Foster care communications plan - foster teen with bright purple hair

In times of crisis, your foster care agency needs a well-prepared and tailored communication plan to effectively address challenges while ensuring the safety and well-being of youth in your care. 

We offer the following crisis communication plan outline, providing you a step-by-step guide in navigating potential crises while maintaining transparency, trust, and open communication with key stakeholders.

  1. Designate Key Stakeholders

Identify the audiences who will play a crucial role in crisis communication. These may include agency leadership, foster care parents, staff members, program partners, board members and volunteers. Assign clear roles and responsibilities to ensure a coordinated response.

  1. Tools for Communication

Utilize various communication channels to disseminate information quickly and effectively. These may include:

  • Emails and Newsletters: Send regular updates, guidelines, and important announcements to foster care parents, staff, and other stakeholders.
  • Website and Social Media: Update your website with appropriate messaging about your crisis. On social media, give real-time information, answer questions, and address concerns.
  • Phone Hotline: Establish this dedicated phone line for inquiries and emergencies, ensuring someone is available to respond promptly.
  1. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Prepare a set of FAQs that address common concerns and inquiries from foster care parents, your staff, and the public. Anticipate potential questions about crisis situations and provide clear, concise, and compassionate responses. Keep these FAQs readily accessible on your website and distribute them through other communication channels.

  1. Employee Communication Plan

Internal communication is crucial during a crisis. Develop an employee communication plan that includes:

  • Regular Updates: Keep employees informed about the situation, any changes in protocols, and actions being taken to address the crisis.
  • Internal Meetings: Conduct regular team meetings to share updates, answer questions, and address concerns.
  • Support Resources: Provide resources and contact information for mental health support or counseling services for employees dealing with the emotional impact of a crisis.
  1. Managing Media Inquiries

Prepare designated spokesperson(s) to handle media inquiries and provide accurate information. Establish media protocols, including:

  • Media Training: Ensure designated spokesperson(s) receive media training to effectively communicate key messages and maintain a consistent tone.
  • Media Statements: Develop templated media statements that address different types of crises, ensuring they are empathetic, informative, and sensitive to the unique circumstances of foster care situations.
  • Media Monitoring: Regularly monitor media coverage to address any inaccuracies or misconceptions and proactively respond to emerging issues.
  1. Regular Review and Update

Regularly review, revise and practice your crisis communication plan to ensure its effectiveness. Conduct drills and simulations to test the plan’s responsiveness and identify areas for improvement. Seek feedback from stakeholders and incorporate their insights into refining the plan.

When you follow a tailored crisis communication plan, your agency can effectively address crises, mitigate potential harm, and maintain trust and transparency with their stakeholders. You will ensure you can navigate difficult situations while prioritizing the safety and well-being of the children in your care.