Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Moustache Friday 27.5 Review

  • A sleek, utilitarian, and comfortable electric city bike designed in France, custom-made tubular fenders stay quiet and pair nicely with a sturdy plastic chain cover, swivel handle bar saves space
  • Available in three frame sizes for optimal fit, stock kickstand and pedals are great, quality 11-speed drivetrain with the Shimano one-way clutch for reduced chain bounce, stable and comfortable Super Moto-X tires with puncture protection
  • Premium integrated lights that run off the main battery, the Supernova headlight offers 165 lumens and is mounted on the handlebars for reduced bounce and better visibility, Ortlieb QL3 compatible rear rack, swept-back handlebar and ergo grips
  • Beautiful motor integration, Class 1 ebike with 20 mph top speed from the Bosch Performance Line mid-drive, hidden power battery design keeps weigh low and looks great, three bottle cage bosses, thru-axle with quality suspension fork and a seat post suspension
Moustache is a French electric bike company that was started by two friends in 2011… they only build around the Bosch drive system, and their newer models are some of the most beautiful and thoughtful products that I have seen reach the US. For this review, I looked at the Friday 27.5 but we also had the Samedi 27 XROAD 5 on hand to compare. The names, Friday and Saturday, may speak to the intended use… and with the Friday, you get slick tires vs. knobby and a coil fork vs. air. Usually, I find myself criticizing spring forks for being heavier and cheaper, but that is not always the case. With the SR Suntour MobiE25 you get progressive compression adjust with lockout, preload, and rebound dials. Springs don’t leak air over time and won’t change performance as much if they experience a lot of movement and heat over the course of a ride, but they cannot be sagged the way that air can be (lower air pressure for lighter riders). Regardless, this 63 mm travel fork has beautiful black anodized stanchions and sports a stiff 15 mm thru-axle that you’d expect to see on a mountain bike! Pair that with the tapered head tube, and you’ve got a sturdy overbuild urban front end. The higher volume 2.4″ wide Schwalbe Super Moto-X tires provide comfort and stability, enough float and traction to handle packed trails, and puncture resistant integrated liners (Performance Line GreenGuard). One of the coolest upgrades that this e-bike has received, aside from the tightly integrated motor and battery, are its two-layer tubular aluminum ally fenders, custom made form Moustache. They 65 mm widths that cover more of the big tires, won’t rattle like plastic, won’t rust like steel, and the rear fender was made to support the cargo rack. Notice how this rack is positioned further back, so the saddle can come all the way down. Notice the Ortlieb QL3 mounting points, so you can have panniers with flatter backsides and sturdier, quieter connections. There is so much to love about this electric bicycle, and I feel that it delivers something really special at the $4k USD price point. Yes, it does weigh a bit more than average at ~57.4 lbs, but this is to be expected with a coil fork and complete accessories. The plastic chain cover, integrated premium lights, swept-back handlebar with 45-degree pivot stem, seat post suspension, and classy leather Brooks saddle finish it off. I’ll dig into the major components and describe how they rate against others in the space below.
Driving this bike is mid-motor that brings industry-leading technology (as HAIBIKE TREKKING ) and compromises between power and efficiency. It’s the Bosch Performance Line Cruise… not the high-torque CX or the high-speed “Speed” drive, just the high-performance. It offers up to 63 Newton meters of torque, maximum RPM support of 120 (while many competitors hit ~100 or fade out before 120), shift detection to reduce drivetrain wear, and leading warranty support and service centers worldwide. The Bosch Performance Line motor is relatively compact, and has been tilted back to reduce chain stay length and raise ground clearance… while looking cooler, in this case. It weighs ~8.8 lbs, which is a bit above average, and features minimal plastic casing here. The downside to this motor is increased noise when used in higher power modes and higher speeds, and some friction drag when unpowered or pedaled beyond the supported 20 mph (25 km/h in Europe). This drag is caused by a reduction gearing system that converts each pedal stroke into 2.5 chainring rotations… that’s why the chainring is 17 tooth vs. the equivalent ~42. I found that it worked wonderfully during our test rides through Brooklyn, New York, in combination with the 11-speed Shimano drivetrain. You get an SLX level derailleur here, which is fine for urban riding, and it has been upgraded with Shadow Plus (positioned closer to the wheel and under the right chain stay vs. sticking out). There’s a one-way clutch built in that can be activated by clicking into the up position, to tighten the derailleur spring and reduce chain bounce. This is a feature you’d usually only see on e-mountain bikes and speed pedelecs, it’s an overbuilt part that compliments the beefier fork, and there’s not a lot of downside to having it. SLX is a step below XT, but still great for the type of riding you’d probably do on the Friday 27. I love the sturdy plastic chain cover that comes stock with this bike, the larger stiffer VP alloy pedals, and the rear mounted kickstand. However, I didn’t see a sticker slap guard below the chain (to protect the right stay), so there could be some chips over time if you ride on rough terrain. This is one of my few minor gripes about the bike… So many other details have been dialed in.
