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Computer BuddiesTM*
by Nexuskids
Through the Eyes of the Child

Tips for Successful Implementation of the Program

The COMPUTER BUDDIES COORDINATOR assumes overall responsibility for the implementation of Computer Buddies. The primary goal of the program is to improve academic success for children and youth in foster care. The Computer Buddies Coordinator usually is an employee of the Department of Social Services who holds other job responsibilities.  If the coordinator is a foster parent then close collaboration with the designated DSS liaison will be needed to successfully implement the program.  Co-coordinators are acceptable if the county wishes to organize their Computer Buddies Program in this way.  In addition to building a team to help with implementation of the program, the following tips are included to help the coordinator(s) successfully implement the program:

The Computer Buddies Coordinator will emphasize to Computer Buddies that their primary role is to focus on their foster child’s education by being an educational coach, in order to improve the academic success of their foster child.

·        Attend Nexuskids Computer Buddies training and become familiar with the training materials, websites and technical support that may be provided by Nexuskids.

·        Help to identify, recruit and support the Computer Buddies Technical Manager(s) and coordinate training and program implementation.  The Technical Manager may be a community volunteer, a foster parent, or a DSS employee. 

·        Work closely with the DSS foster care workers and supervisors to implement the Computer Buddies program. 

·        Identify and orient community partners to help recruit Computer Buddies.

·        Inform foster parents about the program.  In addition to the need to increase parental awareness and support of foster children’s academic success, include in the orientation that the computer systems are the property of the South Carolina Foster Parents Association and as such are “on loan” to the families of school age foster children.  Be sure the parents understand that the South Carolina Foster Parents Association, the Children’s Law Office (Nexuskids), and the Department of Social Services cannot maintain the computer, provide supplies or Internet access.

·        Recruit persons who may be interested in serving as Computer Buddies.  Because foster children have a history of abuse and neglect, it is important that Computer Buddies are sensitive to these issues. All DSS volunteers who work with abused and/or neglected children in foster care, including Computer Buddies, must be screened to assure no one with a criminal history or history of child abuse and neglect has contact with the foster child. Consequently, it is essential that Computer Buddies have undergone routine background checks by DSS, have received orientation training before being introduced to the family, and have the approval of the parents before meeting the child. Computer Buddies may be community volunteers—both teens and adults—recruited through civic groups, colleges, parent associations, high schools, technical schools, businesses, or places of worship.  Computer Buddies can be family friends or relatives recruited by the foster family.

·        Provide training and orientation of Computer Buddies.  This training can be coordinated with Nexuskids or provided on-site utilizing Nexuskids’ training videos and material.  Ongoing training and support of Computer Buddies is essential.

·        Provide Computer Buddies with the software package containing the imaging software CD, educational software CD, and blank disk for computer start-up.

·        Assist DSS staff in matching Computer Buddies with foster children.  Following a successful background search by DSS, Computer Buddies will be matched to foster children depending on the needs of the child and family.  Matching criteria will include matching technical computer skills of the Computer Buddy to what the foster family requests, according to the emotional, developmental, and academic needs of the foster child.  The foster family and Computer Buddy must both feel comfortable with each other in order to work effectively with individual foster children in the home. Where there is more than one school age foster child in a foster family, the foster family, the Computer Buddy, and the DSS caseworker will work together to determine the  overall computer needs of the foster family and how the Computer Buddy may be able to help to  support the entire family.

·        Advise Computer Buddies how to handle confidential and sensitive information.  Foster children have been exposed to trauma that even many adults have trouble comprehending.  It is possible that a foster child, once he or she has come to trust an adult such as a foster parent or Computer Buddy, might disclose information about abuse or neglect that is unknown to the Department of Social Services.  If this should come up, Computer Buddies should know whom to call at DSS with the information.  Similarly, Computer Buddies need to be briefed on the need to maintain strict confidentiality in order to protect the foster child.  It is recommended that each Computer Buddy sign a confidentiality form acknowledging he or she is aware of the need for confidentiality.

·        Identify secure, temporary storage for the computer systems and help to coordinate their delivery to foster families.  Any appropriate facility or room that is safe and secure and approved by the DSS County Director may be used.  The storage area does not need air conditioning, but it must be dry to avoid damage to the computers.

·        Manage the process for disseminating the computer systems for your county.  While the Computer Buddies Coordinator and Technical Manager are encouraged to involve Nexuskids with strategic planning and technical assistance to implement Computer Buddies as efficiently as possible, the ultimate success of Computer Buddies rests with strong, local planning and a sound understanding of each community’s assets.  Identify a team to help with implementation!  Assure, with the Computer Buddies Technical Manager, that an inventory of equipment is completed prior to delivering any computer system into a foster home.

·        Assist Computer Buddies in finding the assistance needed to install the computers and software in conjunction with the Computer Buddies Technical Manager(s).

·        Be familiar with the educational software provided for foster children and encourage Computer Buddies to regularly update the foster child’s software, depending on the child’s academic needs.

·        Encourage completion, receipt and analysis of the short Computer Buddies Monthly Status Reports.  Electronic submission of this form is acceptable.

·        Maintain contact with the Foster Parents Association and Nexuskids as appropriate to understand needs and interests.  By working as a team, our combined efforts will decrease the level of work for all parties.

·        Develop a system whereby technical assistance can be provided as needed and appropriate.  The system should include a method of receiving requests, acknowledging requests, and responding to requests for assistance in a timely manner.

·        Provide ongoing assistance and continuous encouragement necessary for the effective implementation of Computer Buddies.  Appropriate recognition of Computer Buddies for their volunteer service is essential.

·        Be familiar with the official Nexuskids website (www.Nexuskids.org) and regularly browse the technical website established for Computer Buddies (www.help-net.com/computer buddies) to stay up on current educational issues affecting foster children, software and other technical assistance that will help in sustaining computer use by foster children and involvement of volunteers.


A program of the
The Center for Child and Family Studies
College of Social Work
226 Bull Street Suite 130
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208

http://www.nexuskids.org    http://www.computerbuddies.us

 *Trademark of the Computer Buddies program by Nexuskids is in process (February 2002).



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Last modified: June 04, 2008