Technology as social justice
The Syblings App was developed by Art + Practice, an arts and education foundation providing life-skills training to foster youth in the LA 90008 zip code. They created this app to connect siblings who have lost contact with each other while in foster care.
Syblings uses SMS text message technology to populate a database of users' past foster care locations and then visualize this data on a map.
There are about 20,000 foster children in Los Angeles County. About 8,000 foster children live in the 90008 zipcode. These children typically average 14 months in foster care and 12% of foster youth will experience three or more placements.
A+P informally surveyed 300 foster youth in 2014—49% of them reported a sibling in foster care. 53% of those did not know how to contact their sibling by phone.
How it works
The Syblings App is a private and secure app that would be primarily used on a desktop, but with your phone number you receive a security PIN# to sign into the desktop app. From there you login and you can see a map of all the foster care children who also use the Syblings App—this shows up as a yellow line on the map. A blue line then appears showing your foster care locations—only you can see the blue line. The Syblings App then looks at all the user data and suggests possible siblings—this is indicated with the orange line.
If there are matches, the possible siblings will be able to contact each other via phone.
The UX and UI was designed and developed to be a utilitarian experience because we wanted the app to be as simple and clear as possible for BETA testers and for the young future users.
Developer Justin Reidy