Foster care is the ideal place to house homeless pets: it’s a humane, cost-effective and safe alternative to the confinement and stress of kennel housing. We want to help you grow your foster program!
We’ve gathered some of the best foster program resources that will help you start and expand your foster program by recruiting more caregivers, increasing efficiency and ultimately, saving more lives.
Print them out, read them, edit them and make them your own.
- Foster Program Basics
- Expanding a Foster Program
- Types of Foster Programs
(Field Trips, Sleepover/Weekend Foster, Adult Dog Foster, Foster to Adopt, Emergency Foster)
- Resources for Foster Caregivers
Foster Program Basics
Thinking of starting a foster program but not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered! From everything you wanted to know about starting a foster program, to a beginner’s course on Maddie’s® University - check out the resources below.
- Everything You Need to Know About Starting a Foster Program
This document outlines the steps to building a foster program or pilot program and includes links to resources and templates.
- Maddie’s® University Course: How to Build a Foster Program
This online course introduces you to the steps in creating a new foster program.
- Seven Guiding Principles for Foster Care Programs
- Foster Agreement Template
Pima Animal Care Center’s foster agreement has been reviewed by multiple district attorneys. You can use this as an example to create your own.
- Foster Application Template
This is a template you can use to gather potential foster caregiver information via pen and paper or online.
- Dog Foster Manual
- How to Adopt from Foster Care - Pima Animal Care Center
Written for foster caregivers, this guide lays out the steps needed in order to choose an adopter for their foster pet and complete their adoption at home.
Expanding a Foster Program
Ready to take your foster program to the next level? Look no further! Grow your program and increase efficiency with the resources below.
- Everything You Need to Know About Expanding Your Foster Program
The steps outlined here will help grow your program and increase efficiency. Included are helpful resources and template.
- Foster Program Assistant Job Description
Here’s a job description for volunteer foster program assistants.
- What Market Research Tells Us About Recruiting Foster Caregivers
Learn what our market research says about the most effective messaging strategies, targeting and techniques for recruiting foster caregivers.
- Recruit, Repurpose, Recycle: How to Get More Pets into Foster Care Right Now
This article details the many techniques you can use to put more pets in foster.
- Foster Friday everyday:
Creating a community that values fostering
- Comprehensive Recruitment Plan
- Recruit, Reengage, Renew (webcast)
- Blog: How one of our nation's most successful foster programs is recruiting their fosters
- Blog: 6 Tips for recruiting fosters for pets behavioral needs
- Foster Support: Supporting and Engaging Fosters During COVID-19 (webcast)
- Foster Support and Engagement at San Diego Humane Society (webcast)
Adoption From Foster Care
- Adoption from Foster Care: Empowering Fosters to Market Pets from Foster Care (webcast)
- How to create a process for marketing and adopting pets from foster care
Additional Types of Foster Programs
In addition to the more traditional types of fostering, short-term types like field trip and sleepover/weekend programs are becoming a huge hit, along with adult dog fostering. See the resources below for everything you need to know to start or enhance your current program.
It's amazing what a few hours outside of the shelter can do for a dog! Data from an ongoing study suggests foster field trips can help improve welfare in dogs, increase adoption chances and create other advantages for the organization caring for the dogs. To get started, check out the toolkit and research below.
- Field Trip Pilot Program Toolkit
Toolkit includes a program preview and checklist, best practices, a job description for a program assistant, marketing plan and press release.
- Foster Field Trip Study Summary
This project evaluated whether foster field trips at Louisville Metro Animal Services improve dog welfare.
- Foster Field Trips: A Gateway to Community Engagement in Getting Pets Adopted
Learn why field trips might be just the thing to help increase your adoptions, learn more about pets and engage with your community. This webcast will teach you the basics of creating and running one.
- Short-term foster and field trips
This course will teach you how to create and run lifesaving programs such as field trips, sleepovers and emergency foster, which require a shorter commitment than is typically asked of foster caregivers.
