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Care Portal: Online platform helps families, keeps kids out of foster care

Posted at 4:59 PM, Nov 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-13 20:15:58-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Keeping children out of foster care is important, especially since Nueces County currently has 400 foster children.
Care Portal is an online tool that is helping families stay together. It connects child advocacy groups to churches to fulfill the needs of vulnerable children.
If there is a child in need a case worker will put in a request using Care Portal.
Churches will then check to see what that child needs and respond using the online platform.
An example:
"If a child needs a crib and that is what is going to reunify possibly the foster child to their biological parents," Agape Ranch Executive Director Susan Klaus said.
Klaus said Care Portal plays a big role in preventing kids from getting into the foster care system.
She said since the program was introduced in 2016 in our area, they have helped more than a thousand children.
"So that's potentially 1,000 children that could have gone into foster care, that are not in foster care, because of the needs that we were able to meet," she said.
Care Portal is available in Nueces, Aransas and San Patricio Counties.
"We would love Care Portal to be a part of every church in the Coastal Bend," Klaus said.
Right now there are 22 churches involved in Nueces County, eight churches in Aransas County and six churches in San Patricio.
Care Portal is vetted by CPS workers, counselors and the children's coalition -- it's not a wish list but a real need.
"We look often at mission trips across seas, serving other countries and sometimes we forget that there are needs in our own backyard," Heather Tijerina, GracePoint Church Care Portal response team member said.
In addition to assisting with material things like strollers and car seats, churches also offer emotional support.
GracePoint Church joined Care Portal last month.
"We very excited that we just had our first response that we fulfilled," Tijerina said. "We gave a stroller to a single mom with young children."
People who are partnered with a church can contribute to the Care Portal.
"A simple thing like a stroller opens a lot of possibilities," Tijerina said. "Suddenly you can feel more in control. You can feel confident to be able to handle the day to keep your kid safe and be able to sustain that life for your family. That's life changing."
Churches in town that are interested in getting involved with Care Portal can CLICK HERE for more information.