By Carol Mowdy Bond
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has formed a partnership with the 111Project and Canadian County churches.
In so doing, the faith community engages with families and children with Child Welfare Services. This allows the community to connect children and families with resources in real time.
The 111Project, and its tool CarePortal, provide foster family support, assists with biological family reunification, helps with the adoption process and foster family recruitment, and helps youths aging out of the system.
The overall 111Project goal is to mobilize the church to see that every child in Oklahoma has a family.
“111Project was founded in 2011 by child welfare and church leaders to deepen engagement of the faith community in foster care,” said Chris Campbell, executive director of 111Project since 2015. “CarePortal is a platform created by the GO Project in Kansas City, Missouri. 111Project is the statewide lead organization for the platform in Oklahoma.
“Churches, requesting agencies like the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, and resource partners, including businesses, can all be included in participating to help make the network of care stronger in every community in the state.”
In Oklahoma, CarePortal first launched in a pilot with OKDHS in Stephens County in 2015. Full implementation began in 2016 in Tulsa, and then Oklahoma City.
AN ONLINE PLATFORM
111Project and CarePortal work simply.
“CarePortal is an online platform that brings the needs of hurting children and families in your community to your attention,” Campbell said. “Partners at requesting agencies uncover the needs while working with their families.
CarePortal makes local churches, and ultimately the community aware, giving them a real-time opportunity to respond.
This system primarily works through an email system, but there is also a robust web platform that allows individuals to search, advocate, and connect for the meeting of needs in the community.
Agency partners validate that the needs are permissible to be met from the family partners, and that they are significant and appropriate to the family’s situation, according to Campbell.
111Project now has more than 250 churches in Oklahoma as part of CarePortal, and there are more than 2,100 churches involved nationally and even internationally.
A full visual representation of where CarePortal is, and its impact can be seen at http://www.careportal.org/map. CarePortal is now in 20 U.S. states and one Canadian province.
“Currently we are partnered with OKDHS, and Youth and Family Services. CarePortal is now active in 18 Oklahoma counties,” Campbell said. “The collaboration is between many different partners, including churches, state agencies, businesses. Who else is seeing this type of collaboration on a day-to-day basis?”
CANADIAN COUNTY LAUNCH
The Canadian County CarePortal launch was in December at the Canadian County Justice Center in El Reno.
Outside-the-Walls Executive Pastor Clint Chamberlain, from Council Road Baptist Church in Bethany, encouraged launch attendees on the significance of the partnership.
Seventeen Canadian County churches are now involved: The Bridge Church, Mustang; Life Church of Yukon; Life Church of Mustang; Covenant Community Church, Yukon; Church of Christ-South, Yukon; Canadian Hills Church of the Nazarene, Yukon; Bright City; Town and Country Christian Church, Yukon; Mustang United Methodist Church; Heaston Church, El Reno; Grace Church – Episcopal, Yukon; First Baptist Church; Trinity Baptist Church, Yukon; Frontline Church, Yukon; Resurrection Lutheran Church, Yukon; Christ Lutheran Church, Mustang; Bethel Community Church, Yukon.
“Since our December launch in Canadian County, there have been 46 total requests, and 71 percent of the requests have been met, serving a total of 196 children,” Campbell said. “The economic impact has been $12,298.
“Yukon Public Schools is our first pilot with a public-school system in Oklahoma. With YPS as a new partner, we are really excited.”
At the Feb. 3rd YPS school board meeting, YPS District Volunteer Coordinator Dianna Mann told the board that, “Being part of CarePortal will allow us to fill needs we might not otherwise be able to help with, at a quicker rate, and also save us time by being a one-stop shop for help.
“If a counselor learns of a need that a family has, the counselor can submit a request to me, and I will submit the request to CarePortal online.”
MINISTERIAL ALLIANCE SUPPORT
Lead Pastor Chad Penner of Canadian Hills Nazarene Church and the ministerial alliances have been a great support in encouraging churches in the alliance to join CarePortal, according to Campbell.
“Without their help, the launch of the platform would not be possible,” Campbell said. “When churches in a community are already connected, and collaborate well in the community, like through a ministerial alliance, community initiatives like CarePortal are so much easier to get off the ground.”
Pastor Penner is excited for CarePortal to finally make its way into Canadian County.
“I’ve known of it for a few years now and have been anxiously waiting for its arrival,” Penner said. “I’ve met with Chris and others, like Youth & Family Services of El Reno, over the past couple of years, knowing it might come to our county. It’s a great tool that makes it easy for churches to come alongside those who are family and/or family resources insecure in our communities.
“I’m also excited that Yukon Public Schools are able to participate in it, because my work with Dianna Mann and the schools helps me see they are a great segue between families and resources in our community as well,” Penner added.
“The Ministerial Alliance is made up of pastors in Yukon who desire to see our churches, together, be the extension of Jesus. We believe that as Christ followers we live out being the Body of Christ in our day by using the gifts that each of our congregations possesses.”
More than 25 years ago, the Yukon Ministerial Alliance established the Manna Pantry and Compassionate Hands to help meet the physical needs of the community.
“These two efforts do incredible work, with our lay people and other volunteers in the trenches every day with those who are often food-or-lodging insecure in Yukon,” Pastor Penner said. “I’m excited to share that we are within a few months of expanding their work exponentially, as we work to bring their efforts under one roof, also partnering with the great work of Yukon Sharing which is another great work started by caring people in Yukon.”
Yukon Ministerial Alliance pastors pray the invocations at city council, chamber of commerce and school board meetings. They also organize the annual Yukon High School Baccalaureate service.
Several churches have efforts like food pantries, clothing closets, new shoe closets, school supply giveaways and more.
“The work we’re doing to merge efforts of Manna Pantry, Compassionate Hands, etc., are ways to extend and maximize church efforts in ways that we hope increase the dignity of those who are in need, by requiring them to share their story less, and receive assistance more easily,” Penner said. “CarePortal is a great way to do this on an entirely different level.”
111Project stands for “One Church, One Family, for One Purpose,” with a goal of ending the child welfare crisis.
Campbell reiterated that 17 Canadian County churches are now involved.
“But we would love to have 30!” Campbell said.
Churches, groups, and individuals who want to become involved should contact Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.