AUSTIN, Texas — As National Foster Care Month comes to an end, KVUE is highlighting a new app whose developers hope it will transform the foster care system.
The app is called FosterShare and it was launched by an organization called Miracle Foundation. According to Leslie Beasley, CEO of Miracle Foundation, 60% of foster parents drop out in the first year of fostering and 90% of agencies have trouble retaining caseworkers.
Beasley said this is partly due to the overwhelming amount of paperwork that fostering requires. FosterShare aims to alleviate some of that stress.
"What the digital assistant does is it obviously digitizes the paperwork," Beasley said. "It makes it all streamlined so they can just, in a touch of a button, send it over to their caseworker."
As for caseworkers, the app helps them sort through cases, prioritizing the ones that matter.
"If a family says something about themselves or their child that needs attention, that AI [artificial intelligence] grabs it, takes it to the caseworker," Beasley said. "Now, the caseworker has these critical cases that immediately escalate to the top of their stack. So, then, they're able to see, 'Oh, here's my critical cases. I can deal with these first.' And that takes a big burden off the caseworkers."
Beasley said improving the workflow between parents and caseworkers will do a lot of good for kids in the foster care system. She said if more parents continue in the fostering process, many children will stop bouncing around between houses.
"What happens is for every bounce, they lose about three months of academic progress," Beasley said. "So, when they bounce seven times — that's the average child — at seven times, they've lost two years of academic progress. So, what happens is a foster child gets dramatically behind in school. The statistics show us that that becomes a pipeline to prison, a pipeline to homelessness, a pipeline to suicide."
So far, FosterShare has been a success. Destiny Bowers is the foster mom to a 16-month-old and said the app has helped her tremendously.
"It gives the foster family more support," Bowers said. "If you're having issues or you're challenged, they can come in and support you better."
Especially when there are so many things foster parents have to do.
"You have all the foster paperwork," she said. "You have medical logs, you have doctor paperwork for doctor's appointments. And so, it's just a lot of, you know, paperwork. So, it was a little overwhelming at first."
For now, the app is only available in Texas. But in the coming months, its developers hope to expand to other states.
PEOPLE ARE ALSO READING: