We started with some agencies to support their recruiting efforts digitally. Face-to-Face methods continued like open houses at the organization, a table at Community events. Advertising spending continued on offline methods but it was clear that digital marketing was effective both by cost and results.
And then there was the COVID pandemic since March 2020 causing enormous pain and suffering….
Organizations that relied solely on offline recruiting found a steep decline in the opportunity to talk with interested foster parents. The reason was that every physical location was now out of bounds.
There was no dearth of foster parent enquiries for our foster care clients because they were all generated digitally. During the pandemic nobody could leave home and became much more tech savvy.
On the organizational side, foster care training started being offered virtually to accepted parents. Everyone had become comfortable with digital…
There was one thing that perplexed us..
Before the pandemic offline open houses were sparsely attended. If ten people signed up for the open house – maybe 2 or 3 highly committed folks showed up,
During the pandemic, for digital Zoom open houses, despite all digital marketing efforts we found similar numbers. That is a maximum of 30% people actually attending after signing up.
It meant that 70-80% interested foster parents could not make it to the meeting given the numerous challenges everyone was facing.
The idea of StartFosterCare.org was born…
VisitDays a leader in the technology of virtual (and real) community engagement offered to provide their platform at no cost for a year to us. Thank you VisitDays!
We were convinced that if every foster care organization could have their content on StartFosterCare. Org then we could do a digital outreach for parents in the area.
We saw three advantages in launching Start Foster Care:
- Interested parents can actually attend open houses: Since the website is on all the time the interested foster care parents can browse nearby organizations that can take them through the foster care process. Taking the step to just enquire about foster parenting is a brave step and some parents tell us that they took a year or more to decide to sign up.
- Foster Care Professionals can virtually explain their support and services : With the pandemic foster care professionals are particularly challenged. Examples of these challenges include kids not able to take the bus due to social distancing and both parents need to go to work. In these difficult times what if they could make their initial open house presentations available online? What if prospective parents could chat online right from the profile? What if every interested parent could be followed up? Would this free up more time to serve the kids?
- A more organized community of foster carers in a state: Foster caring is an urgent social need and both the foster parent and foster care professionals are doing noble work. StartFosterCare provides a platform and data to create a supportive community of foster carers from Government, Agencies and Foster Parents.
We are delighted to launch StartFosterCare.org to coincide with the National Foster Care Month May 2021.