Young Fellows from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative® will participate this month in Capitalhack, a 24-hour hackathon of robust brainstorming to find innovative solutions for data systems that affect young people in foster care. The 12 Young Fellows will work alongside state and community leaders, child welfare experts from Jim Casey Initiative sites, Casey staff and volunteer programmers from companies, including Microsoft and TechInCare, to build solutions that are informed by those who have experienced foster care.
A hackathon — an event that creates a “marathon” out of software development — typically brings together programmers and coders to develop creative technology solutions to real-world problems. As part of the #HackFosterCare movement launched in 2016, Capitalhack will explore how communities and states might respond to the needs of young people who are transitioning from foster care to adulthood. “The data on young adults transitioning from foster care housed in these data systems are critical to understanding how young people are faring and to influencing policy and practice changes to improve the negative outcomes experienced by them,” says Sandra Wilkie, a Foundation data and evaluation consultant. “The current capacity of these systems does not allow us to explore and extract this vital information fully.”
The hackathon will be held at the Inclusive Innovation Incubator, Washington, D.C.’s, first coworking space focused on diversity and inclusion. Hosting the event are Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization focused on children, youth and their families, and Think of Us, a nonprofit founded by Jim Casey Initiative Young Fellow Sixto Cancel that uses technology to help youth in foster care transition into adulthood.
Teams will draw from each other’s expertise to address challenges like creating digital versions of tools that empower youth to advance their leadership skills, leveraging video to allow young people to consent to sharing their data, and developing tools and dashboards to better visualize data.