“The keenest revelation of a society’s soul is found in how it cares for its children.” – Nelson Mandela
There’s a child-care crisis all over the world and America is no exception. The data is staggering. More than 4 million US children are hot lined annually. More than 400,000 are in foster care, and 100,000+ live as wards of the state. They are the unseen U.S. orphans.
Most of these children lose – big time. Each year, 20,000 teenagers “age out” of the system. The link between foster care and time in prison, getting trafficked, and homelessness is well documented. Child welfare is Ground Zero, and therefore, is a defining issue for the Church.
Our overtaxed foster system demands radical thinking. Something new. Innovative. Something more effective. It’s time to disrupt the status quo and actually improve the wellbeing of kids and families.
CarePortal is connecting technology that drives action for local kids and families in crisis. CarePortal.org connects those who can help with those who need help. Right now, in real time. Some think of it as kind of an Uber for child welfare.
Most children are removed from their families not because of abuse, but neglect. Neglect undergirded by poverty and lack of healthy community support. Traditional interventions often wait until after the family breaks down to intercede. By then, many of the best options are off the table. Through sharing technology, CarePortal leverages the greatest care distribution network on earth, engaging the local church earlier in the process.
Vetted needs are entered into CarePortal by professional social workers, serving as case managers for at-risk children and families. CarePortal then shares these specific needs with churches, businesses, and other local community leaders who all answered “Yes” to this one question: Are you willing to receive an e-mail about a vulnerable child in your community? The most common need is for a bed.
Meeting a simple need in the right way at the right time can be the difference between a child staying with a family member or being removed from their home. Seven out of ten times, a CarePortal local church responder or several working together, meet the need, often connecting with the family in a personal way. These introductions can grow into meaningful friendship. Relational, scalable, proactive, CarePortal drives real-time action upstream; to strengthen a family before the family breaks down.
In our divided society, most will still agree that children should not pay the highest price for the world’s brokenness. Without a champion, they will and they do. That’s not OK. This truth has the power to unite us - across racial lines, political lines, denominational lines, and socioeconomic lines.
The good news is there are people in every community who care about children and families. Yet, too often, our efforts are reactive and fragmented, so the results are expensive and ineffective. We love and respect those who foster and adopt. Many of us at CarePortal are foster or adoptive parents. It’s a sacred call, but it’s not sufficient.
Historically, too few people are being asked to do too much, too late. We don’t just need more foster families. We also need systemic change, with MANY people doing something much earlier in the process; keeping families together and closing the front door to flagging institutional systems.
Launched in 2015, today CarePortal’s service is active in 30 states and three Canadian provinces, connecting close to 600 local agencies with 3,800 churches serving 120 children a day. By year end, God willing, these local churches – which represent less than 2% of Christian churches in our country – will have provided care for more than 150,000 children, delivering more than $50 million of local economic value. According to social workers walking with these families, meeting a CarePortal need has either helped keep 25,000 children out of foster care or it’s able to get them out of foster care.
The best news? This is just beginning. When 10% of the 330,000 Christian churches invest in the lives of local children, the foster care crisis in our country will reverse. Most importantly, children will win. Families will win. The Kingdom of God will advance. This is digital ministry in our online era.
Every child deserves a chance to be a kid. Every teenager deserves a shot to succeed as a young adult. We can do better. Just as AirBnB changed the way we vacation and Uber changed the way we call for a cab, CarePortal has the potential to change the way we care for those who are falling through the cracks right in our own communities, around the country, and around the world.
Everyone can do something. There is joy and purpose here. The question is: are you willing to receive an e-mail about a local child or family in crisis? Enroll your church. Become a community responder. Take action.