Powering the bike is a Bosch Powerpack 500 battery that is uniquely situated inside the lower portion of the downtube. Moustache has been a leader in frame design with their “hidden power” plastic cover concept, and it began with electric mountain models like the Samedi 27 Trail 6. In the States, people have often wanted stealthier ebikes with concealed batteries for riding off-road, so people wouldn’t question or hassle them. I’m excited to see this design concept trickled down to urban models because I think it looks beautiful and improves weight distribution on the bike as well as battery protection and mounting strength. The downsides however, are that the battery takes a bit more balance and dexterity to mount and dismount, and the plastic cover does not lock in place. So, if you’re parked at a public rack, it’s possible that someone could steal the plastic portion… or you could take it off, but then dirt and water could get into the battery compartment. Yes, Bosch batteries and mounts are well sealed against water, but other debris in here would just feel messy and be difficult to clean out. Charging can be done with the battery dismounted or left on the frame and the Bosch charger delivers faster 4 Amp charging (or you can get the slightly lighter 2 Amp travel charger aftermarket). I appreciate how compact and lightweight the stock 1.7 lb charger is, and that Bosch has made a proprietary plug that cannot easily be confused or inserted incorrectly. All of the rubberized plug covers for the battery port and key slot on this frame insert easily and seem to provide good protection, they are all located on the left side of the frame. This battery offers above average capacity and is relatively lightweight at ~5.8 lbs, you may ask why Moustache did not go with the latest Powertube battery, which is fully frame integrated, but I think the Powerpack is preferable in many situations. It’s lighter, probably less expensive, and can be purchased, rented, and borrowed all around the world. The same dimensions and mounting interface was used for the older Powerpack 400 as the 500, so you can even use your old ebike battery to extend range on this bike, carrying it along in a bike bag or pannier. I love that this single batter is used to power the bike, both the front and rear light, and the big display panel… which also has a Micro-USB port on the side for maintaining other electronics on the go. It’s a great design all around.
To activate the Moustache Friday 27.5, you first need to charge and mount the battery. It’s worth highlighting that the battery locks to the frame with a sturdy cylinder and has a metal ledge that clips in, so it shouldn’t rattle loose, break, or be stolen easily. There’s also a frame lock (cafe lock, that disables the rear wheel) with an AXA locking core built onto the seat stays. Both the battery lock and frame lock use the same key, so you don’t need to deal with added clutter, and you could purchase an AXA compatible cable lock to compliment the frame lock without adding a second key or much additional weight. Back to the control systems and activating the bike, just press the little power button near the lower left corner of the Bosch Intuvia display panel, and it blinks to life in seconds. I love this display because I am near sighted, and it is large. You can swivel it forward and back to reduce glare, operate it with a remote button pad (located within reach of the left grip), charge your phone from it using a Micro-USB cable, and even remove the display completely for protection. Other display-mounted buttons include Reset (to clear trip distance), i (to cycle menus), and lights. Having a dedicated light button is useful with an ebike that actually has built-in lights like this, it’s a lot simpler to use than the smaller Bosch Purion display in this sense. Both of these LCD displays have always-on backlighting so you can read them in dark conditions. The headlight produces an impressive 165 lumens, and can be aimed, it’s more than just a “be seen” light that cheaper ebikes tend to use. The really cool thing about all of these control systems is that they are designed with use in mind. You can get to the point where activating the bike, turning on the light, and then riding along and changing power levels is second-nature. I have learned to click up or down to change assist (0-5 levels) without even looking down. The control pad has a nice clicking sound and tactile feel, with a rubberized i button in the middle. It’s clear where your finger is at, and that lets you click and shift gears with the trigger shifters on the right, while you focus on traffic or enjoy the scenery and riding company. The trigger shifters here offer two-way action for high gear changes and multi-shift for lower gear changes. As you shift gears, you empower yourself as well as the motor, and that’s the final special feature that the Bosch Intuvia offers that almost no other display currently does. It gives you hints on when to shift, with little up and down arrows. This is called shift assistance, and it can help you maximize range by supporting motor RPM performance.
In conclusion, this is one of the nicer urban or city oriented electric bikes that I have reviewed in recent years. I feel that you get excellent value for the ~$4k price point, compared to ebikes with similar specs, and the same drive system. I like that Moustache kept the standard Performance Line motor vs. going with the CX, because it’s quieter and more efficient. The difference between the mountain motor’s 75 Nm of torque vs. 63 Nm hasn’t been noticeable to me in urban riding conditions. The bigger question for US customers might be whether they need the Speed motor, which can reach nearly 28 mph assisted. There are some aftermarket solutions to make this motor go faster, but they will void your warranty. For people who commute or want to do long range trekking and touring, the Moustache Friday 27.5 could be an excellent option because of its unique upright geometry and multiple frame size options. Both wheels have quick release for on-the-go fixes and Brooks saddles are known for becoming more comfortable as the miles wear on. For people who want to add non-Ortlieb QL3 bags, it looks like you can remove the circular knobs from the rack and use QL2 (or other systems). Coming back to the drive system for a moment, the Bosch motor controller is measuring rear wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque, over 1,000 times per second, and is one of the most responsive and sometimes zippy ebike motors I have tested. One of the trade-offs from the standard Performance Line back to the CX is that you do not get eMTB mode, which is more of a torque sensing level (that replaces the third step, Sport mode). I love that Moustache has not disabled walk mode here and that they included comfortable ergonomic grips and a bell! Big thanks to Moustache for partnering with me on this review and to Chris from Propel Bikes in Brooklyn for his support, bringing multiple models to ride on our adventure and providing some input about why he chose to carry the brand… and of course, for wearing a fake mustache with me during the video :D


