Having trouble finding foster caregivers? These six questions can help guide you toward a successful strategy.
1. Is it easy to become a foster caregiver at your rescue organization?
Research shows that the organizations with the biggest foster programs have quick and easy onboarding processes. Organizations that require things like home, landlord and veterinarian checks are correlated with significantly smaller programs. Becky Costner, Executive Director of Let Love Live, a foster-based rescue organization in Minnesota, tells us that its quick, easy foster care onboarding process has been, “since its implementation, the low barrier foster onboarding process has significantly improved our ability to recruit dedicated and compassionate foster parents.”
2.Have you reached out to your current foster and volunteer base to ask for help?
Ask them to talk with a friend or family member this week about your program and your need for fosters caregivers. Many organizations recruit 30% or more of its foster caregivers via word of mouth.
3. When someone first lands on your organization’s webpage, is it obvious that foster homes are valued and needed?
Can a person sign up to foster online and is the link to the sign-up form easy to find? Is “Foster” a choice on the main menu? For more tips on website best practices for growing foster programs, check out this document.
4. Could you be inadvertently turning away potentially great foster caregivers with unnecessary requirements?
Adding prerequisites such as previous breed experience, working from home or having a fenced yard significantly limits the pool of potential fosters and can perpetuate discrimination, regardless of intent. The organizations with the largest programs are providing low-barrier training while casting wide nets to ensure that as many people know about their programs as possible and are welcomed into the fold.
5. Are you talking about foster care often in communications such as newsletters, news releases and social media?
The organizations with the largest foster bases are mentioning foster in about 30% of its communications, sending the message that fostering is the norm in the community and foster caregivers are valued. Foster care is talked about in a variety of ways, such as telling stories about pets in foster, mentioning that a certain pet has spent time in a foster home and is available to foster or adopt. “Our two biggest successful ways for recruitment are truly word of mouth and social media,” says Costner. “We talk about fostering to everyone we possibly can and include foster ‘talk’ in every post we can on social media.”
6. Are you regularly telling supporters why pets need fosters?
The general public doesn’t know that research has proven that foster homes are the best placement for pets’ well-being as they await a new family because of lower stress levels, the ability for pets to feel safe with their humans, get used to living in a home and reduced exposure to germs. When people learn why pets need foster, it can motivate them to sign up.
Interested in learning more techniques for recruiting foster caregivers? Check out our Maddie’s® University course!