Dr. Luke Goble – The Gap Analysis

Dr. Luke Goble – Executive Director of Research and Impact

The Data, Research, and Evaluation team has been working in collaboration with national organizations such as the Child Welfare Playbook and the University of Chicago’s Radical Innovation for Social Change (RISC) lab to create tools that make foster parent recruitment more efficient and effective by using data. In studying foster care data across the country, we have consistently encountered three conflicting and interactive facts:  

  1. the number of kids entering foster care is decreasing 
  1. nevertheless, most states are in acute crises of having enough foster parents to serve the kids in care 
  1. even when certain jurisdictions have enough homes or beds, ~50% of kids entering foster care end up being placed out of their home county 

The primary reason for these conflicting phenomena is that kids in foster care have particular needs that require strategic homes that can meet those needs—homes in the right place, homes that can help keep siblings together, homes that can serve teens, and homes with the right mix of skills to support other unique needs.  

By identifying the trends of needs and characteristics of kids coming into foster care and the characteristics of available homes, we can identify more precisely what kinds of foster homes are needed to serve kids well. We can analyze by county and zip code where there are “gaps” in the availability of homes, which we sometimes refer to as a “gap analysis” or “strategic needs assessment.” 

Because we have a dynamic team—the Community Collider—that works together to solve hard problems with innovative solutions, we can use this data in collaboration with strategic marketing, user-centered technology, and hospitable community engagement to identify and recruit more foster/resource homes that can fulfill the specific needs of children at the right time and place. 

We have already seen results in recruiting homes in high need counties, more homes that can support teens, and homes where the primary language is Spanish. We won’t stop until we know Every Child has a safe, strategic, and loving home.