Delivering Evidence-based Care Strategies to Foster Parents

The Challenge

It's difficult to prepare caregivers for the complex situations they'll encounter when taking on the role of foster parent. Coping with behavioral issues, addressing past trauma, and building trust while balancing a schedule of childcare, social worker visits, and familial obligations causes significant stress.  A lack of flexible training complicates this stress, and prevents caregivers from accessing the training they need. FosterTips is a gamified training toolkit for caregivers designed to deliver quick, easy, and flexible foster care training.

The FosterTips project is collaboration between the University of Vermont, the Vermont Child Welfare Training Partnership, and GameTheory. The project is SBIR funded through NIH, the National Institute of Health. The Vermont Child Welfare Training Partnership provides programs to educate caregivers on Trauma-informed parenting, while providing evidence-based parenting strategies. FosterTips was designed as a take-home mobile application to complement this in-person training. 

The Audience: Foster parents and caregivers with a busy schedule.

The Goal:  Create an evidence-based foster training toolkit on mobile devices. 


The Process

We began discovery by working with the Vermont Child Welfare Training to assess their existing training program. During this process, we broke down the components of the training program into clear, self-contained tools. We then applied game insights to these tools to design an enjoyable and engaging mobile learning environment.

Using game theory we evolved traditional training mechanisms like questionnaires and flashcards, into quick and responsive learning tools. With these game-inspired tools, caregivers can play with the content they've learned during their training. They can practice, experiment, and level up their parenting strategies within an affirming environment.

Using interactive comics, achievements to reward practice, and quick tips for immediate help, FosterTips aims to empower caregivers to own their training. We're now in the process of developing a prototype for focus testing with our audience. Using feedback from these focus groups we will iteratively develop an updated version of FosterTips, which can be used as part of RPC+ training to evaluate the apps effectiveness. 

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The Results

Our first version of the app is still in development. We're still in the early stages of this product. To learn more about it check out our interactive design here.