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Strategies for Foster Parent Recruitment and Retention

5/4/2001:   May is National Foster Care Month, during which foster families are recognized for the important contributions they have made to millions of children.

At any given time, more than 560,000 children in the United States do not live with their birthparents for a period ranging from days to years. Since 1989, the number of youth in out-of-home care has increased by more than 90%, yet only about 130,000 homes are available to them. In addition, up to 40% of foster families quit during their first year for a variety of reasons. A focus of National Foster Care Month is an emphasis on support and retention of foster families, as well as recruitment.

A report from the Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support (CNC) highlights 10 broad principles promoting stable foster family placements. A reference list is also included, as well as 25 Recommendations for Foster Parent Retention, originally published by the Child Welfare League. The report, Lighting the Way: Attracting and Supporting Foster Families, or a summary, can be found at http://www.casey.org/cnc/lighting_the_way.htm. The organizationís main page, http://www.casey.org, provides additional information and publications on foster care as well as links to related sites.

One link is to CWLA and a new 88-page handbook developed to increase chances of successfully finding foster families and volunteers. A Community Outreach Handbook for Recruiting Foster Parents and Volunteers describes outreach opportunities, messages for the public, and tips for working with the media. Print copies may be ordered through the CWLA website, http://www.cwla.org/pubs. Written by Kathy Barbell, formerly on the CWLA staff and now director of the CNC, and Lisa Sheikh of CNC, the handbook is also available online at http://www.casey.org/cnc/recruiting_foster_parents.htm.

For more information on Foster Care Month, go to http://www.cwla.org and click on the "May Is National Foster Care Month" icon.

Content contributed by Heather Banks, Editor

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