iFoster reaches 150K U.S. foster kids

Faith Merino · February 7, 2011 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/16c4

The online community offers a marketplace where foster families can get steep discounts on goods

On average, there are some 500,000 children in foster care on any given day throughout the U.S., but half of all foster families rarely last a full year due to lack of funding and support.  Children placed in foster care often bounce from home to home and 20,000 age out of the system each year.  Of the 500,000 children in foster care, only 50,000 are adopted each year, and of those who never find a permanent home, 80% end up in prison, living in poverty, or homeless. 

A new online foster care community, iFoster.org, is attempting to rally more support for foster families to ensure that children in foster care have a better chance of finding permanent homes.  The organization announced Monday that its network of members (families and agencies) now represent more than 150,000 foster children served.  To be specific, the iFoster.org network has reached 3,400 members, but co-founder Reid Cox explained that the math works out to approximately 44 children represented per member. 

“Some members are foster families who are direct caregivers for one or two children, some are foster care agencies or group homes with dozens to hundreds of children they represent, and lastly some are large multiservice agencies (i.e. have several services such as group homes and agencies) who represent up to thousands of foster families.  All have direct responsibility for raising foster children,” said Cox via email.

Founded in July 2010, the fundamentals of the non-profit are simple and straightforward.  The site operates as both a community where foster care providers can come together and talk about issues facing children in foster care, as well as a marketplace where foster care providers can get steep discounts from major retailers, grocery stores, healthcare providers, movie theaters, restaurants, and more.  Some of the partners that iFoster works with include Target, AT&T, Barnes & Noble, Macy’s, Sprint, Costco, Disney, Southwest Airlines, Abenity Groceries, Dell, DentalPlans.com, and more.  Some of the deals currently available include 15% off at Macy’s (are there a lot of foster parents spending hundreds of dollars on brand-name apparel for their foster kids?), $6 AMC movie tickets, and $25 for $250 worth of meals through Restaurant.com.

Currently, the U.S. government only covers 64% of the cost of basic needs upkeep among foster children, leaving a $1 billion funding gap among the nation’s foster families.  Founders Serita and Reid Cox see iFoster’s marketplace working much like any other group-buying site: as the community grows, so, too, does its purchasing power, which means it will have more leverage for negotiating even steeper discounts.

Later this year, iFoster will launch the iFoster Knowledge Center, which will serve as an information hub where foster families or prospective foster families can learn about the foster care system, raising foster children, and find out what regional services are available to them.  The site will also be integrated with social functionality so that members can share information with others. 

Image source: iFoster.org

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