Harnessing the Power of Data and Technology—Together

By Jason Weber and the More Than Enough Support Team

As we work together to fill the biggest gaps in foster care, it’s essential to draw on what’s already working well in other places. But we also need to address the unique challenges and opportunities where we live. It’s a crucial balance.

The world of technology and data—with its high price tags and specialized skill requirements—is an area where communities simply don’t have the resources to start from scratch. But they also can’t afford to retrofit clunky, cookie-cutter systems. This reality means tools in the sweet spot between the two can have an incredible multiplier effect on local foster care networks’ time, people, and funding.

So this summer, the More Than Enough Support Team facilitated an initial gathering of foster care leaders representing nine organizations that have developed cutting-edge data and technology tools to help serve children and families. 

The gathering focused on answering a crucial question: 

How might we coordinate data and technology efforts to equip local communities to effectively mobilize and track their progress towards more than enough? How might we prevent foster care networks from sinking time and resources into figuring out what to measure and how, or into creating systems and platforms that may already exist? 

On the first morning of the gathering, leaders shared about their tech platforms and the difference these technologies are making for children and families.

Understanding each other’s tools and celebrating their contributions set the stage for the next phase of the gathering: identifying opportunities to work together to support the whole More Than Enough Community across the US.

 

The leaders generated 56 opportunities. Out of these ideas, they narrowed the list to several collaborative projects to pursue together. Two initial projects include:

Launching a working group to recommend a core set of shared metrics that every community in the country can use to measure progress toward providing more than enough for children and families. This working group includes leaders of varying backgrounds, expertise, and locations, ensuring that these recommendations are helpful to the whole More Than Enough Community. 

Creating a comprehensive technology asset map that follows the entire foster care process. This map will help communities identify what technologies exist to support each stage in a family’s journey. It will connect local foster care networks to effective technologies, preventing them from reinventing the wheel or investing time and energy tracking down potential solutions. But the map will also help data and technology leaders in the foster care space identify crucial gaps where communities need new innovations, focusing their future development efforts.

The More Than Enough Support Team at CAFO is helping facilitate both of these next steps by coordinating logistics and supporting national and local leaders as they tackle the projects together. Collaborative projects like these are core to the Support Team’s work to unite leaders nationwide, working together to strengthen local foster care networks that mobilize churches in every US county.

As leaders and organizations collaborate, communities across the country will have more resources in the sweet spot between cookie cutters and scratch recipes, helping provide more than enough for children and families before, during, and beyond foster care.

To find support and tools to help your community work together to reach more than enough, check out our resources.