Helping At-Risk Kids

Helping At-Risk Kids

Spring 2021

| By: Britten, Casey

FVTC Learning Innovations team building app to help drug-endangered children. 

A 13-year-old girl starts each day exhausted.

She stayed up late taking care of her younger siblings. Her mom is addicted to meth. Her dad isn’t around anymore. 

She didn’t have time to do her homework so she goes to school without it. Her teachers don’t know what’s going on at home. She’s ashamed, so she tries to stay as invisible as possible.

Imagine if this girl had a tool at her fingertips that she could use to reach out to someone locally, anonymously. Someone who could tell her where to turn… let her know she’s not alone. 

That’s the vision of an ambitious new mobile application in the works by the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children (DEC) and the Learning Innovations (LI) team at Fox Valley Technical College, funded by the Office of Victims of Crime, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The free app will use geotagging to connect children endangered by drug use with resources within their own zip code. With a few simple clicks, they can connect directly to real services.

“There are as many as 10 million children affected by substance misuse in their families,” explains Scott Henderson, Executive Director of the National DEC. “We want to make it easy for them to find help.” 

The final project will have four tiers. Phase one, currently in development, focuses on the victims and getting them help. Subsequent tiers will involve in-depth training for professionals. 

Technical development is being conducted by the FVTC LI team. “We’re working on the design, geotagging functionality, content management, and development of user profiles,” explains Jay Stulo, Director of Learning Innovations. In addition, the FVTC Public Safety Training Center is the site of several scenario videos to be integrated into the tool.     

The National DEC became aware of the high-caliber work of the LI team through projects done in conjunction with the National Criminal Justice Training Center at Fox Valley Technical College. Choosing them for this project was a natural fit. “We had the idea and vision, but we didn’t have the technical expertise,” says Scott. “That’s where Learning Innovations comes in. We went out and found the experts. They understood our mission and scope, and it wasn’t daunting to them because we’d worked together before.”

Phase one of the app will launch in September 2021 with a national outreach campaign to get it to the kids who need it. “The impact is going to be dramatic and far-reaching,” Scott says. 

Jay and his team are honored to be involved. “Every time we meet we realize how important this work is,” he says.    

"We had the idea and vision, but we didn’t have the technical expertise.
That’s where Learning Innovations comes in. We went out and found the experts."

Scott Henderson, Executive Director of the National DEC