The Action Plan: A roadmap to the future

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It's an ongoing process
Make a Plan: The Action Plan is a roadmap that captures the essential objectives revealed by your data. It should be a "live" document that can be revised and refined as needed.

The Action Plan serves as a strategic map that captures the essential aims of the recruitment plan. It should be a "live" document that can be revised and refined as needed. It also can be used as a vehicle for moving projects forward and evaluating levels of success.

All members of the Recruitment & Retention Team should be involved in developing the plan. Start your work by asking several key questions:

The team should also consider their goals in a realistic light, taking into account agency resources and staff time. For example, consider whether a goal of certifying ten more foster families that meet the needs of children in care is reasonable in terms of the staff time and expense required to carry out the plan.

Follow the steps in developing an Action Plan.

How to find proven strategies

Numerous evidence-based programs and strategies have been developed for meeting a variety of identified needs in the recruitment and retention of foster parents.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway has posted a synthesis of the programs that have received funding for Diligent Recruitment of Families for Children in the Foster Care System.

Tips for working as a team

Creating an Action Plan is one of the more difficult stages in the diligent recruitment process. At this stage, it's not unusual for team members to say:

"We don't have enough time for this."

"We've already tried that."

"This is impractical."

"The rest of the agency won't support this."

… or there is silence around the table.

These responses are a natural reaction to change and the discomfort that accompanies change. In fact, these reactions may indicate that your discussions are tapping into something important. This kind of tension may arise from a fear of the unknown. At the root, it may be a real concern that the planned actions will fail, with possible consequences for the team members.

Try to get the team members to describe what they are experiencing. Encourage them to fully express their underlying concerns. The team leader must be authentic during this process and talk about what is being experienced. Once the real issues are brought forward and strong emotions can be diminished, the team can refocus on the tasks at hand.

Try this exercise

Ask your team: What do you want to create together? Either go around the table for everyone's response to the question, or break into small groups of two or three. Give your team a few minutes to reflect and think about their ideas. Then, using sticky notes, ask everyone to put their ideas on a wall for all to consider. This disclosure provides the team with an opportunity to see how the ideas align with the Action Plan, or not. If needed, the team can take steps to revise the Action Plan. It is important that the team takes responsibility and ownership for the success of recommended changes, or move forward with the existing Action Plan.

Source: Flawless consulting: A guide to getting your expertise used

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.