About the Fostering NSW Campaign The ACWA Foster Care Recruitment and Retention Project is made up of three components designed to complement each other – a public awareness campaign, run under the banner of Fostering NSW; sector resources to support agency recruitment and retention practices; and a state-wide information and enquiry service incorporating the Fostering NSW website and the 1800 2 FOSTER number (1800 236 783). This ongoing, state-wide public awareness campaign is designed to support the recruitment efforts of OOHC 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 this website or calling the 1800 number. The main Campaign elements include: Public Relations Social Media An interactive Foster Forum Advertising (across all media) Regularly updated Fostering NSW website 1800 number Information and Enquiry line Referral service for OOHC Agencies Supporting activities including local carer information sessions and engagement activities The Campaign is delivered through both traditional (broadcast, print and radio) and social media channels (Twitter, Facebook and YouTube). The Campaign commenced with a launch at Parliament House in May 2013, and has included highlights such as the release of a research paper on the “New Australian Family” highlighting the changing face of foster care, digital advertising and PR, a number of widely-shared video vignettes and a “foster song” entitled ‘Home is Where the Heart is’ written by the Banton Brothers and performed by foster child & X-Factor contestant Veanka Howard. The ongoing campaign has been supported by a steady press office output, a robust social media strategy, strong creative collateral, and various PR events designed to reinforce the key messages and ensure the topic of foster care remains on the media agenda and in the public eye. Marketing Strategy The Fostering NSW campaign is delivered impartially on behalf of the whole sector and utilises contemporary, innovative and evidence-based marketing strategies to: Increase general public awareness about foster care and the different caring options now available; Continue to build positive social norms around fostering; Encourage people to find out more about becoming a carer by visiting the Fostering NSW website or calling the 1800 number; Increase the number and quality of enquiries and applications across NSW; Position Fostering NSW as the key trusted and accurate source of information on fostering and the range of care options in NSW. The Marketing Strategy [upload latest] employs a number of complementary marketing and communications elements in order to achieve our key objectives. These include the following: Fostering NSW Website and 1800 Number Social Media PR / Media Communications Community Outreach / Grassroots Campaigning Regional and Out-of-Home-Care Agency Engagement Direct Marketing Advertising Marketing activities are rolled out over a sustained timeframe across all of these elements against a schedule of key events, and focussing on key target carer types that have been identified as priorities for the sector. This includes immediate ‘crisis’ carers, ‘restoration’ carers, Aboriginal carers, carers of older children and sibling groups, and foster carers who are willing to adopt a child from care. The campaign has a strong focus on social, digital and online media reflecting the shift in how the general public accesses information and the increased importance of these channels for marketing. Campaign Target Groups Specific groups are being targeted as part of the public awareness campaign. The primary target group is women aged between 30 and 50, because this group remains the main decision makers about foster care. Secondary targets include “empty nesters” (especially for short-term and respite care), same sex couples and caring professionals. Carers from Aboriginal and CALD communities are also being sought through targeted media outreach, resource development, advertising and grassroots activities. Publicity Material and Press Office Activity Publicity material and resources can be downloaded directly by agencies from the Publicity Toolkit [link]. This includes posters, flyers, calling cards and the original art files so that the creative material is available to everyone. ACWA has produced a Foster Care Recruitment Manual, and an Aboriginal Foster Care Recruitment Manual, each including template letters and press releases, and ACWA is continuing to develop a number of digital assets for agency websites. The public awareness campaign and PR activity aims to reach a statewide audience and hit national, state and local media. In order to maximise local coverage, template press releases relating to key campaign events are made available to agencies and regional groups so they can be tailored for local circumstances before being sent directly to local media contacts. Working Together For the public awareness campaign to be successful, particularly at a local level, ACWA needs and values the support of out-of-home-care providers and regional groups. It is crucial that the campaign is relevant and meeting local need, so ACWA asks agencies to prioritise the type of carers they need to target and any regional hotspots where there is a desperate shortage, and feed these on to the Fostering NSW Team. These priorities will help shape our PR plans so please feed it back regularly. ACWA also encourages agencies to join forces regionally to support the campaign by sharing resources and planning joint activities such as information sessions and engagement activities. Information Sessions are publicised here and via social media. How You Can Help Case studies: we want to