Technology for Kids in the Foster Care System - It's a Different World
The next Arizonans for Children STEM Pi-oneer class is getting ready to start and as I prepare and plan the importance and value of this class are in the forefront of my thoughts.
Kids in the foster care system do not have access to technology. How are they doing their homework? Their life circumstances set them apart from other kids, lack of technology only makes it harder for them.
In the Arizonans for Children Pi-oneer program the kids assemble a Raspberry Pi micro computer, download the operating system, explore the vast functionality of the Pi, learn about the importance of internet safety and security as well as learn basic coding and programming. At the end of the final class the kids that have attended all classes take the entire computer system with them.
Every aspect of this class is geared to the population Arizonans for Children serves, kids in the foster care system.
The micro computer itself is very inexpensive and not a lot of people understand its use. What that means is that the staff at group homes, caregivers and other kids in a placement will be less likely to take the Pi to sell it or keep for themselves. Yes, sadly that is a common occurrence in a group home setting. The kids themselves are not likely to try to sell the Pi as the resale value is next to nothing.
It's hard to put yourself into the shoes of a teen in foster care and their every day struggles but we see it and systemically work to find ways to make their lives better.
We could facilitate this program using a laptop or PC but the reality is that computer will be used for behavior modification at the foster placement, the staff and other children will try to and most likely be successful and stealing the computer or the child themselves may sell it to get essentials that the staff/placement don't supply or the kids are embarrassed to ask for. Having a nice new laptop also sets the children up as targets from the other kids in the placement and it is heartbreaking to see time.
Arizonans for Children is fortunate to get donations of computer systems from our community that we do share with children in the foster care system outside of our STEM program but we do this through our Mentor Program. Our Mentors are at the foster placements and group homes and help hold everyone accountable. They use these computers to help with the child's homework, search for jobs, learn new things like life skills.
The Arizonans for Children STEM program is expanding! This week I met with Chris Huie; a tech evangelist that will be facilitating classes/workshops for kids in foster care.
"Would love to start planning on what it would take to introduce coding to your students? I have fun game development curriculum and laptops ready to go :)"
We are going to change these kids lives Chris!
My future goal after speaking with Chris - I want a robotics club specific to kids in foster care. Their circumstances are unique and a club specific to them would give them a chance to explore robotics without judgement.
The Arizonans for Children STEM program will continue to evolve to the needs of the kids. There are a ton of ways to help if you would like to get involved.
*Volunteer - share your tech skills or come sit with a child during class to help keep them from feeling overwhelmed. Every single person that shows the kids positive attention lets them know that people do care about them and their future.
*Provide lunch for the Pi-oneer class. Email Laura for dates, times and class count - firstname.lastname@example.org
*Collect HDMI monitors (or VGA monitors with VGA/HDMI adapter), mouse and keyboards. Although Arizonans for Children purchases the Pi's our community comes together by donating the rest of the system. New or gently loved as long as they work.
*Would you be willing to help start a robotics club for kids in the foster care system?
*Claim the AZ Foster Care Tax Credit and designate the funds to STEM at Arizonans for Children. $500 if you file single and $1000 if you file a joint return.
Together we are changing lives and doing it in a way that best works for these kids.
Technology isn't you thing? We have LOTS of volunteer opportunities!