OKLAHOMA CITY -- The 111Project, local churches and community stakeholders have pioneered an innovative partnership with OKDHS to transform how the faith community directly engages with families and children interfacing with Child Welfare Services. To date, over $2.5 million dollars have been employed to serve more than 6,400 children and families through the 111Project's technology tool, CarePortal.
The CarePortal is a geographically-based online service platform that directly connects the needs of children and families to resource providers, like local churches, in real time. This allows the community the opportunity to tangibly support children and families in crisis, provide foster family support, assist the work of biological family reunification, help in the process of adoption, recruit foster families and even assist youth aging out of the system.
The process begins when an OKDHS worker identifies a need that could empower or hinder a client in making progress with his or her case. The needs can range from transportation support like bus passes, household items for individuals coming out of incarceration, necessities for children or items that could assist a foster family in the stabilization of their placement. Churches signed up on the CarePortal in close proximity receive the needs via email and are able to quickly, effectively and personally meet these needs.
With over 221 active churches in 17 counties, this collaboration plans to roll out the CarePortal in all 77 Oklahoma counties as more churches sign up to participate in every part of the state.
"The problem has never been not enough resources. We have people in the faith community who want to help--they just don't always know how," says Chris Campbell, Executive Director of 111Project. "We want to be a support to not only the families and children, but to the OKDHS workers who tirelessly tackle challenges every day."
In July 2019, OKDHS and CarePortal, in partnership with 111Project, created a contract utilizing existing federal funding to assist with statewide expansion of the initiative.
"Hope is rising in the state of Oklahoma because of CarePortal," according to OKDHS Child Welfare Director, Dr. Deb Shropshire. "We launched it in a small 'pilot' county because we wanted to see if it would actually work the way we imagined. Little did we know three years later we'd have expanded to impact more than 50% of our state's population and be looking toward our entire state being active within the next few years. CarePortal is positioned to provide an unprecedented value to OKDHS that far exceeds the financial investment and goes beyond money. Not only has it brought significant concrete physical supports to the families and foster families we serve, but, much more than that, has been the relational impact on families and on our staff."
111Project has a goal of seeing 1,000 active churches as a part of its Oklahoma Pledge campaign, recruiting one foster family per year and meeting at least one CarePortal opportunity per month.
"With every church doing a little, we believe this simple strategy of support and recruitment will help our state meet all of our hopes for a better child welfare, while giving the church deepening pathways of engagement," states Chris Campbell. "111Project has already seen dozens of families move from assisting with physical needs of children and families, to getting invested in deeper ways, opening their homes as foster parents or committing to support a family preventing their children from ever entering state care. A reality is coming of families waiting on children instead of children waiting on families in the Oklahoma Child Welfare system."
The 111Project exists to mobilize the local church, so that no child who needs a family is without one. To learn more about the 111Project Oklahoma Pledge Campaign visit www.oklahoma.111project.org. To learn more about CarePortal or give to the expansion of the program in Oklahoma visit www.111project.org/careportal.