kidsSTRONG believes that all children with cancer deserve better, holistic healthcare options and that the best way to reach this goal is by advancing a system of family centered care focused on quality of life improvements and empowering cancer survivors. We believe that children’s health entrepreneurs can spark this broader transformation in the healthcare system.
Childhood cancer is a family crisis fought every day on American soil. More children still die from cancer than any other disease. This year, 13,000 new children will be told they have cancer in the US alone. They face aggressive treatments and chronic health issues as a direct result of cancer treatment. One third will face death each year. Their lives and the lives of their 90,000 family members will change forever.
There have been dramatic improvements in both treatment and survival of childhood cancer in recent decades, in some cases reaching 70% or more. However, increased survival rates also bring potentially debilitating effects, such as neuropsychological deficits, endocrine dysfunction or subsequent cancers. The life threatening nature of the disease often requires major shifts in lifestyle, psychological and social realities leading to isolation and hopelessness. The problem is further complicated today by the disaggregated sources of information and vast support disparities across the child and family cancer experience.
Most children and their families lack the coping skills, strategies and resources to respond to this extremely stressful life event. The problem is particularly acute in paternalistic health care settings, where the system places priority on just treating the medical disease and not the whole child and family first. Cancer care today often provides state-of-the-science biomedical treatment, but fails to address the psychological and social (psychosocial) problems associated with the illness. Children with cancer and their families deserve and need more. They need cancer care that includes support to navigate the medical system, manage treatment information and cope with their diagnosis as well access to the latest research for cures.
As a nonprofit social programs firm, we are building a large grassroots movement while broker caring corporate relationships and raise capital from both individual and institutional investors. We then use those funds to support innovative programs that provide equal access to high quality information about cancer, treatment and choices while providing help and support during the cancer journey. We start with pilot programs and connect them to established pediatric oncology hospitals and organizations. We analyze the national childhood cancer landscape and the “ecosystem” in targeted geographic areas to determine how these programs are poised to make a difference.
SERVICE CAPACITY BUILDING
At kidsSTRONG, we value innovation and the power of entrepreneurial spirit. Programs with new and better solutions to children’s cancer care problems are often young and imperfect organizations themselves. We understand this, and work with them to build long-term capacity, rather than short-term projects or programs.
Once potential programs are identified, our team engages in a rigorous investment process that includes due diligence on the organization, its management team, its model, product, and results, as well as the market it seeks to address. When we invest in an organization, we serve as active partners by taking a seat on the board of directors and by providing ongoing management assistance to the leadership team as the program grows to scale.
In order to maximize the impact of our program, kidsSTRONG also connects the work of these entrepreneurs with one another and with the broader field through social media and publications. Ultimately, our goal is to empower the social entrepreneurs we support to transform childhood cancer experience so that all children have access to higher-quality family centered care.