A new Casey Foundation report, A Movement to Transform Foster Parenting, explores how public agencies can enlist more individuals and families to become foster parents — and encourage those who now serve to continue their extraordinary commitment.
Foster parents, including kin caregivers, provide much needed love and support to children removed from their homes. But these dedicated individuals need more and better supports to continue in their rewarding, challenging roles. “Foster parents are ordinary people who do extraordinary things for children and families in crisis,” the report says, noting, “It’s long past time to change the ways in which systems and communities partner with foster parents.”
The report identifies three ways agencies and communities can support, engage and empower foster parents:
- Ensure quality caregiving for children: Child welfare system must help foster parents building specialized skills to care for children who have experienced instability and trauma. Caregivers alsoneed ongoing resources, information and support services to help kidsin their homes to grow and thrive.
- Forge strong relationships: Public child welfare agencies and private foster-care providersmust envision and implement a system that engages foster parents as respected partners and promotes the value of foster families.
- Find and keep more amazing caregivers: Agencies must sustain a constantly growing and diverse network of foster parents, find new foster families to replace those who adopt, and explore new technologies and data-driven approaches to identify and recruit eager foster families well suited to meet children’s needs.
Many great ideas currently exist to strengthen partnerships between foster parents and child welfare agencies. A Movement to Transform Foster Parenting provides examples of successful curricula, assessment tools, information systems and recruitment efforts, including:
With the right supports, training and tools, child welfare agencies can improve outcomes for children, while creating rewarding experiences for foster parents.
“We have seen some truly amazing approaches to engaging and supporting foster parents,” says Tracey Feild, director of Casey’s Child Welfare Strategy Group. “It’s our job to leverage these innovations quickly and effectively to encourage even broader awareness and application of what’s working to improve children’s lives and outcomes. Children in crisis cannot wait.”
Download the report