the assistance and advice provided by a company to those people who buy or use its products or services.
Peter Drucker, a well-known management guru, is quoted as saying “To satisfy the customer is the mission and purpose of every business.” What does customer service have to do with foster family agency, foster care, or adoptions? This article will discuss customer service in foster family agencies.
Exam question: Who are the customers of a foster family agency?
- Children: Many, if not most, would argue that the primary customers of a foster family agency are the children. In fact, much of the language in foster care revolves around the “client”. Children are described as the client. Of course, no one can deny that children ought to be the center of attention in any foster or adoption agency.
- Central Placement: Some people would say that the customer is the “placing agency”. Placing agencies in California, are the counties that operate the referrals or placements process. They are the ones that are searching for homes for children who have been rescued from abuse or neglect.
- County Social Worker: Others may say the customers of a foster family agency are the county social workers. The county social workers are the ones who visit the children from time to time and are responsible to the courts to ensure that children are doing well. County workers are under a lot of pressure to ensure the safety and well-being of children.
While these 3 answers may be correct, there is a fourth possibility.
- Foster and Adoption Parents: You may not hear this in other foster family agencies, but at Knotts Family Agency we firmly believe that our first customer, or client, is the Foster/Adoptive Parent. Our purpose is to satisfy the customer.
Resource Parents as Customers and the Client
At Knotts Family Agency, we do not disagree that the children are the focus of attention. Our responsibility is to ensure that children are in a caring and nurturing environment, away from neglect and abuse in any way, shape, or form.
But we know that while our agency social worker visits the child once per week and the county social worker may visit the child once per month, the foster parent is with the child 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means that the only way to ensure that children are safe and well, is to provide the highest level of support and assistance to the foster or adoptive parent.
Motivation to become a Foster or Adoptive Parent
It is true that people of great hearts are the ones wanting to serve children. Some are driven by their motivation to give back to the community; others respond to a personal ministerial and spiritual calling; others are yearning to have the child they have not been able to conceive; some want to give a child the upbringing they themselves did not experience when growing up; and others, may simply want to supplement their income.
All these reasons are valid. However, regardless of the motivation, everyone must be willing to do everything necessary to ensure that children are safe and in a healthy and nurturing environment. Furthermore, no matter which group you fall into in terms of your initial motivation to become a Foster or Adoptive parent, our purpose is to satisfy the customer.
People who have never served as Foster Parents often criticize those who do serve, and say “oh, they only do it for the money”. Unfortunately, not everyone understands the significant frustrations and challenges that come with being a foster parent or opening your heart to adopt a child.
Yes, it is true that very few “bad apples” spoil the reputation for the masses of selfless, kind, and generous individuals who open their heart and homes.
Most people who decide to serve as parents of a child, do it for all the right reasons. That is why it is important to find an agency that is committed to supporting parents as they navigate the challenging and rewarding experience of being a foster or adoptive parent.
Commitment to Happy Parents Nurturing Children: Parent Delight™
As part of our commitment to Happy Parents Nurturing Children, we believe in “continuous improvement”, which means, always finding ways to innovate and improve our actions. The following five (5) strategic priorities guide the discussion about making sure foster and adoptive parents are more than satisfied:
- Resource Family Approval: Knotts Family Agency is responsible for approving Resource Families, but it is the county that makes the final clearance so that parents may begin receiving children. What can we change or improve during the approval process?
- Referrals and Placement of Children: What can we change or improve in how we inform parents of children and how can we better assist parents during the placement process?
- Parent Support. What can we change or improve so that parents feel that they are fully supported?
- Activities for Parents and Children. What type of activities should the agency offer for parents and for children?
- Administration and Finance. What can we change or improve in general, to ensure that parents are happy as they care for children?
Knotts Family Agency is committed to Parent Delight™, which means, having an unapologetic and intentional focus on ensuring Foster/Adoptive Parents are the center of our work. We understand that even with our focus on Parent Delight™ there may be times when there are disappointment and frustrations. In that event, we promise to work hard to address and resolve your concern.
Knotts Family Agency is not in competition with other agencies because we believe that each agency exists to provide a home for a child in need. In fact, when we get a call from someone wanting to “transfer” to our agency, our first response is to encourage them to resolve whatever concerns they have with their current agency.
However, our mindset will always be to offer the best service to parents. With thousands of children in need of a caring family and home, we need all the help. That is why, Resource Families, including foster or adoptive parents, must be key customers of foster family and adoptions agencies.