How to use inquiry-to-certification data


One goal of effective recruitment is to widen the bottom of the funnel. Families coming into the funnel should be those who are most likely to stay with the certification process and successfully foster a child. Keep in mind that there may be healthy self-selection out of the process; some prospective families may decide that becoming a foster parent is not for them. Also, your agency may not certify all applicants due to factors such as a problematic background check. The funnel gives an agency a lens for evaluating the numbers and characteristics of families that completed the certification process.

The entire Recruitment & Retention Team should be involved in analyzing the data. The analysis will naturally lead the team to ask some key questions, such as:

  • How many inquiries did we receive over the past year? How did most of the inquirers learn about the need for foster parents?
  • What were the demographics of the families that completed the entire process and were certified?
  • From what neighborhoods did most of the inquiries and MAPP trainees come?

Often, these questions will reveal a need for more data or will help the agency target its recruitment efforts.

This worksheet is designed to help agencies organize and assess this data.

One agency was happy to see that most of the prospective foster parents who started MAPP successfully completed the training. They were puzzled to learn, however, that only half of these families were eventually certified. A closer look at the data revealed that certification paperwork wasn't being submitted. This was partly due to unclear deadlines and complicated instructions. The agency developed a user-friendly Foster Parent Paperwork Checklist that was welcomed by applicants.
Another agency also determined that a significant number of families completed MAPP training but did not become certified. A case review showed that, after training was complete, the agency conducted a home visit and found that applicants' homes were not safe or appropriate for children in foster care. In response, the county scheduled home visits at an earlier point in the overall process. These face-to-face meetings allowed staff to start to build a working relationship with the prospective foster parent, communicate the agency's expectations, see whether the home met physical and safety requirements, and discuss other sensitive issues that might prevent the family from being certified.

Locating bottlenecks in the process

Collecting data on the individuals who have contacted the foster care agency and then tracking it over time can reveal bottlenecks in the system. Read more . . .

Bottlenecks in the system are indicated when it takes an unreasonable period of time to complete a particular step. For example, you may find that it takes 18 months for the majority of applicants to be certified as foster parents. By tabulating the time required for each step of the process for all applicants, you discover that it takes an average of five months for a person to start MAPP training after they have submitted an application.

  • What does this tell you?
  • Does this have an impact on whether applicants complete the process?
  • What can be done to reduce the time it takes to be certified?

Involve key agency personnel to address the more challenging bottlenecks. Who needs to be around the table to discuss the current challenges and opportunities that may exist? Share the findings revealed by the data and suggest a meeting to discuss the issues.

Click here for suggested strategies for keeping prospective foster parents engaged in the process.