Mapping a Delicate Ecosystem

How we helped the Department of Health & Human Services and Foster Care Association of Victoria with the trickiest of communication problems: “selling” the benefits of becoming a foster carer, whilst acknowledging the multitude of challenges that come with the role.

The Problem

We feel extraordinarily lucky on a regular basis that we get to partner with clients doing work that matters.

Not to suggest that the dozens of workshops we sketch, or the videos we animate, or the posters we create don’t have an impact or aren’t worthwhile. But sometimes a project comes along that humbles you, and you feel honoured to be a part of.

Sketching the Foster Carer Journey for the Department of Health & Human Services was one of those projects. The brief was to create a poster that realistically portrayed the journey of a foster carer, from initial interest through to fostering multiple children and beyond.

At a Glance

  • Project: Foster Carers Poster
  • Client: Department of Health & Human Services, Foster Care Association of Victoria
  • Delivered: June, 2019
  • Duration: 3 months
  • Category: Government, Custom Illustration, Facilitation

Our Approach

We worked with folks from DHHS and the Foster Carer’s Association of Victoria to:

• prepare questions to ask carers before the day
• plan a series of activities and visual aids to solicit stories from foster carers
• facilitate the workshop on the day, including members from DHHS, Foster Care organisations, and current and former carers
• synthesise and polish the findings into an illustrated journey map that could be used by the department to raise awareness about the crucial role that foster carers play in our society, as well as help identify opportunities for improving and optimising the overall system.

Our Solution

Because of the sensitive nature of the subject matter, we decided collectively that there was value in creating two versions of the poster—one that would be useful for recruiting, retaining, and raising awareness of foster carers, and another version that was more suitable for internal use. This internal version was more focussed on helping members of DHHS and agencies to identify opportunities where the overall system could be improved.

We were faced with the challenge of walking a fine line between wanting to shout from the rooftops about what amazing work foster carers do for our community, with painting a realistic picture that accurately portrays the fact that being a foster carer is hard.

Some of the stories that came out on the day were heartbreaking, and the weight of responsibility to capture and visualise those emotions was enormous.

The Outcome

We were extremely proud of the final result, which was a truly collaborative effort from the department, agencies, carers, advocates, and several members of the Sketch Group team. One thing that we learned from the project is that there is much greater demand than there are available foster carers, so we hope the small part we played in creating this journey map goes some way to helping increase the number of Victorians who decide to volunteer to foster a child.

Katie Hooper Chief Executive Officer, Foster Care Association of Victoria

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