Mother and Toddlers Information XChange

FROM: Paul Chapman

What NEED does this meet?
Actually this one came from my sister who as a mother of 5 and a teacher has some experience of this.

Basically this would be a kind of Mother's Information Exchange. Now when ever Mothers meet and the various offline groups they are invariable talking about problems with their children.

It would also provide a portal for more official information to mothers regarding there children such as the current controversy over combined immunisations such as MMR.

There also should be a facility for off-line groups to give the place and time of meeting.

What is the APPROACH?
The site essentially will be a forum combined with a news element.

The forum would need some form of database backend but the news site can be done with XML

What are the BENEFITS to people?
There's no second chance with being a parent. You have to get it right first time, so any help would be useful and sometime children choose the most awkward time to have some problems. So being able to pop on the web and check what others have done can be a help.

What is the COMPETITION?
A lot of Groups have their own websites but a search of Google with 'Mother and Toddlers' esssentially gives details of the groups but very little actual information exchange.

There is but again this is one way, anyway it is American. is probably the nearest thing I've found. However again this is American and therefore information with a UK slant is not available.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
This is not a complicated site and none of the technology is complex. It should be possible to reduce the costs of running it by selling advertising.

A database would be needed and licenses for SQL Server are not cheap. (£2,500 per annum IIRC) It does not need the complexity of .Net as there is no need for web services so the whole thing can be implemented with SQL Server, XML, VBScript and Javascript and ASP

November 6, 2003 in Children, Connecting People, Perhaps Government Remit? | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Orphans of the World

FROM: Beth Mash

What NEED does this meet?
As it stands now, an agency adoption of a child in Eastern Europe or Asia is usually anywhere from $20,000 (Asia) to $35,000 or more (Russia). The adoption angencies give dinky discounts for the adoption of older children, but not enough of a discount to actually help very many children find new homes. Because the agencies control the referral process, it is difficult for adoptive parents to arrange an adoption without paying huge fees. There are already some small regional/local photolisting services in various parts of the world, but why not let the kids over the age of 10 photolist themselves. Many of the urban/suburban orphanages are within walking distance of an internet cafe, and some of the orphanages are already online.

Even in the U.S., where child protective services is supposed to photolist all of the waiting kids, they never actually get around to it. There are perhaps 3 to 5000 kids photolisted at the most, although the number of kids legally free for adoption is well into six figures.

Obviously, there are some privacy concerns that have to be addressed with any photolisting, but those issues have been worked out with the photolistings that are up and running now.

It would be great to have a world-wide photolisting that would not be controlled by any one agency.

What is the APPROACH?
One worldwide photolisting vs. current patchwork of hard-to-find websites which are often out of date. Many photolistings currently in place treat the photolisted children as the property of the listing agency. If you want to adopt Child X, you MUST you the expensive services of Agency Y.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
All photolisted orphans under one website "roof" with a search function that searches through all available orphans simultaneously.

What is the COMPETITION?
There is now a more or less nationwide USA photolisting, BUT I believe that children are only listed there after they have been listed for a long time on their individual state photolisting site (this may vary from state to state.) As I stated previously, the total number of children on this site is a small fraction of the number who are "eligible" for listing.

Additionally, the social workers in each jurisdiction are gatekeepers for the government photolistings. If a child is in foster care, and becomes free for adoption, he will be photolisted IF AND ONLY IF his social worker gets around to it. Sadly, many foster parents will tell you that they have worked with social workers and local child protective services offices where photolisting the available children is NOT a priority. (As long as the child is NOT adopted, the local CPS office continues to receive federal funding for the child, which operates as a conflict of interest.)

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
I don't have any idea.

October 31, 2003 in Children | Permalink | Comments (2)

Easy method of informing Children\\\'s Tax Credits about childcare changes

FROM: Rowan Fothergill

What NEED does this meet?
The database design for the storage of childcare details was badly designed (IMHO); in particular it doesn't allow for different childcare arrangements in term time vs. school holidays / half-terms. This means that I have to ring up the helpline just before each holiday period, cancel off the term-time arrangements, add the holiday arrangements & restart the term-time arrangements. This 6-times-annually misery is compounded by the fact that their database won't accept childcare start dates more than three weeks in the future (so sorting out summer holidays at 6 weeks is a real pain).

I would like a simple, easy to use web form that allows me to inform the Children's Tax Credit staff of changes in childcare arrangements for holiday periods only (all other changes probably being too complex to deal with using this approach).

I think this would aid the thousands (millions?) of working parents with children of school age. It would also ease congestion on the Tax Credit helpline, and should speed up processing of claims as changes are submitted in a standard, uniform way.

What is the APPROACH?
I would design a web-site that asks users to enter: 1) Which term-time childcare is stopping & when; and when it is restarting 2) Which holiday-time childcare is starting (& start/end dates if different to term-time end/start dates)

To make things even more user-friendly I would: A) Allow user to enter dates as "Start of summer term, 2003" or "End of autumn term, 2004" B) Store existing child-care details on cookies (or similar) on the user's computer. These would have to be entered once when first using the service but thereafter can be selected from a drop-down list on the main web form.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
People won't have to ring the Children's Tax Credit line just to change childcare dates.

What is the COMPETITION?
No similar services at all.

It's a great idea!

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
Developing a simple web form that just sends an email to the Children's Tax Credit with all the relevant data should be fairly straight-forward. Aside from the user's reference number no strictly personal data is sent on-line (name of childcare provider & some dates shouldn't cause privacy problems??)

Linking to D.of Ed. to get term dates can't be too hard - it's on their website (somewhere!).

The icing on the cake would be to auto-link into the CTC database & batch update all records before they are sent to the Processing Teams for checking & recalculating. As this doesn't directly benefit the end-user (who only cares that the data is sent & CTC updates (eventually)) it's not strictly relevant to this proposal.

October 31, 2003 in Children, Perhaps Government Remit? | Permalink | Comments (1)