  • Beautiful battery and motor integration here, Moustache designed an inset area on the downtube to lower battery weight and developed a plastic cover to hide it, it uses a simple spring to stay in place and does not rattle
  • I love it when ebikes make room for bottle cage bosses and the Friday 27.5 has them on the seat tube in the main triangle and just below the saddle as well as below the top tube! The rear set of bosses on the seat tube could be used for a folding lock like the ABUS Bordo or a mini pump like this
  • By using the Powerpack 500 instead of the new Powertube from Bosch, the batteries are lighter weight, less expensive, and easier to find while traveling (so you could ship the bike and rent a battery on site)
  • Made in three frame sizes for optimal fit and comfort, this is especially important with a high-step frame design
  • Comfortable high-volume and high-quality tires smooth out the ride and shouldn’t get flats as easy because they have Performance Line GreenGuard puncture protection
  • Custom tubular alloy fenders are stiffer and stronger than single layer fenders, they won’t rattle as much as plastic or rust like steel, I like how the rear rack is connected to the back fender to be minimalist in design, and that it’s positioned out of the way of the saddle if dropped way down
  • This is more of a commuter style ebike and the slick tires are efficient but you get comfort from the higher air volume, suspension fork, suspension seat post, and leather saddle from Brooks, the handlebars are also swept back and have ergonomic grips… it feels great
  • Unique adjustable stem swivels 45-degrees so you can squeeze the bike into tighter spaces and maybe not bump doorways as much, imagine stacking multiple bikes next to each other and having that extra space at the rack
  • I love the Bosch Intuvia display panel because it’s big and easy to read but also removable for safe storage (just like the main battery), there’s even a Micro-USB port on the display for charging or maintaining portable electronics like your phone, the display mount is compatible with the COBI smartphone mount that Bosch now owns
  • In addition to fenders, the Friday 27.5 also comes with a tight chain cover to keep your pant legs clean and snag-free, it’s a little touch and it’s done very well here
  • Excellent Shimano SLX drivetrain with 11 speeds for navigating a wide range of surfaces and terrain, the bike seems made mostly for pavement and the tires are slicks but the 2.4″ width makes them stable and capable of light off road use, the one-way clutch design on the derailleur will tighten the derailleur spring and reduce chain slap if you do find yourself on bumpy terrain
  • I love the integrated lights, the headlight is mounted way up high on the handlebars and is aimable, it won’t bounce around as much as fork-arch mounted lights, the rear light stays clear of the rack and all cargo you might add and both lights run off of the main battery and are controlled through the display so they cannot be left on accidentally
  • Good Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, the front rotor is larger at 180 mm to improve stopping speed and disburse heat more quickly
  • Decent kickstand (positioned where it should be, towards the back to support the rack and stay clear of the left crank) and nice stock pedals (larger, stiff, good traction)
  • The AXA frame lock is good for quick errands and can be paired with an AXA Defender Cable to secure to posts and racks easily
  • Both wheels offer quick release and the front uses a sturdy thru-axle which will be more responsive, it helps to support the weight of the bigger tire as well
  • Very nice rims, notice the reinforcement eyelets to spread weight and force from the spoke and reduce cracking, nice black paint job with matching black spokes vs. silver
  • Since this ebike is running hydraulic brakes, you can adjust the levers for reach (making them easier to use for small and large hands alike, or gloved hands)
  • Even though I love air suspension because it tends to weight less and offer sag adjustability, this is a really nice coil shock that should be very durable and perform consistently throughout a ride, I love that it has compression clicker with lockout, preload, and rebound adjust with black anodized stanchions!


