Follow Us on Twitter
Editor's Note: Our thoughts are with those impacted by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. While it may be some time until the full impact has been assessed, we will continue to work with our nonprofit partners to determine where our support can be of the greatest benefit. More on our efforts supporting relief in Japan can be found here.
Alex and Carlos were helped by KIND
Guest Post By Wendy Young, Executive Director, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
Unaccompanied children – those under 18 years old who come to the United States without a parent or legal guardian – are largely invisible members of our society. Thousands of these children are placed in deportation proceedings every year without a lawyer to help them make their claim for U.S. protection. The stories of these children – what they suffered in their home country, their journey to the United States, and what has happened to them since they arrived – are often shocking and deeply sad. It is important that we’re aware of these children on the fringes of our society and that we understand the importance of providing them with legal representation. This is at the center of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). We work on providing these vulnerable children with access to legal services.
Technology provides KIND with the ability to reach a wide audience to tell these children’s stories while supporting our staff and volunteers in helping to provide them with a better life. We recognize that our expertise is legal not technological and that is why we partnered with Microsoft to utilize the latest technology while remaining focused on the kids.
Microsoft Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS), which includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting, and Office Communications Online underpins all of our work. We use it for nearly everything we do. We don’t have to worry about our server going down or backing up our data every night. The Cloud is the primary way KIND shares information among all of our sites, and is an extremely useful tool in the training and mentoring of our volunteers. We store individual case information online with the peace of mind that the information is secure and safe. This is particularly important to KIND because the information we learn about our children is confidential and sensitive.
Training is an essential part of KIND’s work. Our volunteer lawyers typically do not have immigration experience when they agree to take on a KIND case. KIND stores training and information that is vital to our volunteer lawyers online enabling them to access the information wherever they are located. KIND pro bono coordinators from across the country access this shared information and use it as a basis for their ongoing mentoring and support, which continues throughout the case. Using the Cloud helps our mentoring become far more efficient and allows our pro bono coordinators to devote more of their time to finding pro bono lawyers to represent children and to training new lawyers.
Improving efficiency and ensuring the right people can access and share information quickly is vital to KIND because it can make all the difference to the children we serve. As an organization, we’re working with more than 2,600 children. The less efficient we are, the less time we have for them.
Technology is an integral part of our daily operations and it enables us to reduce administration and inefficiency so that we can help more children. We look forward to continuing to adopt technology that helps us to reach and support more children in desperate need and to give them a fair chance at gaining safety and security in the United States.