Everywhere you turn, whether it’s in the local or national paper, on the side of a bus, or on social media, there is some kind of advertisement highlighting the need for more foster carers to look after a child or young person living in care. Right now there is more looked after children and young people in the care system than there are carers, which will continue to rise if drastic measures are not taken.
The foster net website states that “9,070 fostering families are needed right across the UK in 2016… without more foster families coming forward during 2016 some children will find themselves living a long way from family, school and friends, being split up from brothers and sisters, or being placed with a foster carer who does not have the right skills and experience to meet their specific needs”
So this is a problem that is not going to go away for the time being.
Coventry council was reported as spending 10 Million pounds back in 2014 on trying to find suitable foster carers. That’s a heck of a lot of money to spend on recruitment alone, when it could of be done at faction of the cost and in a more effective way.
IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT MONEY
Most people who started out working with children and young people did it because they wanted to make a significant difference in the life of a child that was disadvantaged for whatever reason, money was rarely the motivating factor for taking up the position. However, when they no longer started to feel satisfied in their role and instead felt unappreciated, this soon changed and money then become the driving force and a priority in their life, because it was a way of compensating themselves for all their hard labour and stress that comes with the job.
SO WHY IS THERE STILL SUCH A SIGNIFICANT
SHORTAGE IN RECRUITING POTENTIAL FOSTER CARERS?
Wouldn’t it make sense to just follow the procedure that was used in recruiting previous carers, instead of reinverting the wheel? Well that would seem like the most obvious thing to do, but we all know that a lot of things have changed over the years in the way recruitment campaigns are carried out now, in comparison to before. So rather than keep looking backwards to outdated tools and strategies that worked previously, let’s look forward and see how we can change the approach more strategically and combat this challenge of not being able to find and recruit suitable foster carers once and for all.
Below are the three main reasons why people are put off from becoming a foster carer
The 3rd main reason why most people don’t want to foster is because of the urgency/crisis seen in foster care. The Law of attraction states that whatever you focus on becomes your reality and that is what you will attract. Yes, it is an obvious fact that more carers are needed to look after the many young people who are in care. However, this should not be used in a recruitment campaign as it sends out negative vibes to people who would potential be a suitable candidate. For example, urgent could come across as being desperate and nobody want to feels like they are ticking boxes.
Why not advertise all the benefits of being a foster carer and how making a difference in the life of a disadvantage child would be useful, without mentioning fostering in the ad because you initially just want to generate enquires. Once they have responded to your ad then you can go into more details about the role.
The second main reason why people are put off from becoming a foster carer is because of the Money. Most people know that when you go for a job interview that you shouldn’t mention money as the number one reason for applying for the role, unless of course it’s a sells position. This also is true for a fostering recruitment campaign. Many agencies like to talk a lot about the money as a reward for looking after the child not realising that it can potentially attract the wrong kind of people and stir up the wrong kind of motivation. A bit like paying a child to clean up their room. The motivation of what they are doing is not sincere, so when the going gets tough they will stop doing what needs to be done at a drop of a hat.
When it comes to vulnerable children and young people, they need to feel like the person who is looking after them is not only in it for the money. Children are not silly, they can pick this up very quickly and will most often than not start manifesting a challenging behaviour because of it.
Foster carers who made more of an impact with a child or young person, are normally the ones that stuck with the young people through thick and thin and were not motivated by money. They would go as far as spending the bulk of their care allowance on the child on things such as luxury family holidays, trips, giving extra pocket money and even clothes. They go over and a board because they treat the child as their own. So it’s not always about money.
The number one reason why people are put off from becoming a foster carer is because of what they have heard from previous foster carers.
In retail for example, the customer is considered to always be right. Regardless of the complaint, most managers will go over and above to protect the image, brand and reputation of the company. Customer satisfaction is their #1 mission. It has been proven that an unsatisfied customer could easily tarnish a company by simply telling their friends, who will in turn tell their friends, who will then tell their friends. The same goes for fostering. A disgruntled and misunderstood carer could potentially be a negative advocate for fostering. They therefore need to be treated in an appropriate manner because if they are not being supported adequately this could be feedback to other people, not just about fostering but about your agency as a whole.
The world is very small, everybody knows somebody who was, or is a foster carer, if they have a negative experience within the sector they will potentially be a bad advocate for your agency and fostering as a whole. So treat them right.
Instead of wasting money on recruitment campaigns that are not bringing in the desired results more needs to be done on thinking more logically about what different strategies should be applied for a better result. As the good old saying goes “if what you are doing is not working, try something else.”
This is also true when talking about the foster carers allowance. The best carers are normally the ones who are not motivated by money. So spend more time speaking about the qualities of a good carers and how you can support them to be the best they can possible be. This approach will not only empower them as a person, but it will naturally have a knock on effect to be a positive advocate of foster carers that will potentially drive a lot more suitable candidates at your next recruitment drive.
Footprints Transformation Academy specialises in delivering accredited behaviour management training and coaching courses to social care and youth professionals supporting children and young people living in care, with the sole aim of enhancing the working relationships with children and professionals. We also deliver courses which specifically addresses some of the common issues faced between social care professionals and foster carers which prevents them from working successfully together.
Check out our next training course How to Successfully Recruit More Foster Carers!
P.S. Part 2 of this four-part series will be delivered next week, if you’re not already a subscriber, sign up to our blog post so that you don’t miss our next top tip ‘How to Save Money in Your Next Recruitment Campaign’
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