Date of Award

Spring 6-8-2018

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Chaney Christine

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Caleb Henry

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Blaire Lessor


Foster care, Job Advertising, Adoption, job marketing


Since 2014, Washington state’s Department of Child and Family Services (DSHS) has seen a dramatic drop in foster care providers. From 2005 to 2015, only 102 of 1,100 foster families licensed in 2005 were still providing care. As of 2015, the number of available homes has dropped to more than 1,000 below the normal level (at 4,600. homes.) Many issues are cited as contributing to these numbers, such as problematic administrative practice, unbearable social worker caseloads, and a sluggish system unresponsive to change. Other problems include an increase in behavioral problems amongst children coming into the system. This project seeks to suggest that one exacerbating force to the pre-existing problems, ceteris parabis, with foster care is the recruitment efforts employed by television advertisements. The specific ads implemented by Washington’s area administration are pulled from the national AdoptUSKids organization, entitled “The Perfect Parent” campaign. These ads fail to recruit desired applicants and deter undesired applicants, because their depictions are mismatched with the realities of the job. As such, the campaign undermines itself by recruiting the wrong demographic. This then serves to create a negative conception of the foster parent job as current (unideal care providers) relay their experience to the ideal demographic of potential parents who would be better matched with the job. This, in the long-run, ultimately harms the agency’s efforts to recruit and retain foster families.