showcase the great work that carers do but need recommendations on who would be suitable. If you haven’t already suggested potential case studies, please give it some thought and call or email Sharon Broady Brief staff: ensure your own staff and existing foster carers know what is occurring and how they can help Follow us on Twitter @FosteringNSW and like the Fostering NSW Facebook You can also get updates about the campaign by liking the ACWA Facebook page Planning: develop local strategies with other agencies in your area about how you intend to reach the carers you need Promote the campaign through your internal and external communication channels Make sure you are ready to respond promptly to enquiries from interested carers and that your agency details are up to date on the Fostering NSW website as well as your own. How We Communicate With You ACWA continues to communicate with agencies throughout the campaign through regular campaign email updates, regular updates through ACWA ‘What’s new?’ and ACWA News, briefings to ACWA’s sector-wide Media and Comms group, regional workshops and updates to Community Services. Social Media Social media plays a vital role in the success of the Fostering NSW campaign. The exponential growth in the use of social media by people of all ages, and from all walks of life over the last decade has provided a wonderful opportunity for organisations and campaigns to provide information and, more importantly, engage in conversation with their target audiences. We share interesting and engaging content, as well as answering questions and providing information about fostering to interested individuals via these channels. This supports the campaign to build up a healthy following and momentum to continue to grow throughout the life of the project. The use of social media in this way serves the project aims of informing the general public about what foster care is, the need for more foster carers, and to promote ‘good news’ stories around fostering to help change social norms about how fostering is viewed more broadly. Fostering NSW has a Facebook page, with over 41k followers. Fostering NSW is also on Twitter @FosteringNSW. Fostering NSW has a YouTube channel where we host all our campaign videos. These platforms have been created to support the PR activity to raise public awareness about the campaign. We have a weekly plan of activity, which is comprised of regular posts and tweets. The Fostering NSW social media platforms target the general public and specifically some of our targeted groups, often at specific times in the calendar (e.g. Families Week, Foster Care Week). ACWA appreciates your Agency’s support in building our social media audience and working with you in raising awareness of foster care. Foster Forum Why a Foster Forum? It is important for prospective foster carers to be provided with information that will help them make the right decision for their individual circumstances. Research conducted by ACWA and its partners at the beginning of the Fostering NSW Campaign indicated there was a unique opportunity to provide a Foster Forum to answer the questions prospective carers want answered. We believe this need is best met through engagement of current foster carers providing first-hand knowledge and real-world experience. We have hand-selected (via foster care agencies’ expertise) a small but diverse group of current foster carers to be part of this initiative. Through Fostering NSW, ACWA has launched the first local, online, dedicated fostering forum with fully-searchable content, to support and assist people who may be considering fostering or who are currently fostering. The Foster Forum aims to initiate relevant and interesting topics of conversation that enable people to learn more about the reality of fostering. The Foster Forum also aims to support people who are currently fostering by providing a place for guidance and a safe environment to have their questions answered by those with foster care experience. Without personal and individual engagement by experienced carers, it is often difficult to provide this level of expert advice and support. Practical Elements The Foster Forum is moderated by ACWA staff. The general public 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 the Forum Terms & Conditions. This gives moderators the ability to delete inappropriate posts, or warn and block spammers or malicious users. Confidentiality is maintained for individuals through the creation of usernames and passwords, and for children in care via strict moderation of adherence to our non-disclosure rules. We also request that no agencies or caseworkers be specifically named to avoid any inadvertent negative publicity. The Forum is designed to be a safe, reliable resource with a wealth of searchable information on fostering. The Foster Carer Ambassadors regularly log on to answer questions and offer advice to those who post questions about fostering on the Forum. The Forum Ambassadors are a network of current foster carers from all over NSW, and from all walks of life, so forum users can be assured they are receiving trustworthy information from a voice of experience. Our Ambassadors are carers affiliated with UnitingCare Burnside, Life Without Barriers, Allambi Youth Services, MacKillop Family Services, Samaritans, Challenge Children’s Services, Lifestyle Solutions and FaCS [update here & at Forum]. We also have a panel of Content Experts we can call on for more technical or legal questions. ACWA further supports the Forum by linking to it via the Fostering NSW social media channels to raise awareness of the Forum, and drive traffic to it.