Our StartUp Bus journey building an innovation in foster care

We are Foster Success. As I write, we are driving through the heart of the Rocky Mountains with spotty wireless internet and frequent stomach-wrenching, sickness-inducing curves in the road. It’s a race against the clock, dear reader, and I may not make it to the end of this post.

The StartUp Bus is well documented on Medium. I don’t need to repeat to you how intrepid we ‘buspreneurs’ are and how intense and life-changing the experience is. What I do need to tell you about is the problem we are solving and why we are passionate about it.

Foster Success have chosen to bring much needed innovation to the social care system. In the United States, 500,000 children are in foster care. These children are at a much higher risk of arrest, incarceration, dropping out of school, and drug and alcohol abuse. They also have a much higher rate of mental health issues, and remain largely undiagnosed due to lack of dedicated care.

New foster parents are sorely lacking support. They often get no information on a child’s background or health records, and contact with overstretched social workers is sporadic. Undiagnosed mental health issues manifest themselves in other ways — from performing poorly at school to acting aggressively — which causes children to bounce from one foster home to another, feeling unloved and insecure. The vicious cycle continues.

But we can break this cycle! All children need to feel accepted, supported and loved before they can believe that they are worth something. It only takes one meaningful relationship to change a child’s life. Children who are adopted out of foster care are 50% less likely to be arrested, 23% more likely to graduate from high school, and 200% (two hundred percent!) more likely to receive much-needed mental health support.

This is where Foster Success comes in, dear reader. We have built a mobile app for foster parents to enable them to build that meaningful relationship with their foster children, and monitor their mental health. This is how we work:

  1. Parents are prompted through the app to regularly check in with their foster child and record their responses
  2. Over time, these responses are aggregated to create a profile of the foster child. Foster Success uses predictive analytics to identify potential issues (such as ADHD or attachment disorder).
  3. We provide resources from trained professionals (mental health therapists, care-workers and paediatricians) around these specific issues
  4. We provide a discussion forum for foster parents to connect, discuss issues and share their stories. Because however difficult a situation may be, it will never be the first time it has happened.

In summary: If you are a foster parent, social worker or health-care professional, we need your help! Please sign up to our mailing list at www.fostersuccess.co to show your support, and send this to as many of your foster networks as possible.

Thank you in advance! And see you at in Boulder, CO tomorrow for pitch day ;)