Child-specific recruitment 101
As you work to find families for children and youth in foster care, you have a range of recruitment strategies at your disposal—including general, targeted, and child-specific recruitment.
Child-specific recruitment focuses on recruiting or identifying foster, adoptive, and kinship families for individual children in foster care based on the individual child’s needs, interests, and connections.
Before you start looking for families using a child-specific recruitment strategy, be sure that you have a comprehensive child assessment and have discussed with them—in a developmentally appropriate way—what they should expect from the recruitment activities and experiences. Talk with them about what information they feel comfortable having shared publicly, where the information will be shared, and what groups of people are likely to see it. As always, ensure that any information you share publicly respects their privacy, dignity, and safety.
And, as is developmentally appropriate, involve the child in the selection and implementation of the recruitment efforts being done on their behalf.
Types of child-specific recruitment
Child-specific recruitment can take many forms, including:
- Featuring children in specific recruitment activities, such as Wednesday’s Child or other features in newspapers or on television news.
- Permanency roundtables.
- Family-finding efforts to connect with relatives and fictive kin. This can include conducting case-file mining and talking with the child and people who know them to identify possible contacts who could either be a resource for the child or who may be able to identify and connect the agency with other important adults in their life.
- Reaching out to groups that have specific expertise that relate to the child’s needs (e.g., parents of children with autism, special education teachers) or specific shared interests with the child (e.g., artists, veterinarians).
- Empowering children and teens to suggest strategies for recruiting or identifying potential families.
Although child-specific recruitment is most commonly used to recruit adoptive or kinship families for children in foster care, it can also be used to find foster parents for children.
Benefits of child-specific recruitment
Some child-specific recruitment strategies can have a secondary benefit of raising public awareness about the need for families for children in foster care. For example, public photolisting profiles and media features can help the public learn more about who the children in foster care are and their need for foster and adoptive families. However, it is important to ensure that when using child-specific recruitment strategies, the primary focus is on finding a family for that child in a respectful way rather than having them serve as a representative for other children in foster care.
Resource for preparing children for adoption
To build a solid foundation in transitioning a child from foster care to adoption, we recommend using the National Resource Center for Adoption’s Adoption Competency Curriculum (scroll down to view). 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.