Resource | Report

Diligent Recruitment of Families for Children in the Foster Care System: Challenges and Recommendations for Policy and Practice

Project: Technical Assistance on Evaluation for Discretionary Grant Programs

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More than 400,000 children are in foster care in the United States, and about one-third remain there for at least a year.

To ensure permanent homes for them, child welfare agencies need a pool of skilled and effective foster and adoptive parents. Yet half of states lost foster home capacity from 2012 to 2017.

Diligent recruitment is the process of recruiting, retaining, and supporting foster parents—also known as resource parents—who reflect the diversity of children who need placements. Agencies must address systemic obstacles to identifying resource parents, moving them through the licensing process, ensuring they have support to successfully care for children, and retaining them over time.

This paper is intended to help child welfare directors, program managers, and staff improve diligent recruitment practices and services to resource families, with the goal of improving permanency and well-being outcomes for children in out-of-home placement. Drawing on research and the experiences of Children’s Bureau grantees, it presents solutions to common challenges, identifies lessons learned during implementation, and offers suggestions for improvement.