What is the Fostering NSW campaign?

The Fostering NSW campaign is a public awareness campaign and
one component of an overarching Foster Care Recruitment and Retention Project being delivered by ACWA.

Who is running the campaign?

The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA) is the peak body for foster care agencies in NSW, and is running the campaign.

What are the campaign aims and objectives?

The campaign is designed to support the recruitment efforts of out-of-home care agencies by raising general awareness of foster care, encouraging people to ‘Be Part of an Amazing Journey’ and find out more about becoming a foster carer by visiting the Fostering NSW website or calling the 1800 number.

How does the referral process work?

Visitors to the website are invited to read the information, interact on the forum and review the information about agencies that provide foster care in their location. Visitors are encouraged to further their enquiries directly with an agency that they prefer, or via an online enquiry form. The form captures details of potential foster carers that Fostering NSW forwards to agencies in rotation, by area and based on the information that they have provided. View a comprehensive flow chart explanation of the FNSW Enquiry Referral Process.

The free campaign 1800 number (1800 236 783) provides another channel of information and referral.  Potential carers are provided information about foster care as well as suitable agencies in their area. They may be referred directly to a local Agency. Callers can also be sent an information booklet on foster care and contact details of provider agencies. Or if callers prefer, their details can be entered into the database and referred via the same system as the online enquiries.

How will the aims and objectives be achieved?

An ongoing high profile public awareness raising campaign runs to raise awareness of foster care and maximise all opportunities for publicity. The main campaign elements include:

  • Public relations i.e. media stories and events
  • Social media i.e. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
  • An interactive Foster Forum
  • Advertising (across a range of media)
  • The regularly-updated Fostering NSW website and 1800 number
  • Supporting activities including local information sessions and engagement opportunities.

How long will the campaign run for?

The campaign began in May 2013, and ACWA has been re-funded twice to continue managing it. ACWA is committed to continuing the Fostering NSW campaign as long as funding allows.

Are there target audiences?

Specific groups are targeted as part of the public awareness campaign. The primary target group is women aged between 30 and 50, with secondary target groups being “empty nesters” (especially for short-term and respite care), same sex couples and caring professionals. Grassroots campaigns aimed at recruiting Aboriginal and CALD carers also run in waves.

Are there specific key messages that agencies should use?

ACWA’s key messages can be found here, and agencies are encouraged to use them as a point of reference when developing their own agency and regional campaigns.

What can agencies expect to see in the media?

Agencies have been helping ACWA to source carer case studies for use in the media during the campaign. You can expect to read, see and hear interviews with them in local and state-wide media. You can also expect to see interviews with ACWA’s CEO and the Minister. ACWA is also encouraging agencies to engage with their own local media to publicise the campaign and the need for more carers.

Is social media being used as part of the campaign?

Social and digital media is being fully utilised to not only publicise the campaign but also keep agencies informed of any campaign developments. The Fostering NSW Twitter and Facebook profiles are used to complement PR activity and ensure the subject of foster care remains in the public eye. ACWA will also use its own Facebook page to inform agencies of any general campaign updates and highlights, and as a platform for sharing best practice.

What is the Foster Forum?

The Foster Forum is hosted here on the Fostering NSW website and is a place where prospective and current foster carers can ask questions and engage with other carers. It is a safe online environment that hosts a wealth of information on fostering and is a reliable resource. As well as providing a platform to engage with current carers, the forum features regular conversation threads that users are encouraged to contribute to. Foster Forum Ambassadors, who are all current carers, log on regularly to answer questions and comment on discussions. ACWA also has a panel of Content Experts it can call on to advise on legal and other more technical issues.

How is the Forum moderated?

ACWA staff moderate the Foster Forum. Anyone is able to view the Forum, but in order to join the conversation, individuals need to create a user profile with a valid email address, and agree to our Terms & Conditions. This gives moderators the ability to delete any inappropriate posts, or warn and block malicious users. Confidentiality is maintained for individuals through the creation of usernames and passwords, and ACWA has also requested that no agencies or caseworkers be specifically named to avoid any inadvertent negative publicity.

How does the campaign affect agencies?

The campaign has generated a higher volume of enquiries from potential foster carers. This is something that agencies need to be able to accommodate and ensure they have the necessary resources in place to respond to the demand. View a document explaining what is required of Agencies when they receive referrals from Fostering NSW here [link].

Agencies can also leverage off the campaign and the interest in foster care that it generates. Agencies should think about timing information sessions and about how they can use the publicity to really focus recruitment efforts to the desired target groups.

What can agencies do at a local level?

Help raise awareness of foster care and the need for more carers by putting up the campaign posters, handing out the flyers and ensuring there is information on your website and a click-through to the Foster Forum. Also think about new and novel ways to engage with the carers you need as well as hosting standard information sessions. There are tips on how to do this in ACWA’s Recruitment Manual. Agencies are also encouraged to combine recruitment efforts with other agencies in their region during the campaign waves.

How are agencies told what’s happening with the campaign?

Regular campaign updates are being circulated via a sector Newsletter to key contacts within every agency and regional groups. These contain information about any new campaign developments, what agencies can expect to see and how they can help. The ACWA Facebook page will also point agencies to new campaign material and events.

What campaign resources will be provided for agencies?

Hard copies of the campaign posters, flyers and calling cards can be supplied either by post or arranging collection or drop-off.

ACWA has produced a Foster Care Recruitment Manual and an Aboriginal Foster Care Recruitment Manual, that include template letters and press releases, and has also developed a number of digital assets for agency websites. In order to maximise local coverage, template press releases are made available here to agencies and regional groups so they can be tailored to suit local circumstances before being sent directly to local media contacts.

Who should agencies contact if they have questions?

Overall campaign co-ordination and strategy questions should be directed to Wendy Foote. Anything to do with media liaison will be dealt with by Sharon Broady, questions about the Fostering NSW website should be directed to Liz Potten who will also answer enquiries about the Foster Forum and Social Media, and questions about the Enquiry line, referral process and FNSW resources should go to Savita Sanderson. All their details are available here.