  • The “hidden power” plastic cover is great, but doesn’t really lock to the bike frame which means it could be tampered with or stolen when you’re parked at the bike rack
  • The ~57.4 lbs weight for the medium sized frame is a bit on the high side, but that’s probably due to the fenders, rack, cafe lock on the rear wheel, lights and spring suspension vs. air
  • I could see how many commuters would be interested in faster Class 3 Bosch Performance Line Speed motor vs. the standard Performance Line, but this one should get better range and doesn’t require special licensing (in Europe), it’s allowed almost anywhere a normal bicycle would be
  • Minor gripe here, I’d love to see reflective sidewalls on the tires since this is more of an urban ebike, they would compliment the integrated lights nicely, consider adding reflective stickers like this or this to the sides of the wheelset and frame to stand out more or wear reflective clothing
  • Another minor consideration, I’d love to see Supernova update their E-Bike E3 V6S headlight to have side cutouts so it would shine out a bit and create more of a visual footprint for the bike than just forward
  • Because the Bosch Performance Line motors use a proprietary smaller chainring, they spin at 2.5x per pedal crank revolution ad there’s a reduction gear at work, this creates some friction when pedaling unassisted (if the bike is off or you’re pedaling beyond the 20 mph top supported speed)
  • Very minor complaint here, but there didn’t appear to be a sticker slap guard on the right chainstay… you probably won’t see the chips because of the plastic chain cover, but the chain could still take wear and the frame might get scratched up a bit because there’s no protection

Saturday, September 23, 2017

What Are The Problems With Solar Power

If you are planning to buy a photovoltaic system, you are supposed to start with increasing energy efficiency of your home or office.

Achieving energy efficiency means reducing electrical consumption and your monthly electricity bills respectively.

