Cat Adoption Team has a pretty rocking foster program, with roughly 100 foster homes that care for nearly 1,000 kittens a year. So, when they dispense tips, we listen.
During a webinar with ASPCApro, Kristi Brooks of Cat Adoption Team gave advice on how to strengthen your foster care program and make it more accessible to help save more pets.
In a session packed with information, two key points stood out: Putting in place smart pre-adoption programs, and mentoring your foster families.
“Pre-adoption is a game-changer,” Brooks said.
Thanks to pre-adoption programs, some kittens never see the inside of a shelter. Kittens as young as six weeks are put on the list of “Kittens in Foster,” which is simply a list of kittens in foster that will be available soon.
Prospective adopters can use the list to contact foster caregivers, set up a time to chat, and if all goes well, set up a time to meet in the foster’s home. (If the thought of letting a stranger into your home worries you, Brooks says that in the 12 years this has been around, there have never been any incidents!)
Once the match has been made, the process plays out smoothly. The adopter then goes to Cat Adoption Team for adoption counseling. If the adopter is approved, they pay the adoption fee. Once the spay/neuter is complete, ownership of the kitten is then transferred to the adopter, and the kitten(s) new family will then pick them up from the clinic.
Since the kitten never steps a foot inside the shelter, two lives are saved by keeping a space open for other pets.
Foster mentoring is also a vital part of the process, Brooks said. Foster mentors are volunteers who provide support to foster families and to your medical staff. Brooks stressed the importance of supporting your foster families, which is where mentoring comes in.
At Cat Adoption Team, each foster family is assigned a mentor, who becomes the first line of inquiry for foster parents with questions or concerns about their foster kittens. Mentors travel to the homes of foster parents to perform home checks, administer vaccines or check on kittens. If a situation requires further attention, there are protocols in place to escalate the situation.
Other topics such as recruitment, supplies and setting up a space for your fosters are also discussed during the webinar. What to watch it for yourself? View the archived webinar.