Recruiting Foster Families, Supporting Adolescents in Foster Care and Foster Care by Relatives

The foster services in Israel are an important part of the out-of-home services at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Services (MOSAS). They are designed to meet the needs of children and adolescents under the age of 18, who are at risk and in danger due to dysfunctional parents and cannot remain in their homes. Fostering is intended to be a temporary solution until a permanent home can be found.

In Israel, many children in need of an out-of-home arrangement are referred to residential care. This is not the norm in other parts of the world and is not in line with the growing approach that preference should be given wherever possible to placing the children within a family framework. Efforts are now underway in Israel to strengthen and improve foster care for children in need of an out-of-home framework and to anchor the relevant provisions in law.

As part of the effort to enhance and expand foster care, we conducted three literature briefs:

  • A review of effective strategies to recruit foster families. Four key methods and complementary strategies to facilitate the process of recruiting families were reviewed.
  • A review focusing on adolescents in foster care. About 40% of the children in foster care are aged 13-18. Coping with these teens, particularly those who were taken into foster care during adolescence, is considered more complex and potential foster parents consider them less desirable. The review examines the  characteristics of the adolescents and of the families and the parenting skills found to be associated with successful integration of the adolescents into their foster homes, as well as ways to assist those families.
  • A review of the support for families fostering relatives. These families have somewhat different characteristics from those of “regular” foster parents and different needs for support due to their kinship with the child and their commitment to him/her. This review was designed to provide policymakers and foster agencies with information about effective strategies for supporting these families at the system level, e.g., through legislation on the adoption of relatives, and by improving the relationship between social workers and the families.

The literature briefs will be used by MOSAS and foster organizations to broaden the foster services and continue their professional development.

The study was initiated by the MOSAS Research, Planning and Training Division and the Child and Youth Service at the Division of Personal and Social Services.