Why is energy efficiency so important?

Simply because saving energy is less expensive than producing energy. By improving energy efficiency the cost of the photovoltaic system you are going to install will be reduced.

Electrical heating devices (electrical boilers, cookers) are not advisable to be powered by solar electric systems. For every heating appliance you should find a proper both energy-efficient and cost-effective alternative.

As a matter of fact, heat is always an expensive source. Actually you all those devices can be powered by solar generated electricity. It is however too far from cost effective, since all heating devices are ‘power-hungry’.
If you’re planning to buy a solar electric system, please mind the following:
Electricity generated by a PV system (for example: RENOGY 200 WATT 12 VOLT SOLAR STARTER KIT ) is still more expensive than electricity supplied from utility grid unless you live in a remote region where connecting to a utility grid would cost you a fortune. PV systems do make solar electricity more affordable (than, for example, it was 20-30 years ago) but prices still remain relatively high. Nevertheless for the last few years prices of solar photovoltaic panels have dropped 80% on average and they still continue to decrease.
Using PV systems for heating is not recommended. For heating you should use a solar thermal system. Another option for heating is propane or natural gas.
High costs of a PV system are concentrated in a substantial initial investment. Often the biggest problem is to find initial financing. Once a PV system is installed with its payback spread over a long enough period of time, it is nice to feel independent from the utility grid or to see your monthly electricity bills go down. Buying a PV system is actually like paying in advance your electricity bills for years ahead, and the point is just to avoid the essential burden of high initial costs. That is why it is important to find a suitable source of financing.
PV systems only produce power when the sun is shining. Therefore something should be done with the electricity produced – it should be either consumed right away, or exported to the grid (in grid-tied systems), or stored in a battery for later use (in stand-alone systems).
For people who are connected to the grid usually the decision to purchase a PV system is based on economics – reducing their monthly bill by selling power to the utility. For people living in remote areas, who are far from any utility company, the decision to purchase a PV system is not determined by economic reasons but is rather a matter of securing a normal life instead.

If your home or office is connected to a local utility grid, fully replacement of the utility with a PV system might not be cost-effective.

Offsetting a part of your electrical consumption to a solar system however could be an excellent way to save money on electricity.

The utility company’s costs for generating electricity are always lower than yours because any utility spreads the cost for generating electricity among all its customers.

For this reason the price you, being connected to the grid, pay for electricity is lower than the price you pay for generating solar electricity yourself – and you certainly do pay for generating electricity because, although the solar energy is free, solar equipment is not free.

Furthermore home PV systems are usually not practical for powering large heating systems – heaters, huge electric stoves, air conditioners or electric clothes dryers.

So, you have to select the most energy-efficient loads to be powered by solar electricity, and search for reasonable alternatives for energy non-efficient devices.

Moreover you have to start with improving the energy efficiency of your home.

There are national or regional standards, like the National Electric Code (NEC) in the U.S., adopted to ensure safety in all systems that generate, store, transport, and consume electricity.

The dealer of your PV system should follow such requirements related to equipment and wiring, so that the PV system be approved by local electric code officials.

Only by doing so you may expect the price of your property to increase after installing a solar electric system.

In many countries it is required by law that all electrical equipment be installed by a licensed electrician.

On the other hand however, many local code officials do not have enough knowledge of PV systems. This means that even if you follow the rules of the adopted standards, you may have problems to prove to a code official that you have installed a code-approved solar system.

Therefore it is recommended to contact local code officials and provide them with necessary explanations before you purchase and install a photovoltaic system.

A good plan would be to invite them to inspect the installation process before the whole system is completed. This might help your system obtain the needed approval.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What Is a Portable Generator? Why Buy a Portable Generator?

Since the time Michael Faraday invented the very first electric motor, life has become more and dependent on electricity. So much so that in virtually everything we do, electricity plays a role. For instance, electricity enables us to keep our food fresh, cook out meals, wash our clothing and keep our homes warm.

