Director of Philanthropy & Community Relations
Chief Operating Officer
Extraordinary Families Launches ConnectLA to Help Los Angeles County Foster Youth Access Essential Services
New Free Smartphone App Provides Transitioning Foster Youth and Foster Families Access to a Wealth of Local Services throughout LA County
(Los Angeles, CA) June 9, 2016 – Extraordinary Families, a leading Los Angeles-based nonprofit foster family, adoption, and advocacy organization dedicated to improving the daily lives and long-term outcomes of children and youth impacted by the child welfare system, has launched ConnectLA, a new smartphone app designed to help youth exiting foster care. With more than 36,000 nonprofits in Los Angeles County, it can be overwhelming and confusing to navigate through the available services. ConnectLA puts power directly in the hands of transition-age foster youth to find and access local services such as housing, employment, education, food banks, health and mental health care, childcare, legal assistance, and more at the touch of a button. Ensuring foster youth have positive support networks and direct access to local resources is essential for their self-sufficiency and positive long-term outcomes after exiting care.
“Youth transitioning from foster care face many challenges, but getting access to local community resources is no longer one of them,” says Sarah Boone, CEO of Extraordinary Families. “If they need a place to stay, help finding a job, or directions to a nearby clinic, then ConnectLA is for them.”
ConnectLA is available for free through the iTunes and Google Play stores as a quick, one-touch download. There is no login required: Upon download, users can immediately access and utilize the database to locate the local services they need.
WORKING TOGETHER TO STRENGTHEN SERVICES FOR FOSTER YOUTH
By the time a foster youth reaches the age of 18, if they haven’t engaged in early employment experiences they are more likely to end up facing a variety of negative outcomes, such as homelessness, involvement with the criminal justice system, poor health outcomes, lack of transportation, and poverty. To be fully prepared to exit care and transition to adulthood, youth need strong networks of support. To access these networks, youth need both an awareness of available services and the ability to navigate a system of resources.
When a user selects ConnectLA’s Locate feature, they are greeted with a visual map of their area, with handy flags showing service locations. Complete details of services are then only a touch away. ConnectLA uses a smartphone’s built-in geo-locator to show customized local information, directions, and allow favorite locations to be starred for future use. If users prefer to keep their location private, the phone’s location function can be turned off at any time.
ConnectLA also gives users the option to leave anonymous feedback about their experiences. The “virtual secret shopper” feature empowers foster youth to share their experiences about the quality and responsiveness of services to their needs. In turn, service providers can use this feedback in their continuous quality improvement efforts.
CONNECTLA: KEY FEATURES
- Quick search for local services, using either map or list format
- Detailed provider listings with service descriptions, eligibility requirements, access hours and contact information
- Maps and directions showing the quickest route via Google and Apple Maps
- Ratings and feedback form for users to rate experiences and satisfaction with services
- Correction submission form for users to fix mistakes and ensure information remains up to date
The ConnectLA mobile app was custom built for Extraordinary Families by Amplitude Creative, a full-service digital marketing and creative services agency in Los Angeles.
ABOUT EXTRAORDINARY FAMILIES
Based in Los Angeles, Extraordinary Families is a leading provider of services to children and youth in foster care and a child welfare policy organization with a proud 22-year history of service. As a licensed foster care and adoption agency, Extraordinary Families recruits, trains, certifies, and supports foster and adoptive families to care for children removed from their families due to abuse and neglect.
In addition to foster care services, Extraordinary Families serves older youth through its Unlimited Possibilities for Youth (UP4Youth) program. Designed for teens and young adults preparing to transition to independence, the program includes mentoring, resource coordination, education planning, and employment services.
Extraordinary Families also has a research and policy team that pursues strategic initiatives to improve the child welfare system throughout Los Angeles County and beyond. The organization’s largest current priority is recruiting additional foster and adoptive families to provide permanency and stability to school-aged children and teenagers, who frequently exit care without a permanent family.