Foster Home Estimator: Helping Child Welfare Agencies Plan for Family Recruitment
Child welfare agencies have an urgent need for caring, committed foster parents. A new tool, the Foster Home Estimator, can help agencies build a more robust pool of foster parents by more accurately estimating how many additional foster homes are needed, especially for specific populations of children, such as teens or large sibling groups.
The estimator was tested and enhanced through years of collaboration between public agencies and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Our teams of consultants have worked hand in hand with administrators, staff and case workers — plus foster and kin caregivers — to determine how best to estimate the need for foster homes,” says Tracey Feild, who directs the Foundation’s child welfare work. The estimator dovetails with Casey’s foster parent Recruitment, Development and Support approach, which applies modern techniques to encouraging more community members to serve as foster parents.
Judy Wildfire of Wildfire Associates, who developed the estimator with national consultant Denise Goodman, notes the tool has been refined to help agencies target recruitment by geography, age, race and national origin. This helps agencies meet the requirements of the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act and the Indian Child Welfare Act.
“The estimator is best used as part of efforts to improve how your agency is meeting the needs of kids and families,” says Wildfire. “Use it to stimulate rich discussions about agency policies, practices and aspirations. Kids really need foster parents. The estimator is a key step in locating and supporting these critically important caregivers.”