How many people contacted your agency last year to inquire about becoming foster/adoptive parents? Of those who made that initial contact, how many attended an orientation session? How many of those who completed MAPP training became certified foster parents? Read more . . .
Draw a simple diagram of the major milestones prospective foster families must complete on the path from inquiry to certification. Read more . . .
The number and sequence of these milestones will vary from one agency to another. For most, individuals who inquire about becoming foster parents are invited to attend an orientation or information session. The session roster usually includes the date of the session, names of attendees, and perhaps additional contact information.
MAPP training is typically the next step on the timeline to certification. These records include the names of those who attended trainings, the dates, and when they successfully completed the training.
Other steps on the path to certification include background checks for criminal history and home studies. Data is collected at each of these points. The final information to be recorded is the certification date for the foster home.
Small data sets can yield big results in tracking certification trends, training completion rates, etc. Below are some of the data elements your agency may already collect.
|Data Elements||Possible Sources|
|Date of Inquiry||Log from phone and/or email|
|Referral source||Inquiry form|
|Race/ethnicity of inquirer||Inquiry form|
|Primary and secondary language||Inquiry form|
|Location of inquirer||Inquiry form|
|Orientation date||Orientation sign-in sheets|
|Date application received||Postmark or email record|
|Dates MAPP training started & completed||Training sign-in sheets|
|Date fingerprinting results received||Fingerprint report|
|Date home study competed||Applicant file or CONNECTIONS|
|Certification date||Applicant file or CONNECTIONS|
While most agencies have this information, it often is kept in ways that make it difficult to analyze it and draw conclusions. Read more . . .
Agencies tend to have paper copies of inquiries stored in one area, while records of attendance at orientations or trainings are kept in another. Some agencies may not have found easy ways to keep records that follow each inquiry throughout the process and track the time it takes for each step.
Agencies recognize that organizing their data is essential before it can be used to drive recruitment strategies. When data elements are entered into a spreadsheet or database, it's possible to track the percentage of applicants who made it all the way through the process and how long it took for them to complete the process.
Local districts and voluntary agencies already maintain information regarding foster and adoptive homes in the Foster and Adoptive Home Development (FAD) stage in CONNECTIONS. OCFS guidance specifies that all of the information on prospective foster parent applicants acquired during the inquiry process and orientation process must be recorded in the FAD as early as possible, regardless of whether or not the home becomes fully certified or approved. The FAD checklist tracks key certification milestones, such as inquiry, orientation, application, training, home study and certification. This tracking helps agencies spot bottlenecks in the certification process, as well as analyze what proportion of inquiries result in certified homes (17-OCFS-ADM-05, Use of FAD in CONNECTIONS).
Some agencies use the Family Intake Tracking Tool (FITT) developed by AdoptUsKids. This online database is available free of charge to child welfare professionals, and is designed to make it easier for them to track foster/adoptive families throughout the certification process. For more information, see this fact sheet or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you plan to use a spreadsheet to collect this information, it is crucial to group your data in a way that will simplify further analysis. In database terms, these groups are called "fields." Make sure each field is limited so the information is as specific as possible. Here's an example.
Follow these steps to organize your data.