Online Foster Parent Training
Switch to Web-based training and online/telephone recruitment and orientation events, so you don’t have to stop licensing families. You can use existing resources from places like Washington State, Washington DC, and Michigan that are already doing this.
Who Can Do This?:
A licensing decision maker
Timeframe: About a week
Difficulty: Medium (easier if you use existing resources, below)
The Problem It Solves
Many agencies are pausing their resource family training and licensing efforts. As the need for safe homes for our foster children swells, we can’t afford to wait months to license these families.
How To Do This
Visual learner? Watch a demo of the below options here.
Use existing online foster parent training: Caregiver Core Training (CCT) is the online system developed by the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence, a partnership within Washington State. If you are interested in exploring whether this is a viable option for your state, please contact the Alliance directly.
- Try their demo
- See their overview slide deck
- Contact Christina Coad (ccoad AT uw DOT edu) for more information.
Conduct telephone orientations: Orientations for new families can be conducted entirely over the phone–an approach used and championed by Washington DC.
DC provided a PowerPoint for participants to follow along and had a foster parent on the phone line to provide a real-world perspective of the foster care experience.
The training was well-received. Participants had many questions and the foster parent got the most questions.
Conduct online orientations Los Angeles County conducts the majority of its orientations online.
- Use the same slide deck as you would for an in-person orientation, or use this slide deck ( PPT / PDF ) prepared by Washington DC’s Child and Family Services Agency Recruitment and Family Licensing Units.
- Tailor content to the specific needs and demographics of your community, like Los Angeles County does.
- Add an interactive element. Use a platform like Google Forms to create a scored quiz.
- Reschedule applicants who are currently scheduled to attend an in-person orientation, to an online version.
Convert your own in-person training to online training: If you prefer using your own training, you can convert it to online training. Michigan has recommended best practices:
Create closed Facebook groups for each class to help class members form connections with each other and allow trainers to send out videos, homework, etc. These groups create connections between participants and allow for a support group of sorts.
Schedule frequent classes. Parents prefer scheduling classes more frequently, which allows them to switch out between spending time with children and attending the training in two-parent households.
Keep classes short. While Michigan used to offer full-day in-person classes during weekends, day-long online classes are way too long to do on the computer. Online sessions are now scheduled one session at a time.
Send web meeting guidelines / recommendations prior to the first class. Not all learners will be familiar with web meetings. Michigan created web meeting guidelines to send to each participant prior to the first class meeting. These guidelines included general expectations, web meeting manners (i.e. how to dress appropriately, when to mute), and instructions on how to use the technology. They also created questionnaires for each session to make sure that parents are understanding the material as the trainer covers it.
Leave time at the beginning of the meeting to assist with any technical difficulties.
Have a backup person in the agency who is good at technology and can provide real-time technical assistance during the class meeting.
Cap the session at approximately 20 people – if it is too big, it is too hard to engage everyone.
Cut hands-on activities that can’t easily be done remotely. Instead, stop to discuss the material more often.
Build in short breaks throughout the session so that people don’t disengage.
Contact Jessica Sweet from MI DHHS if you have any questions. You can reach her at SweetJ2 AT michigan DOT gov.
If your agency is using Binti:
- Provide an online orientation video for families to watch. Afterwards, they can answer a quiz in order to get credit. You can use a video you have filmed or link to a video on another website.
- Binti is in the process of launching a feature for online initial and renewal trainings that can be done by families online to get training credit. This will be live in a few weeks (as of 4/5/20).
- Los Angeles County found that when given a choice, more than 90% of families (approximately 9,000 to date) opted to complete orientation online.
- In addition to being convenient for families and vital during COVID-19, Los Angeles County found that online orientations reduce staff workloads and free up staff time for other priorities.
Who’s Doing This?
Washington DC, Washington State, Michigan, and Los Angeles County