Foster Carer Retention Project

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The Fostering Network has received funding from The Exilarch’s Foundation to explore broadly the reasons why foster carers stop fostering to help improve foster carer retention. We aim to research the challenges and benefits of exit interviews and then create an exit interview toolkit for fostering services to offer foster carers, so valuable information is captured and utilised in practice.

We would like to discover whether exit interviews for foster carers can help services discover the themes and reasons why foster carers stop fostering (currently around 13 per cent a year). We believe that creating an exit interview toolkit for fostering services may help us to understand these themes and reasons more, and that this knowledge could help retain the highly skilled and experienced foster carers we need in order to meet demand.

Get involved

The first stage of the project was to gather exit interview experiences of people who are, or have been, employed outside of fostering. Thank you to those who took the survey, your feedback is very much appreciated.

Project overview

This project will support fostering services to:

  • understand the reasons why foster carers leave their fostering service
  • identify the optimum timings for processing exit interviews
  • identify any themes as to the reasons why foster carers choose to leave
  • create a robust process for future exit interviews
  • embed learning to enhance retention and subsequent recruitment of foster carers.

There are two distinct research aspects to this project. The first is to discover best practice in the arena of exit interviews and how this can relate to foster carers. Secondly, we are seeking to discover the themes and reasons why foster carers stop fostering.

The aim (the research goal) of discovering this information is to aid the overall project objective, the creation of an exit interview toolkit for fostering services.

How will this look in practice?

We will be spending some time exploring good practice in exit interviews in industry, so that we can find out if any of the processes or procedures can be shared in the fostering sector. We will be utilising the knowledge of human resources professionals across different sectors to understand what they do to make sure exit interviews are conducted well and that they benefit individuals and organisations.

We will be conducting a thorough literacy review (looking at the research, documents and publications that are already available) so that we can learn from others and avoid duplicating work. We will be searching for ideas, models, and experiences of exit interviews so that we can collate data that will be helpful to us during the project.

We will be partnering with up to six fostering services (local authorities and independent fostering providers) across the country in order to work together to learn about the themes and reasons why foster carers stop fostering. We will be talking to current and retired foster carers to understand the motivations to continue fostering when things are very difficult and to appreciate fully why they may have left the profession.

We will be working towards designing and creating an exit interview toolkit for fostering services to best meet the needs of exiting and continuing foster carers. We hope to encourage fostering services to work together with us to impart this knowledge across the board. Our partnering fostering services will be instrumental in testing this toolkit to help us to develop ideas and methods to enable this to be a success.

Once the toolkit has been developed, tested and refined we will make it available to fostering services to implement locally. Over time, we hope that this project will enable fostering services to retain more foster carers and support those who are leaving the profession in a robust and sustainable way.

If you would like to be involved with this project, as a foster carer or a fostering service, please do get in touch – we would love to hear from you.

For more information, check out our blogs here.

Michelle Galbraith, Project Manager

0751 9111 505