In the United States, there are nearly 23 million social workers, police officers, teachers, nurses, and other public servants who regularly connect people in need with the services they need. However, these professionals most frequently must rely on word-of-mouth referrals, paper directories, and hours upon hours of Googling to do so, resulting in inefficient and, in some cases, ineffective care.
Why does this problem exist?
The landscape of social services is constantly evolving: service eligibility requirements change, agency contact people come and go, programmatic offerings expand and contract based on agency funding, and so on. Most social service professionals are too busy to spend significant time collecting and validating such information personally, and most social service agencies do not have room in their budgets to invest in tools that would enable them to do so organizationally.
Various nonprofit entities have attempted to aggregate and deliver such information in printed directories, online portals, or call centers, but they have generally struggled to keep their data up-to-date because of the considerable technical challenges involved and their associated costs. Moreover, potential for-profit vendors of such elusive information are competing against “free” services that have existed, in some cases, for decades: word-of-mouth referrals, paper directories, and online search engines.