I recently had the opportunity to present at a national institute on technology for the health and human services marketplace. Much to my surprise, I was teamed up with a newly formed company called Foster Care Technologies that created a computerized, evidenced based “matching” program for children in need of a foster home.
As a retired CEO of a full continuum treatment center for children, including a network of foster homes, I had never come across this type of innovation. And I must admit I was happily surprised. I learned that the computer program called ECAP, (Every Child A Priority) inputs significant and relevant data on the characteristics of the child needing placement in a foster home and also important data on the foster home parents. Much like the very popular technology of the match.com program, this unique platform finds the most appropriate and compatible foster parent for the child in need of fostering. It also recommends the level of care that child needs.
So, why am I excited by this new technology? Because it addresses a chronic problem that states are experiencing in regard to children having multiple foster care placements. Finally a tool that can lead to a better outcome for children! And according to research done by the University of Kansas, it saves a significant amount of money for the state that is paying for this foster home care.
As professionals in the health and human service field, we must all remember that “placement stability” is a national human service priority. The Child and Family Service Reviews (CFSR) conducted by the government of the States since the year 2000, reveal that many states are still failing to meet this standard that gives a child a sense of stability and permanency.
My professional experience in delivering foster home services plus research studies that I have reviewed helped me to better understand that children who experience multiple disruptions of their living arrangements can have lasting effects on their present and future life. Imagine what it must be like for a child to be removed from his/her family and placed in a foster home. And then in a few weeks the foster family believes that the behaviors and personality of the child is not something they can handle or tolerate. This prompts another placement into another foster home with a new set of foster parents. For some difficult children, this cycle continues. I know this first hand as many of the children I treated had multiple foster home disruptions. The result is trauma and a reinforced attitude that they must not make attachments to their caregiver. In my professional opinion, after talking to many foster children who aged out of the system, multiple placement moves ultimately made them feel that they were kept in the human service system for longer periods of time and this contributed to their feelings of anger, isolation and negative self-worth.
With the rapid development of technology in today’s society I knew it was only a matter of time that someone would venture into creating a tool that can aid us in our placement decisions for children. It has arrived and I believe this is just the beginning of a trend for technologies to be created and applied to achieve greater outcomes for the children in our care.
I say “BRAVO” to Foster Care Technologies for being the first to address placement stability through their innovative system! Check this company out and read their white paper at: www.fostercaretech.com .
Howard Shiffman, M.A. is a private consultant with over 45 years of successful organizational and business experience in human service fields including expertise in executive management, strategic planning, business development, finance, marketing, market intelligence research, fundraising, and board development. Mr. Shiffman is presently a Senior Associate with OPEN MINDS, a national market intelligence and consulting organization.