THROUGHOUT THE STATE OF GEORGIA, THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF KIDS AND TEENAGERS IN THE CARE OF THE GEORGIA DIVISION OF FAMILY AND CHILDREN SERVICES.
Each of these children needs and deserves a home, even if it's just temporary. Recruiting foster parents had always been an issue for DFCS. There have consistently been two main issues at play: 1) Children in foster care have a negative stigma of being bad, hard to handle, and even crazy and 2) DFCS didn’t exactly have the best reputation either, with public perceptions of incompetence, unprofessionalism and negligence.
Our goal was to increase the number of inquiries for foster and adoptive parents for children in DFCS' care. This required shifting perceptions of the children and instilling confidence in the agency itself, along with employees, all while introducing the Blueprint for Change, the agency’s strategy to implement recommendations from the governor’s Child Welfare Reform.
Galvanizing the public couldn’t even be considered until some work was done within the organization.
Marketing training was conducted for Resource Developers to correct and enhance their recruitment efforts. They received assistance identifying targets, more likely to be receptive to their message, learned pitch strategies to round out their presentations and were coached on marketing and public relations tactics they could use on their own.
Our team also conducted media training for key personnel in each region throughout the state to ensure they were capable of speaking with reporters and competently conveying DFCS' key messaging. This included identifying key messages, providing tactics to convey talking points clearly and succinctly and sharing tips on how to steer the interview in the desired direction, all of which we put to the test in mock interviews.
Because success would not be dependent on the efforts of DFCS alone, a fully integrated marketing campaign was subsequently developed and rolled-out in monthly phases, targeting a different group each time, across a variety of media. Each execution centered around the words I AM, as a reminder that everyone had a role to play in the process, from policymakers and caseworkers, to administrators and prospective parents.
Community involvement was also key as we deployed our community outreach team to events to build awareness of the need for foster parents and collect contact information of prospects.