Four women and mothers who banded together to help the parents of children with disabilities have raised $1 million from crowdfunding for their social network app.
The Birchal campaign closed this week with $1.037 million from 604 investors. Kindship will use the funds to help parents navigate the NDIS. They plan to launch Kindship Wallet, an AI-enhanced function on their app for parents to budget, track and manage their child’s NDIS funding.
The Kindship app matches up parents raising disabled children with parents new to the experience to help them navigate a diagnosis and the associated healthcare and funding systems. Around 2,500 families are using the app each month and more than two-thirds are already on the waitlist for the Kindship Wallet research, 77% of parents on the Kindship social networking app have signed up for the Kindship Wallet waitlist.
There are currently 266,000 NDIS participants under the age of 18, entitled to an additional budget of $1,248 per year to engage a plan manager, which is where the wallet comes into play.
Kindship was cofounded by Summer Petrosius, Sandy Golder, Steph Wicks and Tara Thompson, and during their own research of more than 1,000 families raising kids with a disability found that a quarter of parents spend more than 5 hours a week navigating the NDIS.
Petrosius, Kindship’s CEO, said the issues with dealing with the NDIS have an impact on the health of the parents involved.
“Of the 1 in 4 parents spending 5+ hours each week navigating the NDIS, 83% are neglecting physical exercise, 71% are missing routine medical check-ups, 31% have given up seeking employment, 53% never leave the house, 50% do not go on family holidays, 68% say they do not have time to clean their house properly, 63% are suffering sleep deprivation and 57% are feeling isolated and almost never see their friends and family,” she said.
Amanda Kenny, Kindship’s Head of Community Wellbeing, and a mother of five, including Ashton, who has autism, ADHD, anxiety, and a learning disorder, is a typical example.
“I’ve had to deal with my son’s school refusal, so between having to chase him down streets after I drop him off at school, getting called in by the school to pick him up and taking him to his multiple therapy visits, I barely had any time left for myself, ” she said.
“The limited time I was getting, I was spending it on the NDIS or caring for my husband and father who were both battling cancer. The weight of the world was on my shoulders and the NDIS made life even tougher.”
Cofounder Sandy Golder, who is raising her own child with a disability, said the app allows parents can provide feedback on budget management and spending ideas, as well as local services and other supports that they are using to help their children.
“The demand for disability-related support and services often exceeds what is immediately available,” he said.
“It is not uncommon for families to call numerous service providers seeking help for their child and then sit on waitlists for 12+ months. This experience contributes to the distress and difficulty associated with navigating their child’s diagnosis and disability. We are providing parents with crowdsourced provider reviews and waitlist data, which will help families understand their options and find alternatives. This has never been done before.”
Golder added that Kindship also employs plan managers who are parents children with disabilities such as Kenny.
“The Kindship wallet gives our community the opportunity to consciously spend their NDIS Plan Management budget, and directly contribute to the employment of other parents! Not only are they helping improve the financial well-being of families living with disability, but they are also having access to plan managers that truly understand what everyday life and navigating the NDIS is like. Amanda Kenny is a great example,” she said.