The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Chicago 2011, August 20-21

Crossroads Adoption Services

Crossroads Adoption Services is a licensed, non-profit agency that was started in 1976 by a group of adoptive parents that saw the need to start an agency with no arbitrary restrictions. We assist families in Minnesota and western Wisconsin throughout the adoption process.

We provide education and training to families in the process, recruit families for children and support families after the placement of a child/children in the home

What new functionality we are looking for

Let's face it. Our website looks like it was designed in the 80s... mainly because it was. It is written in a SUPER OLD LANGUAGE that no one seems to know how to update. We dream of a better website!

If we had a website fairy, we would wish for:

- Overall appearance in colors other than pale pink and murky magenta

- Working buttons (We have two "request info" buttons on our site- neither of them work. When visitors to our website want more information, they receive none by using this button.)

- A website written in a user-friendly program that allows our staff to actually update the info instead of trying unsuccessfully to use the "For dummies" book

- Options for password protected documents (We send out emails daily with attachments of forms and other documents our clients need to complete. If we had a password protected section of our website where our families in process could open documents and watch videos of the trainings, families would feel they had much needed education and assistance at their fingertips. The families would LOVE it and our staff would be spared carpel tunnel syndrome from sending the same email attachments over and over!!)

- The ability to upload training videos (We get many requests to re-explain the process of background checks or other required steps in the process. Although we verbally tell families during our in-person education classes, families have asked if they can get the information in an audio/video format. If we had the ability to upload a few short videos of staff explaining this process, adoptive families could watch the videos over and over if they needed the full details again.)

- More tabs to reflect our cultural programs

- A working tab to list information about children in need (We get detailed information about children available for adoption from other agencies in the USA and other countries around the world. We need a tab option to be able to list this information in the hopes of finding forever families for these children. We are confident that this option alone will allow MANY more kids to find homes.)

- The ability to join our electronic newsletter with a "click". It would save time, money and trees. With an efficent way to allow individuals to join our electronic newsletter, we would get the right information to the right people in a quicker, more inexpensive and user-friendly way.

How the new functionality will help

We need a new website to better fulfill our mission of finding homes for children in need. As an agency, we learn of about 20 more kids each week that need adoptive families. Currently, we use word of mouth to find homes for these kids. If we had a website that allowed us to list information and pictures (or sometimes even videos) of children available for adoption, the numbers of children finding adoptive homes would dramatically increase.

Another part of our mission is to educate our families through the process. Families need to be well educated on the challenges of adoption- particularly in the case of children who are older or who have special needs. We train families in the areas of attachment and adjustment, cultural awareness, child development, basic health concerns, etc. We train families mostly through in-person individual and group education. Having a website with functions to upload video clips, adoption articles, forms and other information would greatly increase the level of learning that adoptive families in Minnesota and Wisconsin would receive, further easing the transition of a child or sibling group into an adoptive family's home.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

Our Mission

The mission of our agency is to assist adoptive families through the adoption process and to find permanent loving homes for children in need. We have found forever families for children from almost all 50 states and from over 35 different countries around the world. Although we find families for children from newborn up to 16 years old, we have a special emphasis on finding homes for children with special needs. We usually place 70-100 children per year. Almost half of the children we place in homes are older children who would have otherwise lived in an orphanage into adulthood or children who have special needs.