Recruiting Families That Reflect the Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Backgrounds of Children and Youth in Foster Care
Black and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) children and youth are overrepresented in the child welfare system, resulting in disparate outcomes. Having a pool of potential adoptive families that reflects the racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds of children and youth waiting to be adopted provides an opportunity for them to remain in their community and create a sense of belonging. Diligent recruitment within Black and AI/AN communities, as well as with other people of color, is critical when matching children and youth with families that can support their developing identity.
Conversations regarding race, ethnicity, and culture should be a part of all placement conversations and incorporate a family-centered approach. The overall goal should be to make sure children and youth stay connected to their cultural background and family traditions. This may present itself in many ways, such as the food a child enjoys, the church they attend, or the traditional holidays they may celebrate.
To be comfortable having these conversations for recruitment and placement, child welfare professionals may require training about how to have uncomfortable conversations about race, ethnicity, culture, and the impact of systemic racism to children and youth in care. Understanding and acknowledging the institutional and systemic racism within the child welfare system is a vital first step to dismantling the barriers to permanency for children and youth from communities of color.
Recruiting families that reflect the racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds of the children in care creates opportunities to help children and youth keep connections and build resilience. What does a focus on diligent recruitment of families of color look like? Here are some tips about assessing your recruitment practices
- Assess your organization:
- What services and supports do you have to offer these families?
- Are you prepared to face and address issues regarding systemic and institutional racism?
- Do you own being a part of these issues?
- Do any of your staff represent the racial, ethnic, or cultural backgrounds of the children and youth you are recruiting for?
- Assess your marketing practices:
- What races, ethnicities, and cultures, are reflected in your recruiting materials?
- Are your recruiting materials accessible and easy to understand?
- What language(s) are the materials in?
- Are your materials easily accessible (e.g., online, in agency offices, in community centers)?
According to the AdoptUSKids webinar "Recruiting Foster and Adoptive Families of Color: Stories and Strategies From Leaders of Color in Child Welfare," diligent recruitment efforts are the most successful. The best recruiters for adoptive parents are current adoptive parents. They know how to support and retain adoptive parents. Community organizations can also be an invaluable resource in connecting agencies with families. Authentically developing and supporting these partnerships takes time, research, and effort. Focus recruitment on one population, one church, or one community. It can be a slow method, but it also provides an opportunity to help people work through fears and walk them through the adoption process.
Nevertheless, it is crucial to recognize that when recruiting for potential adoptive families or resource families from diverse populations—and emphasizing race, ethnicity, and culture— and truly meeting the needs of children and youth, that we must also acknowledge the intersectionality of individuals with various and unique characteristics. It’s important for children and youth to see themselves in the pool of potential adoptive families. That means considering individuals with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions, and others who might not have been traditionally included in recruitment efforts.
Explore the resources below to learn more about how to recruit ethnically and culturally diverse families effectively.
For more information, visit at https://www.childwelfare.gov.
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