Some people even depend on electricity to operate medical equipment that supports their lives. Electric pumps are responsible for pumping water in rural areas. Should a hurricane hit, you will definitely need a source of electricity to power your necessary appliances. A portable generator serves to provide electricity in situations where electric power from the grid is not available.

A portable generator (for example: GOAL ZERO YETI 150 SOLAR GENERATOR KIT ) is typically a generator encased in a strong steel roll-cage besides having a wheel kit. The roll-up age makes rolling up the wheel kit as may be necessary-possible. But how much weight is too much? Since some portable generators weigh as high as 200p pounds, portability is entirely relative especially for higher wattage generators in the market. Many portable generators, nonetheless, come with recoil start just like several other small machines. Some models have both electrical as well as recoil starting mechanisms.

So, why would one need a portable generator? While most persons tend to associate generators with emergencies, those are not the only uses. Portable generators are dependable machines that can be used daily to power tools on a construction site. They can also be used to supply power during power outages, for various home applications, camping among many others. All a user has to do is fill up the generator’s fuel tank, turn it on and plug in the appliances to be powered. Provided the generator’s capacity is not exceeded, living life off the grid can be realized.
Portable Generators: Features that count

● Power and Fuel Efficiency

Each and every single generator have two types of power ratings; surge wattage and running wattage. The running wattage level electric power a generator and continuously handle. The surge wattage refers to the amount a generator can handle for minimal flashes typically lasting about 10 seconds. The latter accounts for the power surge that arises when electric device together with electric motors start. The amount involved can be as much as four times the power necessary to operate.

Having said that, when shopping for a portable generator, pay attention particularly to fuel efficiency. Generally, the best uses less than a half a gallon per hour and has 14 hours running time on half load. Also, opt for one that does not run at full power at all times. A generator that can adapt automatically to the power demanded by the load is fuel efficient. It, thus, delivers a higher running time for every tankful of fuel.

Read more: Tips on Generator Size Calculator
​● Safety features

It includes circuit breakers, never-flat tires, and grounding methods and spark arrestors. A more important safety feature is the GFCI (Ground-fault Circuit Interrupter) protection. This is a sensor that quantifies the AC going to and from the generator. Should the returning electric current reduce, the implication is it has found another path to the round. The function of GFCI is to cut the power whenever this happens, thereby protecting its user from electrocution. So, if a portable generator has this form of protection, it stands out from the crowd.

Another safety feature to consider is the operating noise. Gas generators use combustible enginesjust like normal cars. They are bound to make noise. A very loud generator makes it hard to communicate with others and/or annoy neighbors while it’s being used.

● Control Panel Features & Ease of Use

The control panel of any generator is the place where meters, switches, and many other controls exist. Expect to find 4 standard household plugs in addition to at least one 120/240 V twist lock AC outlet designed for huge applications or even industrial applications cords. The best generators come with electric ignitions requiring a simple push of a button or flip of a switch to start the portable generator. Since these start options require electricity, a recoil ignition is still necessary to make it possible to start the generator when the battery is exhausted.
● Help & Support

Any generator that does not come with three years of warranty is not good enough. Note, though that most manufacturers do not sell to consumers directly. Even then, a customer should still be assured of excellent support while using the generator. The warranty should cover issues such as enough contact information, a service center where the generator can be fixed or serviced offer general guidelines on how to best use the generator. There should also be plenty videos, product manuals, maintenance tutorials and a platform through which a customer can ask any question.
● Price

Most portable generators are priced in the range of 500 to 800 US Dollars. However, powered ones-those producing power less than 4000 W-are priced slightly lower than this range. Those of 9000 W and beyond, on the other hand, are priced approximately 1000 US dollars currently. As is the norm with all other machines, there is an increase in price with an increase in power output.

The type of fuel, as well as the use of inverter technology also, plays a part in the price range of a portable generator. Expect to part with as much as 10 percent more for Propane generators compared to their gasoline counterparts. Inverter generators have a 50 percent price premium committed to them. So, while choosing, have these facts in mind.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

L.A.’s Plan to Tackle the 6-Million Hour Gorilla: Foster Care Visitations

Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) issued a report last week estimating that the department spends two million staff hours facilitating another four million hours of “visitation” every year.

