Associate Professor Melanie Randle is an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award recipient, based at the University of Wollongong, who has been working closely with non-profit and government organisations to increase the number of foster care placements through better marketing and recruitment strategies.

The project focussed on foster carer recruitment, as local agencies were having difficulty attracting enough carers for the number of foster children needing homes. The research question was: What types of people make particularly successful foster carers, and what marketing strategies would be most successful in attracting them to the role?

Associate Professor Randle and her team worked with several non-profit organisations, including CareSouth, CatholicCare Wollongong, and William Campbell Foundation to develop marketing campaigns that specifically target individuals with the right combination of skills, experience and personal characteristics to be foster carers.

As a result of their program of research all partner organisations saw an increase in their numbers of foster carers—for example CareSouth increased its foster carers from 32 in 2008 to 294 in 2016—an increase of over 900 per cent, while William Campbell Foundation increased the number of children placed in care from 27 in 2011 to 104 in 2016, an increase of 285 per cent.

Image: Associate Professor Melanie Randle, University of Wollongong.
Image credit: University of Wollongong