Ryan Casey, Vice President, Microsoft US
, March 15, 2024
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Alithya leverages Microsoft’s power to help address one of foster care’s most challenging issues: connecting children with the right adoptive families in a shorter time.

Did you know that there are over 120,000 children in the US foster care system who are waiting to be adopted? Because of high-risk situations of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, some children will sadly not be reunited with their biological families. They have a dream of adoption, and a dream of finding a forever family. They cannot afford to wait.  

But due to an inefficient process, this is exactly what they were doing…. waiting. Many people assume the problem is caused by a shortage of families ready to help. But what if the shortage is not as severe as we think? What if we simply haven’t done a good job facilitating the process? Sometimes foster families must wait 10-12 months just to take their first training class, and years to foster or adopt a child. It was a broken system in need of help.

Adoption-Share is an organization focused on facilitating adoptions.

Founded by a social worker to help the adoption system in dire need of reform, Adoption-Share, a nonprofit organization, has worked to radically change the private and public adoption process and create the tools needed to transform a broken system. Adoption-Share set out to help by providing cutting-edge technology to assist children, families, and professionals, revolutionizing the private and public adoption process.

Adoption-Share offers three main programs: advocacy and adoption awareness campaigns, an online network for private domestic adoption, and a technology platform called Family-Match for state case workers to use in matching foster care children with the best families.

Adoption-Share created Family-Match using Microsoft Azure. It became the first ever data-driven application using predictive analytics to connect waiting kids more efficiently and appropriately with waiting families. This centralized platform leverages data in a way that can really help enhance the connection points for the children and families to be matched and then subsequently adopted. Family-Match helps child welfare workers all over the United States make better matches to ensure the first match is the only match for the stability of the child.

Family-Match: foster care management software

Family-Match is an incredible tool that made huge progress in matching children and families, but there was a need to do more. Many of the adoption steps remained manual and paper driven. For instance, foster care and adoption were driven county by county, leaving the perfect family for a child one county away - unidentified.

Faster Families: a revolutionary Power App extension

Alithya collaborated to build a new platform, codenamed “Faster Families”, leveraging the Microsoft Power Platform, which integrates with the Microsoft Azure-based backend of Family-Match, to alleviate bottlenecks in the first steps of the adoption/foster process. Power Platform empowers organizations like Adoption-Share to develop solutions with low code tools while reducing costs and development time. Using the Power Platform, Faster Families bridges the gap between organizations that recruit families and child welfare organizations that do not have the bandwidth or staff to deal with the volume of interest. Agencies using Adoption-Share can now manage the pipeline of would-be adoptive parents, helping connect children into loving, stable homes faster.  

Alithya’s methodology equipped Adoption-Share to take full ownership of the solution at Go-Live, and Alithya created short, bite-sized training videos to educate families on the new Faster Families process. “The final product is actually far better than what we originally came up with,” says Thea Ramirez, founder & CEO of Adoption-Share. “We now have a superior product that is something we can get out to our users and is better than what I could have imagined,” continues Ramirez.

Working virtually with our foster care software

Family Match also allows Adoption-Share to streamline its processes in a virtual environment. What was once a one-to-three-hour process of conducting in-home family interviews has now become an efficient online onboarding process thanks to Faster Families. Adoption-Share can now prioritize which families to invite to pre-service training classes based on information on prospective families who are the most ready, willing, able, and compatible with the children served.

Increasing adoption awareness

Despite popular TV shows like "The Fosters" dominating the airwaves, the topic of adoption is still one that is not discussed all that much, at least not in detail. There are so many misconceptions about what it means to adopt. Children of all ages find permanency through adoption, in all countries. Most adoptions in the United States, for example, are domestic – with less than 5,000 intercountry adoptions occurring in the US annually.  Adoption is an umbrella term that covers a plethora of situations.

This is the reason why so many people ask me about my adoption and about my family, reports a female who was adopted in the United States. For the longest time, I was upset about people asking me about my family and about my life. I know from experience that it can be a sore topic between my mother and me. There is a delicate balance between wanting to know and trying to figure out the "could have been." I try to remember this every time someone asks me a question that makes me uncomfortable.

So, this is what I want you to know if you are one of the people who would ask me questions: I am adopted, I "never" met my birth family, but I love the life I have and live. Thank you for your concern about my life and about how my family works, but it isn’t always solicited, or wanted, for that matter.

It's important, both for our generation, and the ones after us, to understand it and let conversations about adoption happen naturally, especially since so many people today seem to want to adopt. Too many times I have been asked a question in class, by another student, only to have the conversation shut down by a teacher. There is such a thing as a time and a place.

Why does it matter if I’m adopted? What makes my family different? What makes it something that should be questioned?

I know that when people ask questions it’s curiosity, they don’t mean any malice; but it can be odd to have someone question you about something that is such a simple part of your life. But, when you take a step back, it’s easy to see that the reason they ask is simply because they just don’t know. It is not rude to ask questions; asking questions leads to learning, which leads to awareness, which is something that we all desperately need.

Learn more about foster care and adoption at Adoption-Share’s campaign, www.adoptionisbeautiful.org

Eve Stacey, Vice President, Go to Market, US Partner Group at Microsoft was also touched by the project that Alithya completed using Microsoft tools. Here is Eve’s story:

“When my husband and I adopted nearly 17 years ago, the process took a year and a half, such that our daughter was born during the adoption process. We met her when she turned 13 months, instead of being united at birth. We would have loved to speed up her “gotcha day” to experience family and stability earlier and hope the Faster Families Power App will help other families experience the union with their adoptive children sooner.

Surprisingly, many of the inefficiencies we experienced are still commonplace today. It’s great to hear that Alithya has used Microsoft technology for adoptive families and children in the US to bring them together faster while removing many of the inefficiencies parents endure throughout the process.”

Alithya Gives Back

The Faster Families project with Adoption-Share is not the only project in which Alithya has given back to its community. Living up to its name, meaning truth, Alithya embraces a business model that avoids industry buzzwords and technical jargon to deliver straight talk provided by collaborative teams focused on three main pillars: strategic consulting, enterprise transformation, and business enablement.

With two gender parity certifications obtained in Canada and the United States, and in pursuit of indigenous relations and carbon neutral certifications, Alithya strives to balance its desire to do the right thing with its commitment to doing things right.

"There is an incredible importance in connecting kids in crisis into loving homes faster," commented Ryan Casey, Vice President, at Alithya. "Microsoft's Power Platform enabled us to deploy a solution faster, consistent with that goal. We were honored to participate in this project with Adoption-Share, to extend their use of the Microsoft Power Platform, and to add another powerful app, Faster Families, to their technology arsenal,” adds Casey. 

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