Animal Welfare Professionals

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  • 1.  Foster Phone and burnout

    Posted 11-01-2021 04:06 PM
    I am posting this for my Foster Coordinator as she is taking a well deserved day off!
    For you Foster Care Coordinators:
    1). Do you have a foster phone for the fosters to contact?
    2). How is this managed without Foster Coordinator burn out?
    We go over in our handbook as well as in the recorded orientation what constitutes an emergency, but the foster phone is pinging constantly with texts well into the night and early hours of the morning with things that are not emergencies. Even if she ignores a non-emergency text, she still has to look the phone to find out if it was or was not emergency. How do the rest of you handle the phone so as not to burn out your Foster Coordinator?


    Kimberly Jones
    Humane Society of Washington County

  • 2.  RE: Foster Phone and burnout

    Posted 11-01-2021 04:20 PM
    I am the Foster Supervisor. We have one cat coordinator and one dog coordinator. I take all of the after hours calls for the team. Before we split the position I was the only coordinator and took all the after hours calls. I felt like it was a lot to ask and want the coordinators to have some off time. Because if you have that phone, you are always on edge! I would suggest at least having someone take the phone on the coordinators days off, just to really give them a break.


    Michelle Harmon
    Foster Supervisor
    LifeLine Animal Project at Fulton County Animal Services.

  • 3.  RE: Foster Phone and burnout

    Posted 11-01-2021 04:38 PM

    1). Do you have a foster phone for the fosters to contact?    
    Yes, the foster Manager carries it 24/7 

    2). How is this managed without Foster Coordinator burn out?   
    We tell them to use email whenever possible.  However that just postpones things a bit as foster email comes to the foster phone as well.  

    We also provide them with multiple handouts to cover some of the most common issues AND we have a form they can fill out to elicit a faster response from the shelter vet for fosters

    Ann Edwards

  • 4.  RE: Foster Phone and burnout

    Posted 11-02-2021 07:31 AM
    Hi There,

    I oversee our Foster Manager and foster program and yes she is connected to a foster emergency phone 24/7. She and I actually just did a zoom presentation on a national call about this. We are extremely clear with our expectations of fosters. The phone is only to be used in emergency situations (we remind fosters of that when they call or text with a nonemergency...obviously we're very nice about it, but firm), everything else needs to be emailed or they can call her office phone during her business hours.

    We have all fosters go through an orientation, a very well laid out foster training with a quiz at the end and then they have the foster mannual with all of the information needed in there. They sign a foster checklist with the emergency info listed out again. When a foster comes in for the first time to pick up a foster pet, they are again, reminded of the expectations and the use of the foster phone. So there's quite a bit of repetition with the info about use of the emergency foster phone. Our Foster Manager also checks in after the first day or so, especially with any medical cases. Usually questions can be answered then. 

    Hopefully this is helpful!

    Erin Ellis
    Community Engagement Director
    Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe

    Volunteer & Community Partnerships Specialist

  • 5.  RE: Foster Phone and burnout

    Posted 11-02-2021 07:50 AM
    Do you also have foster mentors? Volunteers who serve as mentors help to take a lot of this from the plates of coordinators and foster managers.

    Monica Frenden-Tarant
    Maddie's® Director of Feline Lifesaving
    American Pets Alive!

  • 6.  RE: Foster Phone and burnout

    Posted 11-02-2021 08:19 AM
    Everything mentioned above, plus having a foster resource page where all the information and links are listed for fosters, and a social media group where fosters can get to know one another and get support. 

    Adding some resources here that may be helpful:

    Video about the foster coach program at LifeLine Animal Project

    This folder has links to information and job descriptions from many different foster mentor programs all over the country, including the foster coach program in the video above.

    Kelly Duer
    Maddie's Fund


  • 7.  RE: Foster Phone and burnout

    Posted 12-01-2021 07:59 AM
    This is such a great question: foster team is the highest burnout role that we have, because we offer surround-sound support for our fosters. For this reason, we have a team of 3 foster coordinators (and are looking to add a 4th).

    For both ease and protection of our team's mental health, ALL of our communication happens through FB. In order for someone to adopt/foster through us, they must AT LEAST download FB messenger to their phone. They do NOT get our teams private phone numbers.

    When someone comes on as an approved f/a, our team starts a group chat with them. All members of the foster team (or adoption team, if it's an adopter) are added, as well as other team as it's necessary (medical, if there's a medical issue, training if there's a behavior issue).

    That way, people can be added/taken out as they're interested in the dog, or as a dog moved from f to a, and when the dog is adopted the convo is archived but acts as a history if the dog needs to come back to us or we need to remember a detail.

    We also have a very robust FB group for ALL fosters and adopters, past and present, where they can ask a question, pose a problem, and one of us can respond quickly and/or tag relevant team members.

    Britt Bolnick
    Pittie Posse Rescue & Sanctuary