Care Portal connects churches with families

January 30, 2020

By Jenni Swogger, CYFS assistant manager, El Paso County Human Services

El Paso County began a partnership with the Care Portal in 2016 and since then we have been able to meet needs for over 5,000 of our county’s children. Through the Care Portal, a local network of churches, our caseworkers are able to submit requests on behalf of the families we serve. These requests can be anything from bunk beds to support a relative receiving placement, YMCA passes to support a youth in need of a positive outlet, or car repairs for a parent that is working to maintain employment. While most of our requests are for common needs, such as beds, diapers, clothing, and gas cards, many of our caseworkers use the Care Portal as an opportunity to think creatively about how to connect the church members with families in a way that nurtures ongoing relationships and meet needs that may not have been recognized before.

Beyond the clear benefits of meeting resource needs for the families we serve, the Care Portal has the additional benefit of allowing county funds to be used elsewhere as these material needs are being met by the community. Between 2016 and 2018, 1,549 requests were fulfilled by the Care Portal community amounting to $188,718. In 2019 alone the Care Portal fulfilled 1,766 requests at a dollar amount of $70,028 invested directly into family needs. With over 25 churches currently participating in the Care Portal and more joining the program each year, we have high expectations that this number will only continue to grow.

The greatest impact of all with our use of the Care Portal is that we are able to connect community members to other community members who are in need. When a family has their need met by a community member rather than by the Department of Human Services, it sends a different message, a message that they belong. One of our Care Portal partners is building bunk beds for children who are in need of a place to sleep. On each bed, he inscribes the message “You Are seen, you are known, you are loved." When programs such as the Care Portal create avenues with which to build relationships, the isolation in our community is reduced. When the isolation in our community is reduced, families begin to have the supports they need to thrive.

Is your church interested in a Care Portal partnership? Contact:
Chris Lindgren

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