In this special episode of "Dreams with Deadlines," Dr. Jennifer Jacobs, a former nuclear physicist and White House fellow, shares her inspiring journey from the world of nuclear counterterrorism to founding Connect Our Kids, a groundbreaking organization dedicated to transforming the foster care system.
What you will learn
- The Foster Care Landscape: Dr. Jacobs delves into the staggering statistics surrounding foster care in the United States, shedding light on the number of children in foster care, the challenges they face, and the financial implications of the current system. She emphasizes the critical importance of permanent, loving families for these children.
- Empowering Social Workers with Data-Driven Tools: Discover how technology is revolutionizing the foster care system. Dr. Jacobs introduces Connect Our Kids' innovative software, "Family Connections," which empowers social workers to efficiently connect foster children with their families and support networks. The software's success stories, like that of Abby, highlight its transformative impact.
- An Audacious Goal for the Future: Dr. Jacobs reveals Connect Our Kids' audacious goal for the next decade: to ensure that every child and family affected by foster care or at risk of foster care is connected with their people, their relationships. The organization envisions a future where social workers prioritize maintaining children's connections with their families and loved ones, ultimately changing the landscape of foster care.
- [00:00:00] Introduction. Dr. Jennifer Jacobs, a former nuclear physicist and White House fellow, discusses her transition from nuclear counterterrorism to founding Connect Our Kids, inspired by reading a Time Magazine article about foster care.
- [00:04:10] The Foster Care Landscape: Statistics and Costs. Dr. Jacobs shares staggering statistics about foster care, including the number of children, their age when aging out, and the dire consequences faced by those who do. She also explores the financial implications of the current foster care system.
- [00:09:39] Transforming Social Work: Shifting Focus from Beds to Families. Dr. Jacobs highlights the challenges faced by social workers within the foster care system and the need to shift focus from finding beds for children to placing them with their own families and trusted individuals.
- [00:12:12] Empowering Social Workers with Data-Driven Tools and Transforming Lives. Dr. Jacobs discusses the pivotal role of technology in empowering social workers to connect foster children with their families and support networks. Dr. Jennifer Jacobs introduces the Connect Our Kids software, Family Connections, and explains how it mimics intelligence-style software to efficiently organize and search for crucial data. The discussion emphasizes the collaborative nature of the software and its potential to streamline social work processes, ultimately benefiting both social workers and the children they serve. The segment concludes with a heartwarming success story about Abby, illustrating the profound impact of reconnecting children with their families.
- [00:19:25] The Quantitative Impact: Transforming Lives and Society. Dr. Jacobs focuses on the financial costs associated with youth aging out of foster care without support and the substantial return on investment (ROI) achievable by redirecting resources to support these youth. The estimated ROI is over 20,000%.
- [00:31:15] An Audacious Goal: Connecting Children with Their People. Dr. Jacobs reveals Connect Our Kids' audacious goal to ensure that every child and family affected by foster care or at risk of foster care is connected with their people, their relationships. The organization envisions a future where social workers prioritize maintaining children's connections with their families and loved ones.
- [00:35:12] Quick-Fire Questions for Dr. Jennifer Jacobs:
- What are the current challenges that you think are potentially roadblocks or obstacles to getting to that 10-year-goal? The main challenge is the resistance to change inherent in established systems, which tends to reinforce itself, making change difficult.
- What Keeps You Going? The stories of individuals like Abby, whose lives have been positively impacted by Connect our Kids' work, serve as powerful motivation, despite bureaucratic challenges and setbacks.
- Books or Articles That Shaped Thinking. Dr. Jennifer Jacobs mentioned the book "Foster Girl" by Georgia Todd, a team member who shared her brutally honest experiences in foster care, as well as other books and articles that offer detailed accounts of why children end up in challenging situations within the child welfare system and how bureaucracy and decisions can contribute to these issues.