Sleepover and weekend foster programs are a great way to get pets out of the shelter for a short break. Great for the pet and to gather additional information about that particular pet in an outside or home setting for marketing to prospective adopters.
Check out the toolkit for how-to’s on setting up a pilot program, a sleepover or a short-term foster program. Additionally, there is an insightful study from Arizona University on the benefits of temporary fostering on shelter dogs.
- Sleepover/Weekend Foster Toolkit
This toolkit includes a pilot program template, a program preview with steps to be taken, best practices, a checklist for starting new programs, a job description for a program assistant, a marketing plan and a press release
- Sleepover Study Summary
This Arizona State University project investigated the benefits of temporary fostering on shelter dog welfare at four animal shelters in the United States.
- Foster Sleepovers: How Temporary Fostering Can Improve the Lives of Shelter Dogs
Learn what the research says about sleepover foster care and the basics of creating and running your own program.
- Field Trip and Sleepover Report Card - Pima Animal Care Center
This is a report that short-term fosters can fill out on their experience with the pet in their care. The report can be placed in the pet’s file or on their shelter kennel for easy viewing by potential adopters.
Adult Dog Foster
Expanding an existing adult dog foster program will increase your capacity and most importantly your lifesaving. The Maddie’s University course will show you how. The Adult Dog Foster Study will provide you with the summary of effects of foster care on medium to large dogs.
- Maddie’s® University Course: Growing Your Adult Dog Foster Program
This course will teach you how to increase the capacity of your existing program through effective communication and marketing, improved logistics and use of volunteers. The course is especially focused on fostering and finding homes for dogs who are harder to place.
- Adult Dog Foster Study Summary
The goals of this study were: to assess the effect of foster care on medium to large dogs at multiple shelter locations in the United States; to assess the impact of the foster program on shelter staff morale; and to compare CBARQ results of foster dogs in the project to the existing database of owned dogs meeting study criteria.
- Dog Foster Manual - Pima Animal Care Center
Use this dog foster manual as a template for your own!
Foster to Adopt
- Foster to Adopt Manual - Pima Animal Care Center
Use this manual as a template for your foster to adopt program, where members of the community temporarily foster a pet with the goal of integrating the pet into their home permanently.
- COVID-19 Emergency Foster
The class will help you create an emergency foster plan to respond to a crisis in your own shelter or rescue, issue successful foster pleas, create a press release and network with your peers in other shelters and rescues.
- Emergency Foster Packet - Austin Animal Center
Emergency foster initiatives can be a lifeline for organizations during natural disasters, population crises, outbreaks of illness, building renovations and more. Use this packet as a template for your program.
- 6 Tips for Using Emergency Foster Care as a Lifeline During Animal Shelter Crises
- Communicating Urgency without Negativity in Emergency Fostering
- Emergency Foster Plea Templates
- 6 Tip to bring in adopters and fosters
Safety Net Foster
Resources for Foster Caregivers
The following resources were developed to help you in supporting your foster caregivers. Simply pass on the links to connect fosters with free, online courses, short how-to videos and more!
- Bringing a new dog home
In this class, short videos will help you understand your dog's body language and give your dog the basic training they need to be successful in their new home.
- Marketing your foster pet
This class will give you the inside scoop on successful pet marketing. You'll learn tips and tricks for taking great photos and videos and writing social media posts that will help you and your shelter make the perfect match for your foster pet. The class is directed to foster caregivers but is equally useful for shelter staff involved in pet marketing.
- Using social media to help shelter pets shine
This course will help foster caregivers as well as shelter and rescue social media administrators successfully market pets on social media to find adoptive homes.
- Foster Flash Classes
These short, instructional classes cover individual topics that foster care givers encounter while caring for our beloved furry friends.
- Six guidelines for marketing your foster pet
This short blog highlights 6 tips when marketing foster pets from your home.
- The foster caregiver marketing guide
This comprehensive guide details multiple strategies for marketing pets from foster care.