Implementation: getting the work done

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It's an ongoing process
Take Action: Implementing the Action Plan (or getting the work done) should start as soon as possible to test your strategies and build on the interest and goodwill generated during the planning process.

Once an Action Plan has been written, work should begin as soon as possible. This allows your team to maximize the interest and good will generated during the planning process. Also, the sooner you start trying new strategies, the sooner your recruitment challenges will be addressed.

Review the membership of the Recruitment & Retention Team; getting the work done depends on having the right people assigned to the planned tasks. Carrying out the plan touches on roles and responsibilities across the agency, not just the homefinding unit.

It also is essential that agency leadership supports and approves the Action Plan. Ideally, the agency director and supervisory staff have been part of the data review and Action Plan development. If not, they should have been regularly informed of and asked for their feedback on the team's deliberations and the data behind the Action Plan.

Avoid barriers to progress

Change can be difficult; it's normal to run into snags. Here are some tips on avoiding the usual pitfalls:

Don't tackle everything at once.

Try to change only two or three things at one time. First, focus on tasks that will require the least amount of change. These will be the least disruptive to the current system and can be authorized quickly. Consider which tasks can be authorized by the Recruitment & Retention Team and which will require further review and approval. After the first project is underway, determine the steps that will be necessary to take on bigger challenges. Completing one step at a time will make a complicated objective easier to manage.

Keep the long-term goal in mind.

When day-to-day pressures creep in, deal with the matters at hand, but continue to focus on your longer-term recruitment and retention strategies. For example, once you've found a home to meet an immediate need to provide care for a large sibling group, remember to come back to your longer-term goals for meeting the needs of all children coming into care.

Be willing to let go of old ideas.

For example, your agency has held a "foster parent appreciation" event every year. A survey finds, however, that foster parents rank "more flexible respite care" as most important, with the annual event ranking fourth. It makes sense to focus staff time and effort on creatively meeting respite needs, rather than on holding an event just because "we do this every year."

Keep communication lines open

Achieving your recruitment and retention goals requires coordination and communication among team members.

Ongoing communication is supported by:

Updating the Action Plan

The Action Plan is a vehicle for communication among members of the team, and with others at your agency. Updating the Action Plan regularly and sharing this roadmap with your team and other stakeholders keeps everyone in the loop and builds investment in shared goals. It also builds accountability, reminding everyone who is responsible for which task, and when it has to be done.

Holding regular team meetings

Meeting regularly to share updates and plan next steps is important for coordination, but it also "holds the space" outside the usual day-to-day pressures for your team to strategize long term goals for recruitment. Taking time to meet as a team sends a message about the value your agency places on recruitment and retention.

Celebrating successes

This is challenging work, and every accomplishment is worthwhile. Perhaps your agency has created a new community partnership to help get out the message about the need for foster homes for older youth. This is a triumph! Or perhaps your agency has certified ten more homes this year than it did last year. Pause and celebrate this success.

This project is funded by the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under a Cooperative Agreement, Grant Number 90CO-1109. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.

Children's Bureau
NYS Office of Children and Family Services
Welfare Research, Inc.