Client: Birmingham City Council
PR Team: Consumer and customer relations team
Campaign: Adoption and fostering recruitment
Timescale: October - December 2001
There is a shortage of foster parents across the UK. It is believed that
one of the reasons for this is a lack of awareness of how to apply; or
would-be foster carers believe they would not qualify as they lack the
right background or the appropriate marital status.
Birmingham has almost 2,000 children in foster care, placed up for
adoption or in residential care. Although the city has 700 foster
carers, it was only recruiting, on average, 140 carers a year - a number
far outstripped by demand.
Following a restructuring of social services, a fostering recruitment
centre was launched in Birmingham on 9 October. This move aimed at
centralising enquiries and enabling the public to drop-in or call a
single hotline for more information.
Birmingham City Council decided to run a PR campaign to raise awareness
of the centre and to generate enquiries about becoming a carer.
To spread the message that many people - older, younger, married, single
and with or without children - can adopt or become foster carers. To
generate at least 1,200 enquiries.
Strategy and Plan
The council's communications and customer relations department needed to
target different audiences as different kinds of carers were needed,
from emergency foster carers, to sibling carers.
Due to the increase in invitro fertilisation treatment and childless
couples seeking help from overseas adoption services or orphanages,
there was a general misconception that there are no young children up
The PR team decided to kick off the campaign by focusing on this area
first of all with a 'baby' campaign using bus advertising, and
advertorials in the local press, using the strapline: 'Can you find room
in your life ... for a child who needs you?'
To illustrate the relative straightforwardness of the process involved
to become a carer, interviews with some foster carers and adopters who
had already been through it were provided for the local press, radio and
Community radio was used attract interest from Afro-Caribbean and Asian
groups. The council followed up the 'baby' campaign with a similar
Measurement and Evaluation
Ongoing measurement of the campaign means final figures are unavailable.
To date, the campaign has received coverage in the local press and radio
and a piece on the local TV news programme, Midlands Today, which
generated enquiries from viewers interested in becoming carers.
The City Council has so far received 750 enquiries towards its annual
target of 1,200. In the month before the campaign began there were just
61 enquiries. One-hundred and 11 applicants are being assessed and have
started the process to become carers with, the council says, a mix of
Asian, Afro-Carribean and white carers coming forward.