Retaining Foster Parents: The Exit Interview Process

A foster parent’s job isn’t easy.

exit interviewThe sheer amount of passion, vigilance and care a foster parent has to possess is exhausting on the best day, let alone on a day where you’ve had to fight tooth and nail for the appropriate medication or care for a child in your home. But before a foster parent succumbs to frustration and decides it’s time to close her home, it’s important to take a step back, breathe and remember that there are children out there that need you.

It might not feel like it on some days, but the Division of Child Protection and Permanency wants all the good and able foster parents to keep their homes open. That’s exactly why they installed an exit interview process several years ago that Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS) conducts.

Every month, FAFS receives a list of licensed resource parents who are considering closing their homes for negative reasons. These reasons include: dissatisfaction with DCP&P, dissatisfaction with contract agency, dissatisfaction with license regulations, negative experience with placement and no child in placement for a year.

Upon receiving this information, FAFS Family Advocates place calls to the listed foster parents to conduct the exit interview. The questions center around what has led the foster parents to want to close their home as well as if anything could have been done differently.
“We hear a lot of stories that involve a lack of communication,” FAFS Family Advocate Elias Jones said. “A lot of times there’s little follow-up, or there’s a lack of information shared with the resource parent.”

Jones said that he’s heard his fair share of frustration during the process. But he also added that he’s heard a lot of people looking for help and resources. That, he said, is something FAFS can offer. Sometimes parents who came into the call adamant about closing their homes decided to keep them open after speaking with FAFS.

After exit interviews are conducted for the month, the results are logged and sent to DCP&P to review. The goal is that if trends develop, such as foster parents unhappy with caseworkers in a local office or if policy is not being followed within the Office of Licensing, they can be addressed and rectified.

While the process may not be perfect nor results immediate, the exit interview is in place because DCP&P does value foster parents. They, like FAFS, understand the important work foster parents do with children. But on those days it doesn’t feel like that’s the case, FAFS is here to help and provide important resources.

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