Fostering Innovation in Foster Care
The process to get approved to be a foster or adoptive parent can take over a year, even though there is a shortage of foster and adoptive parents. This process can take even longer for international adoptions, as the child’s host country dictates timelines and required paperwork. Felicia Curcuru, founder and CEO of Binti, knows first-hand how frustrating this process can be, as she helplessly watched her sister — a would be adoptive parent — navigate the international adoption process for years. After a lot of patience and money, her sister was finally able to welcome home her two adopted children.
“While I was happy for my sister to finally be able to adopt her children,” said Felicia, “I was disheartened by the inefficient adoption process that took years to finalize. This recurring thought fueled by my sister’s adoption experience was ultimately the reason why I founded Binti.”
Binti is reinventing foster care and adoption, with a mission to increase equality of opportunity in the world by helping every child have a family.
Binti is reinventing foster care and adoption, with a mission to increase equality of opportunity in the world by helping every child have a family. In doing so, the company is repairing a critical part of society’s connective tissue and creating a sense of belonging for the children of the future. The company, which has received funding from Govtech Fund, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Kapor Capital, Ashton Kutcher and ~30 angel investors, has developed software for government and private foster care agencies to alleviate the critical shortage of foster parents. The number of children in the U.S. foster care system hovers around 450,000.
The number of children in the U.S. foster care system hovers around 450,000.
This void in foster care is in part due to the lack of good tools and resources available to social workers and families. Historically, and in governments not yet partnered with Binti, foster parents had to deal with overwhelming amounts of paperwork, while the social workers, reviewing the adoption applications, had to manually input data into column-intensive spreadsheets. The process was extremely tedious and prone to errors. This is where Binti’s software comes into play, to modernize government operations in the foster care system.
First, Binti creates a public recruiting website like this one used by L.A. county agencies to let potential families learn about the foster family approval process. Then, potential foster parents use Binti’s mobile-optimized application portal to complete and sign all of the required paperwork. This process can be completed from anywhere on any type of device. Personal and professional references can also submit feedback via the platform. Once an application is submitted, social workers use a private dashboard to track the application, complete background checks, review necessary trainings, and provide reporting tools. This dashboard alone has saved Binti’s partners and their social workers 20-40 percent of the time by reducing duplication.
In just one and half years since Binti began working with local and state governments, it has partnered with over 40 agencies across California, Colorado, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Texas. This includes 30 of the 58 state counties in California and approving more than 60 percent of the foster families residing in the state. Binti’s partner agencies collectively serve over 40,000 children in the U.S. foster care system.
In just one and half years since Binti began working with local and state governments, it has partnered with over 40 agencies across California, Colorado, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Texas. Binti’s partner agencies collectively serve over 40,000 children in the U.S. foster care system.
One of Binti’s primary goals is to reduce the shortage of foster parents. When Binti first partnered with San Francisco county, San Francisco’s Human Services Agency was receiving four to five inquiries a month about foster parenting. Today, that average has jumped up to 20 per month.
“The Bay Area housing crisis was a significant barrier to overcome in our recruitment efforts,” said Angela Ramos, Program Manager of San Francisco Human Services Agency (SFHSA). “Our team often struggled to identify foster families residing within the same county as the foster children. The last thing we wanted to do was displace the children and move them outside of their communities. Binti’s software platform helped us face this challenge head-on and the results more than exceeded our expectations. In fact, using it’s system allowed us increase the number of foster family applications by 300%!”
“In fact, using it’s system allowed us increase the number of foster family applications by 300%!” said Angela Ramos, Program Manager of San Francisco Human Services Agency (SFHSA).
SFHSA’s recruiting success since using Binti was so overwhelming they partnered with a local foster family agency, Alternative Family Services, to help community applicants become resource families. From the program management side, SFHSA’s approach to data processing has become significantly more streamlined. Before Binti, everything was manually entered and required copious back-and-forth paperwork between the social workers and the potential foster families. After Binti, potential foster families have full transparency on the status of their application and they can complete up to 90% of the required paperwork from the comfort of their home before scheduling an in-home visit.
“Binti’s team has gone above and beyond to meet with our staff and discuss improvements and new features,” said Ramos. “The recruiting website is a key resource for our foster families, providing transparency and establishing trust within the community.”