“Stay Interviews” Can Help Keep Lines of Communication Open

by Rick Zechman •

Report cards. Visits. Court. Shared parenting. Medical and therapy appointments.

Rick Zechman

Children’s achievements. The list goes on. Resource parents and their agencies have a lot to talk about!

Unfortunately, “immediate,” urgent topics tend to crowd out time for discussing important, longer-term things such as resource parents’ satisfaction with their role, their relationship with the agency, how they’ve grown, and what they need to keep going.

The “stay interview” is one solution to this problem. In a way, stay interviews are like the “exit interviews” businesses hold with employees who are leaving. But while exit interviews are about learning from someone who is on the way out the door, stay interviews are about discovering why people do what they do and how to hang on to them. They are a way for the agency to learn what resource parents love about fostering and how it can support them better.

See the box at right for some sample questions for a stay interview with resource parents. Stay interviews should be done on a regular basis—at least once or twice a year.

If you don’t already have stay interviews with your agency, consider asking your worker to set aside time during a visit to talk not only about questions and concerns, but about what would help you be a better resource parent. For example, maybe you’d like training on a particular subject. Your agency may have other resource parents with the same need, which could lead to larger training opportunities. Or, the agency could connect you with someone with expertise in the subject.

Stay interviews are not a cure-all, but they are a way to strengthen your relationship with your agency and keep lines of communication open. If your agency consistently listens to you and tries to meet your needs, you’re more likely to stick around. This benefits everybody—especially children.

Stay Interviews with Resource Parents: Sample Questions

  1. What will it take to keep you? What might make you stop working with us?
  2. Tell me about an experience that made you feel you really enjoy being a resource parent.
  3. Based on your experiences so far, what have you learned about your strengths?
  4. What skills would you like to develop more?
  5. How are things different than you thought they would be?
  6. What is confusing for you at this point?
  7. Of all the things you have done so far, what has been the most challenging?
  8. How is your relationship with our agency? What could make it better?
  9. How can we involve resource families more in our agency?
  10. Would you be willing to help recruit other resource parents?

Rick Zechman is an educational specialist with the UNC-CH School of Social Work