Danielle Bartelli, LPC, President of KVC Kansas, recently sent the below message to her team of approximately 700 social workers, therapists and other child welfare professionals. We are sharing it with the public to provide insights on KVC’s values and plan of action, as well as to invite Kansans from every city and county to join in helping vulnerable children and families.
Dear KVC Kansas Team,
You may have seen a recent article in the Topeka Capital Journal. It stated that youth have occasionally stayed in a KVC office overnight while waiting to be matched with a kinship or foster family. I want to tell you a little bit more about the background on this, what we’re doing to prevent it from happening and how you can help.
One of KVC’s most integral values is that “Children grow best in families.” This means that, unless they need residential treatment, children should be in family-like settings – not in group homes. This research-backed fact is why we helped reduce congregate care of children in Kansas from 30% in 1997 to about 4%, which is much better than the national average of 14% (read more here). Due to KVC’s huge success in increasing family-based care of children, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping children in need, asked us to be part of their Provider Exchange to train and provide consultation to other agencies on this topic.
In the same way that congregate care is not ideal for most children, it is not our goal that children would need to sleep in offices or any environment other than a safe, loving family home environment.
Here’s what we’re doing as an organization to help prevent office stays and reduce short-term stays:
Increasing relative and kinship care.
Currently 47% of the KC Metro Region youth we serve and 41% of East Region youth we serve are being cared for by relatives and non-related kin. This is good but there is room to improve. Our goal is that 1 out of every 2 children in out-of-home care (50%) are with a familiar caregiver. We are expanding our family/kin research and keeping this a top priority.
New statewide recruitment campaign.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families just launched a statewide advertising campaign to recruit more foster families. Their new website is http://www.fosterkskids.org. They’ve enlisted the help of a renowned creative agency to come up with new messaging. You’ll be seeing this message on TV and billboards, hearing it on the radio, seeing videos on social media and much more. We appreciate the resources they are putting behind this important need.
KVC’s innovative recruitment strategy
For the last two years, we’ve been implementing a content marketing strategy to attract new foster parents. This includes publishing online articles and social media content, offering free downloadable ebooks, and pursuing other steps to help people find us. Hundreds of people have downloaded our ebooks so far, and our recruitment team has started using a new lead nurturing approach to provide excellent support to families in their journey. See and share the free offers here. People who are ready to sign up for the free foster parenting training class can do so here.
Talking with other agencies and partners.
As we work to build relationships, we build capacity at the same time. We are working with our child placing agency (CPA) subcontractors on programming so they can be successful when helping match youth with emotional and behavioral needs with the right families, sharing the number of beds that are needed and the amount of children that are in need. We are also talking with youth residential centers (YRCs) and shelters.
These are just a few of the things we are doing to increase placements for children in care. But we need every one of you pitching in.
- Do you have ideas of how we can increase kinship or foster family recruitment? Share them with us!
- Do you know a church, business, civic group or school that would allow KVC to present about the needs of children and families? Contact Jackie Harwig at 913-956-5319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Do you have suggestions of how we can provide compassionate, effective care to every child and family we serve? Let us know. We have high standards and we need everyone’s input and support.
I hope that you will remain confident in KVC’s values, track record, and our commitment to serving children and families. Please help us share a positive message among your own family and friends and in the community. Thank you so much for being a part of this team.
Danielle Bartelli, LPC