April 24, 2003
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg And ACS Commissioner William C. Bell Launch Foster Parent Recruitment Ad Campaign To Recruit Homes For Children In Foster Care
Campaign Will Begin In May To Coincide With Foster Parent Recognition Month
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) has created a new advertising campaign to recruit foster parents in New York City. The advertisements will begin appearing on billboards, radio, television, subways, phone kiosks, bus shelters and in newspapers in May to coincide with Foster Parent Recognition Month. Printing and placement of the advertisements cost approximately $750,000 with additional in-kind placements totaling and estimated $375,000. ACS Commissioner William C. Bell and foster parents from New York City who appear in the television advertisements joined the Mayor at City Hall for the announcement.
“It is critical for children who are in foster care in New York City to live in safe, stable, loving and permanent homes,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Today’s foster care is better than it has ever been with tremendous training and better support systems called ‘Circles of Support’ for foster parents. Today’s foster care also employs a neighborhood-based approach so that children can remain in their neighborhoods of origin close to their family, friends, schools, doctors and health care resources. I urge any New Yorker who has ever considered being a foster parent to call 311 to inquire about the process because we all must do more to support the City’s most vulnerable youth.”
The campaign is particularly focused in the neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn; Central Harlem, Manhattan; Concourse/Highbridge, Bronx; and Jamaica, Queens. These are four of the 18 “high need” community districts where the most children who are in foster care come from. Today there are approximately 25,400 children in foster care in New York City with 8,500 children coming into care last year. Of the total 25,400 there are roughly 10,000 who have a permanency goal of adoption.
“Becoming a foster parent is a very real way to make all the difference in the world to a child in need. ACS is particularly interested in recruiting parents who can foster sibling groups, teenagers and medically fragile children,” said Commissioner Bell. “ACS is committed to placing children in loving, family settings where they can thrive. This advertising campaign will not only help us recruit new foster parents but also retain existing foster parents, which is critical to ACS’s ongoing mission of protecting children and strengthening families.”
True Insight Marketing and Linx Communications created the advertising campaign after a year of intense research on a qualitative and quantitative basis. Two series of focus groups were conducted; the first concentrated on the core motivations behind becoming a foster parent and included both existing and prospective foster parents. The second series of groups were asked to view and comment on five unique creative executions.
In addition, a 600-person telephone survey conducted for ACS by the University of Connecticut last year found that in 16 of the high need community districts, nearly all (95%) of current foster parents in these neighborhoods reported a positive experience in working with ACS in today’s foster care. Additionally, a majority of current foster parents (83%) and prospects (58%) believe that ACS is doing a good or very good job of helping children in need of families.
In addition to calling 311 to inquire about becoming a foster parent, people can log onto www.nyc.gov to view the ACS Family Album, a color photo album which provides prospective parents with an introduction to the foster children in ACS’s care who are waiting to be adopted. Other key ACS foster and adoptive parent recruitment and retention and adoption initiatives
- Circles of Support. A network of community-based support groups for foster and adoptive parents in each of the five boroughs. Currently there are 15 Circle of Support groups citywide.
- Wednesday's Child. Each Wednesday, the broadcast features a NYC foster child or sibling group who is waiting for a permanent family. In 1999, ACS teamed up with the Freddie Mac Foundation and NBC News 4, with host Meteorologist Janice Huff, to bring Wednesday's Child to NYC.
- The Daily News’ “A Child Is Waiting” feature. Each month, the Daily News devotes an entire page to children from the NYC Family Album who are in need of a permanent family. The feature began in April 2001 and has generated hundreds of calls from New Yorkers interested in foster and adoptive parenting.
- NYC Adopt: Finding Families for Children. This annual event provides an opportunity for prospective adoptive parents to learn more about the process of adoption through the City of New York. The event is typically held in the fall in Central Park’s East Meadow.
- The Parent Recruitment Hotline through 311. The Hotline is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday - Friday, and is staffed by trained adoption representatives.
- Adoption Saturday. In collaboration with the NYC Family Court, a record 300 adoptions of children in the City's foster care system were finalized on this one day last year.
To celebrate Foster Parent Recognition Month, on May 15, ACS will hold the second annual Golden Heart Awards Gala at the Downtown Brooklyn Marriott to honor outstanding foster parents, organizations and individuals who have made an exceptional commitment to children in foster care.