Saving Lives

Lollypop Farm Foster to Adopt

Contributed By:
Lollypop Farm, the Humane Society of Greater Rochester

Gillian Hargrave, Director of Strategic Initiatives
99 Victor Road
Fairport, NY 14450
Phone: 585-223-1330
www.lollypop.org

Sometimes the most effective program starts small and by accident. Such is the case of a new twist on foster care at Lollypop Farm. A particular volunteer who went through adoption counselor training at the shelter asked if she could adopt her fosters right from her home.

Why not? was the response from Gillian Hargrave, Director of Strategic Initiatives.

Going with the Flow (of Animals)

Although the name Lollypop Farm conjures up images of sunshine and candy, moving animals out of the shelter into loving homes is serious business. Hargrave says the impetus to analyze their foster program began when they scrutinized the path an animal travels in their shelter cycle. Hargrave broke it down into sections - from intake vaccinations to spay/neuter to adoptions - and here they found the bottleneck.

One Good Thing Leads to Another

The shelter's analysis of the flow of animals identified places where animals or potential adopters were getting stalled by the agency's operating procedures. The agency developed new processes to address the logjams:

  • Clients were often waiting up to an hour to meet with a counselor. In response, the shelter recruited and trained volunteer feline counselors especially for peak times.
  • This, in turn, led to creating an adoption counselor training program for the volunteers.
  • Foster families who want to adopt from their home can now go through adoption counselor training. In addition, they spend time at the shelter and do adoption counselor mentoring at the shelter. According to Hargrave, this helps ground everyone in common language and guidelines.
  • Once trained, these foster families can act as "adoption agents:" marketing their foster animals, e-mailing and chatting with prospective adopters, and circumventing the common shelter log-jam of fosters returning to the shelter.

How's It Working?

While Foster Care and Adoption Counseling are separate programs at Lollypop, Hargrave reports that the cross-over benefit has been impressive for both programs.

And the icing on the cake? Some staff fosters will contact volunteers who adopt from home to market and place their foster animals instead of bringing them back to the shelter.


 

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