How to target recruitment toward minority adoptive and foster families that mirror...

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With new mandates from the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) and the President's Adoption 2002 initiative, public agencies are focusing anew on innovative and creative recruitment techniques to find adoptive families for waiting children.

The most recent data (January 2000), however, still suggest that 80% of children adopted from the public child welfare system are placed with foster parents (65%) or other relatives (15%). These numbers underscore and emphasize the importance of establishing permanency plans with those close to the child.

To begin planning your recruiting campaign, you will need cultural and demographic information about those communities in your area - much more than age, income, median income and education levels. You will need to research the cultural values of first, second, and possibly third-generation families within those communities of color.

You will need to know or have ideas about the following:

* How are families organized?
* Who generally makes decisions in the family system? Who makes major decisions?
* How do extended family networks and other social supports organize themselves in the area?
* Who runs community-based service agencies in the community?
* Who holds power, respect, and status in the community?
* Who are the gatekeepers?
* What are the socially accepted places to seek help when you need it?
* With what social or other stresses are these communities dealing?
* what are their communal priorities?
* What social marketing messages are uniquely attuned to the minds, hearts, myths, and cultural rhythms of each community?
* What are the cultural barriers to or antecedents for caring for other people's children in these communities?
* Are communities organized around nuclear or extended family patterns, clan patterns, or kinship patterns?
* How will themes about family, cultural identity, and vulnerable children play in these communities?
* What is the community's experience with mainstream social service agencies?
* How will the agency position itself to respond to the families recruited?
* Is the agency prepared to respond quickly and in a culturally adept way to recruited families?

Sociology departments of major graduate schools should be a source for answers to some of the questions listed above, since major sociological profiles have been developed on each of these communities and some may already have been done for communities of color in major metropolitan areas. You should also check for sociological profiles of first, second, and third wave immigrant communities as well as first, second and third generation profiles within minority communities.

A state or county child welfare agency may be able to supply demographic profiles of families successfully recruited from communities of color. You should try to find out such things as: where they live, work, what radio stations they listen to, what papers they read, where they go or what they do to have fun, what church they attend, and to what civic or fraternal organizations they belong.

Some family characteristics seem to predict a most successful placement for foster and adoptive children who have experienced neglect and abuse. These families are blue collar, and have a strong support network -- either within a religious community of some sort, or a strong belief system, or those who have committed relatives and friends who will support them with children who have difficult (and non-traditional and often socially unacceptable) behaviors.

Successful families tend to be highly flexible and to have realistic expectations for children who have been traumatized by abuse and neglect. They have the ability to celebrate small milestones rather than expect huge changes and improvements in behaviors.

For more information on recruitment efforts in minority communities, you can retrieve abstracts of books, articles, and grant reports on minority recruitment via our online searchable bibliographic database. The abstracts will include distributor information, because most of the materials are copyrighted, and not distributed by NAIC.

This material has been taken from the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse Web site as reviewed and approved for addition to this site on January 15, 2004.

The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse http://naic.acf.hhs.gov, can be reached toll free at 1-888-251-0075,or by e-mail at: naic@calib.com.
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