In response to the surge of Unaccompanied Immigrant Children coming into the US over the past year, a group has come together in Maryland to produce a social service-finding portal for these kids. Buscando offers a very clean, usable platform for a child or her advocate to find the right kind of help.
The site offers its visitors a simple search to find all different types of help, through a very direct entry point. Choose which type of service you’re looking for from the drop-down options, and then type in a location. The ultra-simple interaction prevents users from getting overwhelmed with options and prompts them to take an action asap.
The list includes legal services. Simply choose the legal option from the drop-down menu, and then find a shortlist of legal service providers who are located close to you.
The results do have their limitations in this first draft of the site. It doesn’t allow for an easy or warm handoff from the portal to the service provider. Nor does it triage the user to ensure that they are eligible for help from the service provider. After getting the name & phone number of the provider, it’s up to the user to go down the list, call them up, and try to find the right match.
Buscando is a great new kind of starting point for getting legal services to lay people. Rather than offer a landing page packed with links, icons, and options — give a very direct search and limited paths to take. Ideally, after this very direct first action, then the site would allow for more differentiation and case-specific support. The user could find the exact right service-provider for them — that they would be eligible to receive support from, and that would give them the right type of help.
The other point to note about Buscando is the process & collaborative behind it. It’s an open-source tool — you can see the code & fork it here on Github. And it was built by a team of volunteers:
Buscando was built entirely by volunteer technologists associated with HearMeCode, TechLadyHackathon, and Code for Progress – organizations working to build the power of women, people of color, and low-income people in the tech industry.
It’s terrific to see a very useful & timely project come together, and in an open, interdisciplinary & generous way. It would great to see this model replicated for other areas & also scaled up with more tools integrated into the platform.