The Challenge

A Quick Look at Foster Care in the United States

Foster care is a system created to protect and provide homes for children who have suffered abuse or neglect from their families/guardians. The foster care system in the US is subsidized and regulated by the government to provide health, safety, and a permanent home for approximately 200,000 kids.

Child Protective Services, the government’s foster care department, works extensively with a network of not-for-profit organizations, social workers, and others to provide a safe environment for the upbringing of the kids who have experienced abuse and neglect.

 What Happens to Kids Who Are Too Old for Foster Care?

Foster care is an incredibly imperative program for hundreds of thousands of children across the country so that they can grow up in an environment that will prepare them for adulthood. Unfortunately, once these kids reach adulthood and transition out of foster care, their safety nets are gone practically overnight. They’re left fending for themselves when it comes to education, employment, housing, food, and physical and mental health.

 

Sources :Infographic: Aging Out of Foster Care - CHLSS | 42 Aging Out of Foster Care Statistics - Finally Family Homes | NYTD Data Brief #7, November 2019 (hhs.gov)

They lose connections with their trusted network – Social Workers, Counsellors, Mentors- who could have guided them through the transition, resources to refer during a specific life event, identification documents (driver’s license, birth certificates, SSN) that are vital for them to be independent. Most importantly, they lose a chance to succeed and contribute to the society for no fault of their own.

Sparkhound partnered with Children’s Aid Society of Alabama (a not-for-profit organization) and the Alabama Department of Human Resources to leverage technology and solve some of these challenges.

The Vision

Children’s Aid Society wanted to embark on journey to develop the first of a kind solution to keep the aged-out kids connected with their support network, provide reliable resources, store vital documents and most importantly engage and support them in the digital age to increase the scale and success of the foster care program for Alabama.

Sparkhound brought this vision to life by architecting a wholistic technology solution that included a Mobile App (available on Android and Apple IOS) and an Admin Portal that provides CAS the flexibility to administer the nuances of the Mobile App on the fly without requiring extensive follow-up customizations.

The Solution

ILConnect (The Independent Living App) provides one click member onboarding, social media integration, a plethora of blog posts that sync with the webpages, videos, resources on varying subjects ranging from Financial Aid, Housing, Money Management and more. The Mobile app also provides Information on programs organized by foster care organizations.

The platform provides mass messaging service as well as targeted messaging service to let care givers and social workers to engage with the kids, along with a calendar to keep up with meetings and events - like the Camp LIFE summer events, Health Check Camps, Job Fairs - for the kids and staff to participate and benefit. One of the critical functionalities is the ability to securely store personal documents like Birth Certificates, Personal IDs, Educational Certificates, onto an e-vault, that could only be accessed through multi-level authentication.

The Outcomes

The Children’s Aid Society in partnership with Sparkhound pioneered a fully functional solution to engage and stay connected with the kids to create a lasting impact. While Children’s Aid Society of Alabama continues to advance their mission to help the children craft a future, Sparkhound is invested to advance the technology across the foster care ecosystem and partner with State Departments and other similar foster care agencies across the country and contribute towards their mission.

Learn more about Sparkhound and their commitment to helping underserved youths.

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