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Scott McKay

Norfolk CC & IMPOWER – pioneering foster carer recruitment

Guest blogpost written by Scott McKay, Fostering & Adoption Marketing Manager at Norfolk County Council

In 2018, Norfolk County Council began developing a new approach to foster carer recruitment. Working with IMPOWER, we have used behavioural science (as part of IMPOWER’s EDGEWORK approach) to increase our pool of foster carers.

The starting point was research we conducted which showed that 86% of Norfolk’s carers are what are known as ‘pioneers,’ meaning they value doing the right thing, helping others and connecting with their peers.

We used this knowledge to devise a targeted marketing campaign, in order to reach out to those most likely to consider fostering. This has delivered highly positive results:

  • A 50% increase in the number of enquiries about fostering
  • An 80% increase in the number of enquiries which lead to an application to foster

These improvements are fundamentally down to the good work of our Foster Carer Ambassadors and their positive messaging about the service, specifically around the training and support that we offer. Our foster carers are at the heart of our recruitment campaign through the power of ‘word of mouth’, which continues to generate most of our enquiries.

The Norfolk Fostering Service has also been piloting a new system under which a full-time social worker supports the placement finding team. This has contributed to a significant increase in the number of children we have been able to place with in-house foster carers, from 30% to just over 60%.

We are currently in the process of resetting our workstreams for the new 2020/21 campaign and new Ambassadors have brought a fresh impetus. One of these Ambassadors attracted five new enquiries on their first ‘word of mouth’ stand at a local supermarket.

We have also implemented a buddy scheme whereby our Ambassadors and buddies team up to help support new foster carer applicants through the recruitment process and during their first placement. Applicants now find that the path to becoming a foster carer is smoother, which is reflected in the increased conversion rates and higher numbers of in-house carers.

Behavioural science has been key to achieving these positive outcomes, and we look forward to delivering more positive results through our 2020/21 campaign.

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