In the media
Social workers are a crucial part of the foster care team with the ability to directly and indirectly impact the lives of children on their caseload. The responsibility is great and the stakes are high. Channels of communication between the department, the courts, foster parents, and birth parents (and all the other members of the team, like educators, guardians ad litem, and counselors) have to remain open. Kevin can offer tactful tips for any department to improve its social worker communications strategies to make the team stronger and more responsive to the needs of the children on their caseloads. He appreciates the very real challenges of administering a government social services program effectively, and works hard to find practical solutions to their day-to-day problems.
Health and welfare departments across the country have a massive influence over the trajectory of young lives. It’s important not to lose sight of that impact, and keep all eyes on the objective of bettering the lives of children in care. At the administrative level, Kevin can bring his insight from his experience as a foster parent, trainer and mentor to help shape policy, with a constant eye on the child’s short-term and long-term interests. Kevin communicates compassionately and with tact, to help administrators bring about changes in culture or practice within their department.
Because foster parents are on the front line of caring for children in foster care, they have to deal with the realities of department policy and its implementation in the real world. This requires a high level of teamwork and relationship-building skills to handle the wide array of challenges that are unique to the children they are caring for. Kevin believes it’s important for successful foster parents to be equipped with good communication and problem-solving skills, and to work hard to understand the realities of every member of the foster care team. These goals should be indentified early in a robust but flexible pre-service training, and reinforced through ongoing training and mentoring.
Recruiting & Retention
Recruiting new foster parents with the heart to do this important work is essential to any department because of the high turnover and constant need for geographically dispersed resource families. As a member of a recruiting team, Kevin can offer insight to help recruitment efforts to focus not just on numbers, but on quality and retention. It does no good to recruit foster parents who give up after their first placement. Any recruiting program should have the goal of keeping foster parents excited about helping kids through the difficult realities of their trauma. Kevin can create or fine-tune messaging for campaigns, and give practical advice for achieving the best recruiting results at events.
In both public and private foster care systems, it is critical to view policies and practices through the lens of their impact on the children in care. This may seem self-evident, but as any child welfare professional knows, this is easier said than done.
Why? There are a lot of reasons for challenges in implementing a child-centric strategy, but a prime reason is that we’re dealing with human beings, and humans have the uncanny ability to defy boxes. Just as no two personalities are alike, no two experiences dealing with children impacted by trauma will be alike. The rules you thought were great for parenting or social work in one circumstance will at some point be challenged by a case that seems to seems to defy those rules.
Child welfare professionals must always be learning. We need to hear the experience of others along with research-based principles, and apply those things to the real world. How do you deal with the challenges of foster care as a foster parent, social worker, administrator, or other member of the foster care team? As a “student of what works,” Kevin can help to facilitate dialogue and add an important piece to the conversation: Real world experience.
Is your department being challenged by foster parent retention problems? Do your resource families have a positive relationship with your department, or is it strained? Are they leaving faster than you can recruit them?
These issues are challenging and complex, and there is no easy or fast answer. But that doesn’t mean there are no answers. We can study your department’s unique retention problems and make actionable recommendations. You can solve this problem and help your team to FosterBetter.
Need a Speaker?
Do you need a keynote speaker for your social work conference? Kevin can share his experience and insights in all types of settings, whether you need a speaker for a support group, a trainer or co-trainer for foster parenting classes, or a guest speaker to inspire anyone working in child welfare. He can speak at your next social worker conference, hold workshops with staff, or participate in private brainstorming and strategy meetings with administrators to solve complex legislative or public relations problems. He is passionate about helping kids in care, but understands the legislative and administrative challenges to doing so effectively. Invite Kevin as your next keynote speaker today, and your guests will be inspired to take actionable steps to improve their child welfare practice!