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My Plea to Tech Leaders on Behalf of 400,000 Kids

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 28/03/2016 Danielle Gletow
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Recently I met with a leading advocacy organization at my office in Trenton, NJ. We spoke passionately for hours about the foster care system and its flaws. We bounced around ideas on how to make lives better and brighter for the over 400,000 children who are living in it each year.
The frustrating thing is that this wasn't the first time I've had this conversation. I've had it with my Board of Directors. I've had it with my staff. I've had it with other leaders in the field of child advocacy and child welfare. But I haven't yet had a chance to have it with the people I think can help us make some bold, significant and necessary changes: the leaders of the tech world.
So here is my plea to the tech leaders who have brought us apps that make it possible for strangers to hook up with a simple swipe, websites that help people find love by matching their interests and values and social networks that allow us to share our random thoughts, food pics, political musings and numerous memes with friends we haven't seen in 20 years. I am calling on all of them to dedicate some of their brain power, time and financial resources to these children who desperately need our help.
Before I became a foster adoptive parent 10 years ago I was like most of these tech leaders and most Americans. I didn't know a lot about foster care; how it helped or hurt the kids in it, or what I could possibly do to help these children...or even, why I should. But now I do know and the facts are horrifying.
I know that kids in foster care can change homes and schools dozens of times in the course of a single year disrupting their education, health and overall emotional well-being. I know that foster children suffer from PTSD at nearly the same rate or greater than veterans of combat. I know that foster children make up the largest majority of our current prison population. I know that we don't have enough quality foster parents or foster homes. I know that abuse and neglect is still a major issue even within the system itself. I know that only about 2% of all kids who age out of foster care graduate from college. I know that over 100,000 kids in the US are waiting for a family.
So what if we applied the same innovation it took to build Uber or eHarmony or Facebook or Twitter to address the lack of connectivity and information sharing between state systems? What if we took the same measured and detailed approach to matching families and children that we have to matching couples? What if we used big data to ensure that we were directing the appropriate services to each child based on their unique, individual needs?
The possibilities for better outcomes for our children are endless. The need is great. And the clock is ticking.
Leaders of the tech world: We need your brain power and your resources. Our kids deserve it because EVERY kid deserves it. So climb up on this mountain top with me and tell them we're going to make it better...because we can.
PS: It may not be much, but I personally pledge another $10,000 towards this effort. Plus I have passion, plans, data and a wonderful track record of getting things done. So let's do this!

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