When a child is removed from the custody of his or her parent due to abuse and neglect, a key part of the reunification process is ensuring that child can visit with his or her parent.

“If the ultimate goal is to have children live with their parents or live with their family, they have to see each other and build trust and love,” said Brandon Nichols, DCFS’ acting director.

Many of these visits are monitored, providing the courts with critical information that helps judicial officers decide whether or not a child can be safely returned home.

But in a county like Los Angeles, where the 10,000 children receiving reunification services are shuttled across tens of thousands of miles of road, visitation is a logistical nightmare. Reunification takes an average of 10.2 months in L.A. County, almost twice as long as the national average of 5.2 months.

In recognition of both the critical importance and the crippling immensity of administering these visits, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors issued a motion in September of last year directing DCFS to come up with a plan to help speed up the reunification process. Half a year later, the department delivered.

The goal, according to the report, is what the department is calling “visitation coaching.”

“Visitation Coaching will allow an opportunity to honor the pre-existing bond, and minimize the impact of removal while at the same time develop parent capacity specifically in the areas that led to removal,” the report reads.

To get there, the department is asking the Board of Supervisors for at least $1.5 million to hire 18 new administrators to serve as “air traffic-controllers” coordinating visits. It also outlines a pilot that relies on a church in Pasadena, and is hopeful that a “foster care hackathon” in April will help speed the application of technological solutions.

The report also stresses the importance of the county’s 243 human service aides (HSAs) who spend 75 percent of their time monitoring and driving to and from visits. Another 86 HSA positions “are in the process of being filled.”

But given the immensity of the visitation challenge, these aides are not nearly enough to handle it all. The department also reimburses foster parents and other caregivers to transport children to visits, which often take place in one of the county’s 18 regional offices.

Until February of this year Shari Walker* worked as one of those aides. Walker said that the work was non-stop, and that it was commonplace to cut back on the amount of visitation that the courts ordered.

“It was very difficult especially for the children who were close to their parents, not being able to give them as many hours as they would like because there was another visit [for another child] right after,” Walker said. “I wish there was more time.”

While HSAs are some of the lowest paid employees in the department, with base salaries of a little less than $36,000 a year, Walker said that they have an outsized role in some of the most traumatic moments of a child’s life.

She remembers spending a long day and night with a 6-year-old girl and her baby sister. The day started at around 10:00 a.m. when the siblings were removed and did not end until 1:00 a.m. the next day when Walker dropped the children off at a foster home in a neighboring county.

It took her 20 minutes to calm the older girl down, who clung to her.

“What’s important about this story,” Walker said, “is that five months later the little girl remembered me and gave me a hug.”

To help free up more of the aides’ time, the DCFS plan requests funds to hire 18 new children’s services administrators. These administrators are intended to be the point person for each office, scheduling transportation for children, parents and caregivers; working with the faith-based community and foster family agencies; and helping to develop visitation centers Seattle.

“This sort of meaningful and purposeful visitation planning will ideally result in positive visitation and reunification outcomes,” the report reads.

Data provided in the report show that 36 percent of children removed from April to June 2015 reunified with their parents within 12 months, a few points shy of the national standard.

In addition, Nichols of DCFS says that the department needs to get better about where it places children.

“The closer kids are to the home of origin, the closer they are to family, the more these issues take care of themselves,” he said. “The farther out they get, the more it compounds. The less time kids spend on freeways and the more time they spend getting to be kids with their families, outcomes will improve.”

The department’s plan also includes a pilot program with the Foster Care Project at All Saints Church in Pasadena. In 2013, the church launched its Family Connect program, which relies on volunteers to monitor visits at safe, child-friendly visitation centers.

In its report, the department is requesting 90 days to sketch out exactly how an expanded partnership with All Saints would work.

