September/October 2001Vol. 2, No. 5Foster Parent Recruitment Aimed at Latino Families in Utah
"Amor eterno" or "eternal love" is the message being broadcast on televisions throughout Utah in an effort to recruit more Latino foster families.
In the past decade, Utah's Latino population has increased by more than 138 percent, accounting for more than 16 percent of the children in Utah's foster care system. At the same time, only 5 percent of the State's licensed foster families are Latino. To increase the numbers of Latino foster parents, the Utah Foster Care Foundation launched a statewide recruitment campaign in May 2001.
The Foundation's initiative is in keeping with the mandate of the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA) of 1994 to find potential foster and adoptive families that reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of the State's children. At the same time, the Foundation complies with MEPA's requirement that a child's placement not be delayed or denied based on race, color, or national origin. The Foundation was established by legislative mandate in 1998 as a separate, private, non-profit agency responsible for recruiting and training foster/adoptive families. It operates with both public and private funds.
Television commercials taped in Spanish with English subtitles feature Emilio and Julia Moreno, who have fostered 27 children over the past 2 decades in Utah. One commercial focuses on their decision to foster a child after the death of their own 10-year-old daughter and another discusses the goal of reunification. Produced by Musa Communications, a Latino-owned and operated company in Utah, the commercial has been favorably received. According to Kelsey Lewis, Director of Foster/Adoptive Family Recruitment for the Utah Foster Care Foundation, having the commercial in Spanish was a first for a television campaign in Utah. "It has helped Latino families take our plea more seriously," said Lewis in an interview with the Children's Bureau Express.
To further connect with Latino families, the Foundation translated training materials into Spanish. The Foundation's Institute of Human Services training curriculum—used for both foster and adoptive parents—was the first in the United States to be translated into Spanish. An initial Spanish training session, held in January 2001, attracted 5 families. A second training in Spanish that began in July enrolled 20 families.
"The news coverage from the campaign has primarily increased our response," explained Lewis. "In the 2 months prior to the launch [March and April], we had four inquiries from Latino families. In May and June, the number increased to 63 inquiries." The Foundation continues to focus on grassroots recruitment efforts by disseminating Spanish-language material to civic organizations, churches, community calendars, and other local venues. The Foundation also holds monthly open houses in targeted areas.
Since the release of the Spanish recruitment ad on television, the Foundation continues to receive media attention. "We've gotten a lot of support from community leaders and local politicians who talk about the campaign on news programs," said Lewis. "We plan to follow up on their support by involving them in the grassroots efforts in their communities. We feel a two-tiered system [of combining mass media and grassroots campaigns] is most effective in recruitment."
Director of Foster/Adoptive Family Recruitment
136 E. South Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Phone: 801-303-4068 ext. 230
See the following related articles in these past issues of the Children's Bureau Express:
- "Attracting and Supporting Foster Families" (May/June 2001)
- "Growing Latino Population Spurs Efforts to Recruit Latino Foster and Adoptive Familiea" (January/February 2001)
- "States Streamline Foster and Adoptive Home Approval Process" (November 2000)
- "Recruiting Families for Special Needs Children" (May 2000)
For information about the Federal Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994 (PL 103-382), visit the website of the HHS Office for Civil Rights (http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/mepaipp.htm).