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White House Taps Technology to ‘Hack’ Challenges Facing Foster Care Youth

Several new policies, initiatives and tools were announced at the White House’s hackathon.

The White House held its first Foster Care & Technology Hackathon this week. Part of National Foster Care Month, the two-day event brought together child welfare leaders, nonprofit organizations, philanthropists and foster care families with engineers, technologists and other leaders from the technology sector to develop innovative solutions for the foster care system. At the event, the White House announced several new technology-focused steps aimed at improving outcomes for youth in the foster care system.

The first announcement was a “Final Rule” to the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information Systems (CCWIS), a set of regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that guide the use of technology in child welfare. “The regulations promote innovation and allow state and county child welfare agencies to use more effective technology to quickly identify youth and family needs and link them to services,” according to a news release.

In addition, the Administration for Children, Youth and Families announced a new partnership with the General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies to allocate $1 million to states as they procure child welfare data systems.

This matched a sum from the Pritzker Foster Care Initiative, which launched a $1 million Foster Care Technology Innovation Fund to advance nonprofit entrepreneurial efforts that will support young adults emerging from foster care with tools such as online solutions and mobile apps.

The Department of Education released the Foster Care and Transition Toolkit that provides children and youth in the foster care system useful resources to help transition into adulthood, continue to postsecondary education and obtain meaningful careers.

Similarly, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration launched GetMyFuture.org, a mobile-friendly web app for youth to plan careers, explore education and training opportunities and apply for jobs.

Lastly, the Walter S. Johnson Foundation and Foster Care Counts announced a commitment of $250,000 for a program to distribute free laptops for transition age foster youth in California. The coalition aims to distribute 10,000 laptops to foster youth ages 16-21 at an estimated cost of $5 million over the next three years.

Further information and the complete list of announcements from the hackathon is available on the White House site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at sravipati@1105media.com.

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