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April 2021Vol. 22, No. 4Using Data to Improve the Licensing Experience for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Families

A recent article from AdoptUSKids discusses the barriers prospective foster and adoptive families face during the licensing process and how agencies can help mitigate these obstacles by combining and analyzing data on agency strategies for engaging and retaining families and breaking down the barriers that keep families from moving forward to licensure and approval. Using survey data obtained through its Family Intake Tracking Tool, which supports communication with and services to prospective foster and adoptive families, and additional feedback from families, AdoptUSKids created a summary of the most common barriers to licensure and ways to address and overcome these barriers to strengthen engagement, retention, and response efforts.

Based on the responses from 3,785 survey respondents, the most commonly reported barriers were agencies not returning families' calls or emails and taking too long to become matched with a child. Respondents also reported additional barriers, including a change in personal circumstances on the part of the prospective family, finding the process too difficult, receiving inaccurate information from child welfare agencies, not receiving emotional support from child welfare agencies, having limited access to training, agencies prioritizing specific categories of families (e.g., adoption vs. foster care), and others.

To help mitigate these obstacles, AdoptUSKids suggests agencies should do the following:

  • Return families' calls and emails promptly.
  • Provide clear, consistent information about the licensure or approval process and requirements.
  • Use customer service approaches to provide a more engaging and supportive experience for families.
  • Use concurrent steps to streamline the process. For example, start background checks early in the process to avoid potential delays.
  • Use process mapping to streamline the process and eliminate or reduce barriers for families.
  • Support families through barriers or challenges that can't be eliminated.
  • Consider conducting a survey within the agency.

Read the article, Using Data to Improve the Inquiry-to-Licensing Experience for Families, to learn more about how to ease the licensing process and retain more families for children in need.