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May 2021   |   Archive   |   National Adoption Month  

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Adoption Recruitment Response Systems

It is well known that there is an immense need for families to provide permanency for the over 122,000 children and youth who are waiting in foster care (AFCARS, 2019). Adoption recruitment models and strategies are key to this effort but are simply the first step in the process. As child welfare and adoption professionals, it is essential that we create customer service-oriented response systems that will support prospective families as they navigate the licensing and placement process.

All too often, successful recruitment efforts yield large pools of families only to have many lose interest due to lack of communication or engagement from the agency. The adoption process can be a long and stressful journey for prospective families, so clear communication and consistent support can be so helpful to keeping them focused.

AdoptUSKids suggests in this article that effective response systems often have common characteristics:

  • Be accessible and engaging. Provide multiple methods (email, phone, social media) for families to connect with staff.
  • Be supportive. Help families feel valued and encourage them to stay connected with your agency. Consider offering a while-you-wait support group.
  • Be data-driven. Use data to educate families on key information such as the children waiting for adoption and average timelines.
  • Have consistent messaging. Ensure that all staff interacting with families are providing the same information. Provide families with key information, such as the characteristics of children and youth in foster care, characteristics of successful adoptive families, and the effects of trauma, early on so that they are able to make an informed decision whether to continue in the process.
  • Have feedback loops with development and support. Continue to develop and enhance response systems based on feedback and expressed needs from families.
  • Develop families. Use the initial interactions with prospective parents to begin building and developing their knowledge and understanding.

These three resources provide strategies to develop effective response systems. A well-defined and intentional response system will be an important and necessary complement to your recruitment and retention efforts.

3 Resources on Recruitment Response Systems

Foster & Kinship Parent Recruitment and
Support Best Practice Inventory


By Redlich Horwitz Foundation & ChildFocus


Integrating Family Support From Inquiry Throughout Placement

By AdoptUSKids

Using Data to Improve the Inquiry-to-Licensing Experience for Families

By AdoptUSKids



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