A couple of years ago, I was invited to use my strategic branding and marketing skills to serve children and families in the foster care system. A new highly competitive fellowship had launched, Foster America, and they were looking for dynamic individuals in the private sector to leverage their skills and expertise in the public sector to help make a difference. I was sold. But what sealed the deal was that Foster America had their sights on innovating the child welfare space. After having navigated the child welfare system as a preteen for eight years, I knew without a doubt that innovation was exactly what it needed. It was with this inspiration and enthusiasm that I began my 18-month commitment to innovate and bring quality services to children and families in need.
I had gathered some interesting observations while I was in the foster care system. I did the same during my two-year fellowship. What I found during both was disturbing. The foster care system does not put foster parents and the children and families they serve front and center. For starters, despite the pervasive presence of tech in all of our lives, foster care recruitment is still largely conducted by pen and paper.
In the era of apps, overwhelming 50- to 100-page foster parent applications are still being mailed in manila envelopes. Why? I looked closer and found an underlying message under all these piles of paper. It was plain and simple: We don’t have time for you. You need to figure things out on your own. Foster parents are on the frontlines of our child welfare system and this is how we treat them? But it doesn’t stop there. That message gets passed down to foster children and their families as well. Why? Because if foster parents are not valued and their time is not more strategically used, what hope do we have that the children they serve will receive quality care? Not much.
In this blog post series, I am going to break down what’s missing in child welfare technology and how it can help improve the foster care system for all involved. Foster parents, foster children, and separated families need to be connected, not isolated, and technology can help make this happen. I am also going to show you how tech can improve services to the foster parent community from recruitment to retention.
Lastly, I am going to geek out and share with you my vision for the future of child welfare tech and why it’s long overdue. Tech can be used for good. It can expose those most vulnerable to resources, each other, and a brighter future. Stay tuned.