In the September board motion that got the ball rolling, then-Supervisor Mike Antonovich and current Supervisor Sheila Kuehl directed DCFS to look into whether ride-sharing companies like Uber or Lyft could be used to ease the transportation burden that comes with visitation. A county in Washington State, for example, piloted a program with Uber Business that showed early success in ensuring that parents made it to their visits.

While DCFS’ plan doesn’t provide much detail on this count, it does reference the importance of technology in the process.

“In search of Technology Solutions, DCFS is participating in #HackFosterCareLA**, a two-day event that will take place this Spring,” the report reads.

One of the challenge statements for that event – which will bring together software programmers, foster youth and child welfare professionals – is focused on how to improve foster care visitation.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

4 Step Action Plan to Start a Business after Setback

Many people dread going back to work after they have suffered an injury. They may have received compensation, but they may not be able to go back to their old job due to injury. Starting your own business with the compensation received may seem like an attractive idea for many. While this is certainly possible, you do need to be careful and do your research before jumping n with both feet. There are number of steps you need to take care of before you can open the door for business. The 4-step action plan described below will help you alleviate some of the jitters associated with starting a business.

1. Think About the Type of Business You Want to Run

Many people wish to start their own business because it allows them to be their own boss, make their own hours, and work where they choose. If you have suffered from a serious injury that has changed your life and your mobility, you may decide to invest in a new business and partner with the right people who can do most of the work after receiving your instructions. Another option would be to start a business from home and then run it online from your home office, where you can have everything you need without having to worry about a daily commute.

2. Write a Business Plan

Writing up a business plan is the first step that you need to take when you are serious about setting up a business. This will include sections that cover your executive summary, company description, market analysis, organization and management, service or product line, marketing and sales, funding request, and financial projections, along with an appendix.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

How Can Small Businesses Get Attention of Your Customers

Marketing your business may seem like a challenge in today’s competitive market. Thankfully, there are few things that you can do to make your company stand apart from the rest. Having a valuable marketing strategy is essential for keeping your business unique and relevant. Whether your business is large or small, you need to understand how to achieve an effective presence and become a key figure in the business world.

Build a Website that Calls Attention

Having an online presence is critical in today’s market. With a website, your customers, both current and potential, will be able to access information immediately concerning your business. Information on your site should include your current products that are available, hours of operation, and the location of your business. A website is also a great platform for customers who like to shop online.

Enhance Your Social Media Presence

Social media will help your business build relationships, increase brand recognition, develop traffic, and produce revenue. With social media, consumers are able to participate and engage with your business and like-minded individuals seamlessly. Most social media channels will give you the opportunity to post updates about your business, notify customers concerning specials, give informative tips, and deliver news stories of interest. You will also be able to answer questions and give constructive feedback to your everyday consumers. Having a mobile device handy will permit you to respond to posts quickly and keep your followers up-to-date.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

5 Myths about Internet Marketing Business Leaders Need to Know

In this age if you are not marketing your business on the internet you will likely not survive for too long. When majority of the people turn to internet when searching for a place to eat, an accountant, or even a house purchase your business will never get the attention of prospective buyers if you are not marketing on the internet. When is the last time did you open the Yellow Pages to find something?

While internet marketing is essential for any business many people have false idea about what internet marketing is about and how do it. They hold myths that may have been acquired over the years. Knowing these myths and finding ways to escape them will not only help you avoid unnecessary expenses, but also grow your business the right way. Here are the 5 most popular myths you need to be careful about.

Word of mouth is sufficient to get the referrals

Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool to get new clients. After all, when people recommend a business to their family and friends they will place greater faith in it. However, just relying on word of mouth will limit your potential to grow the business. There are number other internet marketing avenues you need to be aware of and explore to get more referrals and grow your business. Don’t get me wrong. You should still rely on word of mouth to get referrals, but it will help you if you can help your customers spread the word about your business via what I call active word of mouth. This is where you stay in touch with your customers regularly, ask them about their feedback and provide incentives to them to get the word out about your business. When you combine active word of mouth with other internet marketing avenues you can grow your business significantly.

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