Originally Posted By: ILGHAUSHow much control does your rescue have over fostering facilities?
This thread is about the physical setup (facility) and not about the foster as an individual.
How does your rescue determine if the home setup meets minimum standards of your organization?
Does your Board of Directors set up a minimum set of standards?
Who determins if the foster home meets these minimum standards?
a) Does one individual make the decision?
b) Does an individual/group check out the home and report back to a committee?
c) Is there any follow-up on an approved foster home? If so is it annually? More often?
d) Do you have a written policy on how to release a foster home from under the umbrella of your rescue? What is the procedure?
e) If you no longer use a certain foster for one reason or another then what happens to any animals in their care when you pull your support?
I can speak as a foster home to GSRNE since 2002.
GSRNE is pretty strict in terms of all this. When someone applies to foster, they fill out an application to foster to determine if they are going to meet the minimum requirements, such as the fence requirement, etc.
From there, someone from the foster home coordination group goes out to interview them in their home, meeting all family members as well as other dogs. If and once they are approved, then they are matched up with an appropriate dog to match their leadership skills, lifestyle, etc.
From there, the foster home coordinator will set up their home with a dog and supplies in person, especially the first time. I've been on these setups and it's a pretty thorough process, with training on the spot, review of safety, etc.
Once the dog is established in the foster home, there are periodic written reports that come in from the foster home, describing how the dog is doing. Of course, there are also emails and phone calls as needed, but the written reports are mandatory. These reports give the foster home coordinator and the rest of the team a chance to get to know the dog. If there are any behavioral issues, they send the Foster Home Trainor out to help the foster home work on the issues, and she will usually follow the dog into the adoptive home too if warranted. They really want to be sure both foster dog and foster family are all doing ok.
In the interim, I, as the photographer, will set up a formal photoshoot with the foster home, so there is yet another set of eyes on the dog, and those photos come into the team, including the board. Sometimes I'm personal friends with the foster home and so I see the foster dogs routinely, and then so does everyone else, through my photos.
Sometimes there is a sponsor who also exchanges information with the foster home, and the foster home stays close to GSRNE that way, too. By the way, ALL expenses for the dogs are paid for by the rescue, including high quality vet care, food, etc.
In the end, the Adoption Coordinator, who is part of the team that gets the reports and photos, is able to make a match with an adoptive family, who are often on standby waiting for their much anticipated new family member. Foster home input is invaluable, but they don't have the final say. I'm not sure if it's a board decision or if it just ends with the Adoption Coordinator.
I don't know the answer to your question about removing dogs from fosters or fosters from the rescue.
As you can imagine, the way the process is set up is labor and time intensive. And sometimes, after all the investment in a new foster home, they want to adopt their foster and we've lost them, and the whole process starts over with new foster homes. And it's never easy, because we cover all six states in New England, so often there is a lot of driving involved.
As a sidenote, last year I fostered two dogs for them. I'm part of the core team there, and many volunteers including board members, foster home coordinators, adoption coordinators, fundraising people, etc have been to my home over the years. Despite knowing me and my dogs really well, the President and the Foster Home Coordinator set the dog up in my home, with a new crate, box of goodies, and lots of paperwork to go over in terms of the specific needs of my foster. (Usually there is only one person to handle this, but they picked the dog up together and sometimes it turns into somewhat of a social outing, too).
We also have a foster home that has been fostering for ten years for us. I think last count was 9 dogs for him, or maybe more? I handle all his photoshoots, see him on average of once per week. Anyway, he just won foster home of the year. Yet still, every dog that comes into his house is brought to him by a key player in the rescue.
And in terms of our board members, I've been inside all their homes, including recently, as have many others. In fact, many of the meetings are held at their homes.
I think the point I'm trying to make is that GSRNE likes to keep control over every dog that comes in, not only for the sake of the dog, but also for the safety and well being of the foster homes.
Of course, there is definitely a downside to all this. It's a HUGE investment of time and labor for both the volunteers at the rescue, AND for the foster homes themselves, and so, things move along (or should I say 'crawl' along?) more slowly than most would like, and we have the same issue as everyone else, never enough foster homes (with many approved adopters patiently waiting). But I've heard it said they won't sacrifice their standard of quality to raise their numbers.
As another sidenote, as I've mentioned before, is that their philosophy is that it's 50% about the dogs, and 50% about the people. Because RECRUITMENT of foster homes is so hard, I think it's really important to focus on RETENTION, keeping your volunteers happy AND healthy, establishing a platform to help them succeed at whatever it is they're signed up for, including fostering, and of course, never forgetting to say thank-you, thank-you, thank-you.