide permanency now, even if they weren’t able to in the past. The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections has valuable resources available on family search and engagement .
- Feature children and youth on photolisting services that approved foster and adoptive parents can use to learn about — and inquire about — children and youth on your caseload. Find out more about how to photolist and manage cases using our free photolisting services and read our publication Lasting Impressions: A Guide for Photolisting Children (PDF – 615KB).
- Search for family matches by using the AdoptUSKids’ Find a Family tool. The Find a Family tool (registration required) lets you search for approved families who could be a good match for a specific child based on the child’s characteristics and needs.
- Use social media tools as part of family finding efforts to identify and connect with kin, such as how New York City uses Facebook and other tools to search for relatives.
- Use local media partnerships such as Wednesday’s Child for featuring a child, youth, or sibling group in care that needs an adoptive family. For more details on how to work effectively with the media, see our Media Toolkit for Child Welfare Leaders (PDF – 565 KB).
- Develop a Heart Gallery, a traveling exhibit of high quality, compelling photographs capturing the unique personalities of children and youth in your agency’s care who are waiting to be adopted. Heart Gallery of America, Inc. has valuable resources and tips for organizing successful Heart Galleries.
- Create presentations with youth using technology such as PowerPoint and iMovie that can bring the personalities and stories of youth to life in their own words, pictures, and graphics. These presentations can be used at recruitment events and on your website. The Three Rivers Adoption Council (TRAC) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has such a program called TRAC’s Older Child Presentations.
- Use specialists to search for relatives and kin, such as engaging private investigators to help find relatives and other adults who may have lost touch with a child but may now be able to provide permanency to the child. A great example of how to use this approach is Extreme Recruitment, a Diligent Recruitment grantee project through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau. The Extreme Recruitment program, one of the Children’s Bureau’s 2008 Diligent Recruitment grantees, has developed a Toolbox of resources on its Extreme Recruitment approach to finding a permanent home for a child in a fraction of the time it would normally take. The toolbox includes a timeline to guide family identification activities, and many examples of forms, templates, and materials that the program uses to implement its approach.
Hire and support foster care alumni to work as recruiters. Operation Forever Family (a program of Bethany Christian Services) hires older youth and young adults who have been in foster care to work as “Been There, Done That” (BTDT) recruiters. The BTDT recruiters all experienced foster care as teens or older youth and either aged out of care or were adopted. This personal experience often allows them to form unique relationships with youth currently in care for whom they are recruiting.
BTDT recruiters work 20–25 hours per week providing an additional child-specific recruitment service for select youth who are at risk of aging out of care. Part of their work involves going out into the community to engage in strategic recruitment activities based on the unique and specific needs and interests of individual youth.
Read more about “Been There, Done That.”
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