connect / 2015

Foster Families: The Other First Responders

Foster Families: The Other First Responders

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

LA County has the highest number of children in foster care of any county in America which results in a continuing need to recruit those willing to serve as foster parents. While there are numerous groups working on this problem (DCFS, FFA’s) there remains no coordinated source of information. for those willing to meet this need. Our proposal focuses on providing consolidated “just in time” on-line information to individuals and families willing to serve as foster parents.

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project

How will your proposal improve the following “Connect” metrics?

  • Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
  • Government responsiveness to residents’ needs (Dream Metric)
  • Total number of local social media friends and connections (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to connect.

Historically and nationally, the recruitment and retention of resource families capable of providing high-quality care have been persistent challenges for child welfare agencies Fostering or adopting children is very demanding, and so a high rate of families exit care annually. A substantial proportion of resource family attrition is due to foster families exiting the system. In California, the need for resource families has been particularly acute for older children and children with severe emotional and behavioral concerns. Los Angeles County maintains two separate, and to some extent parallel, foster care systems. This two-track resource family recruitment system in Los Angeles County has implications and presents challenges for how and where interested individuals and families are able to obtain information about what it means to be a foster parent and where to go for additional training. Recent evidence clearly indicate that internet inquiries have increased as the number of personal referrals have decreased, suggesting online venues are not being effectively leveraged as a primary contact and resource point for prospective families. As an example, a single website including a common cross-agency calendar of orientations, should be developed as the central medium through which the child welfare system reaches out to families and brings them into the fold. This proposal focuses on first step to standardizing and effectively addressing responses from prospective resource families is the idea of “one-line” recruitment whereby a joint effort would be made to establish a single information source for prospective resource families. The first step in that process is the creation of a single on-line presence for information essential to understanding what is required to become a resource family. Our purpose in applying for the Challenge 2050 funds is to create not only a centralized website (FosterConnectLA) connecting resource families but to also enhance and support the collaborative relationship between DCFS, FFA’s and other relevant child and family serving agencies. The website will have several features to allow potential resource families to find out more about fostering a child and to be able to locate the nearest training or relevant organization in order to become more actively involved.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

Fundamentally, most important thing that we can evaluate is whether there is an increase in the number of resource families that become foster parents. This however may take time because making individuals and organizations aware of this new resource will not happen overnight. What we hope to see in the short run is a steady increase in the number of families accessing the information on the website. To this end we will make sure that the website tracks how many people come to the website and what content they are accessing.

In order to make this successful we will also have to keep track of several things including the number of other websites that choose to provide a link to our website on theirs and the number of organizations that we can successfully get to the planning and design meetings.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)