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February 2007Vol. 8, No. 1Recruiting Hispanic Foster Parents

A recruitment model developed by the Child Advocacy Resource Association (CARAS) to recruit, train, and assess Hispanic families has been successful in recruiting families that better reflect the population of children in the New Jersey child welfare system. Prompted by the need to place Hispanic children in culturally responsive environments and to meet the requirements of the Federal Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, CARAS and Kean University partnered with New Jersey Foster and Adoptive Services to create the Hispanic Foster Care Recruitment and Retention project. The development and implementation of the CARAS model is documented in a recent article in Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services.

Early on, CARAS identified key values and customs among Hispanics that could make foster parenting a more attractive option. Particular emphasis was placed on the need to recruit and retain foster parents who are familiar with cultural traditions such as co-parenting (compadrazgo) and the "gifting" of children (hijos de crianza), common in many parts of the Spanish-speaking world. To this end, CARAS created the strengths-based Foster Care Recruitment and Retention Model. Some critical components of the model include:

  • Hiring and training competent bilingual/bicultural staff to serve at all stages of the recruitment and retention process
  • Conducting all training of prospective parents in Spanish
  • Tapping community resources to engage Hispanics
  • Providing face-to-face support to current and prospective foster parents
  • Developing materials that are accessible to the community at large

Since the inception of the program, New Jersey child welfare providers have seen a rise in Hispanic foster parent participation, but more efforts are needed to best meet the needs of the growing number of Hispanic children in foster care.

The article, "Recruiting Hispanic Foster Parents: Issues of Culture, Language, and Social Policy," by Doris Correa Capello, appeared in Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, Volume 87(4), and can be downloaded from the website:

For more information about CARAS, visit the website: