The Cost of Poverty Experience (offered both in-person and virtually) provides an opportunity to learn and engage with other people committed to serving children and families in your community. These experiences were developed by one of our partner organizations, Think Tank, Inc., who co-designed COPE with individuals and families living in low-income communities who bravely shared their stories. Their experiences give participants a glimpse into what it is like to live below the poverty line and shatter stereotypes often perpetuated by mass media. The simulation also captures the role that the broader community often plays in their interactions with low-income families.
For many communities, COPE serves as a powerful springboard to launch CarePortal and mobilize local churches and individuals to more effectively serve. CarePortal’s team can help facilitate COPE for your community or work with you to identify and train a facilitator to offer this transformative experience.
Included in This Article
- What Does a COPE Do for Participants?
- In-Person COPE
- Virtual COPE (VCOPE)
- VCOPE Area Rotation & Registration
- Connecting Beyond VCOPE
- The Relationship Between COPE & Foster Care
- The Relationship Between COPE & CarePortal
What Does a COPE Do for Participants?
There are many benefits of participating in a Cost of Poverty Experience, either in-person or virtually! Here are just a few:
- Increased understanding of the complexities, decisions and expectations of children, single adults, parents, and the elderly living in poverty
- Gained insight into the primary driver of the Foster Care system (unintentional neglect due to poverty) and the ability to see how families are impacted and learn from their lived experience
- Challenge assumptions, preconceived notions, and judgements
- Increased understanding of how to meaningfully connect with families in poverty in a way that can lead to life transformation
To schedule an in-person COPE, contact your local CarePortal network leader.
This 3-hour experiential event accommodates up to 120 participants and 20+ volunteers.
Offered on the first Tuesday of each month from 12:00-1:30pm CST, this virtual experience integrates online interaction, data, and debriefing conversation.
The simulation will be facilitated by Think Tank, Inc. and their team on a Zoom video call. Participants will be engaged to work together with their assigned family “team” and try to complete their tasks for one simulated week. Participants have the opportunity to better-understand the decisions people living below the poverty line are forced to make, and the struggles that dominate each day of their lives. Just like the in-person COPE, the live debrief is designed to help turn insights into action.
VCOPE Area Rotation & Registration
Each month, CarePortal sponsors a VCOPE that is offered for free to different areas with active CarePortal networks. These events can be used by CarePortal's various local network leaders and church leaders to drive momentum around active community meetings and to have a more local feel and focus. This also creates natural opportunities for local network leaders and church leaders to follow-up with participants and consider next steps together.
Note: While each VCOPE will have a regional focus, anyone from anywhere is still welcome to attend each month.
Regional Rotation for 2023:
|February 7||Oklahoma + Florida|
|March 7||New York + Colorado|
|May 2||Texas + Virginia|
|July 11||Kansas + Missouri|
|September 12||California + Arizona|
|October 3||Ohio + Indiana + Michigan + Pennsylvania + Tennessee + Kentucky|
|November 7||Georgia + Maryland + North Carolina + Deleware + Louisiana + Alabama|
Set time zone & click on the first Tuesday of your region's identified month (in bold) to complete the registration
Connecting Beyond VCOPE
Our Regional Managers are very involved in partnering with church and community leaders and we want to provide this as a resource to building those relationships.
As a parallel illustration of how the church connects with families, our team is also able to connect with the church.
Follow up and processing after VCOPE is another way to remain present, to offer yourself as a continued resource, and to walk alongside someone in their journey. It shows them what it looks like! The following steps are suggested to maximize your connection as well as the VCOPE experience:
- Invite Church, Agency, School, and other Community Leaders to register for VCOPE during your region's identified month.
- Follow up with your VCOPE facilitator so that you are aware if your referrals are attending the upcoming session.
- Register yourself and plan to attend if you have attendees from your area.
- Follow Up after the completion of VCOPE to hear about their experience. *Schedule a Zoom follow up or Active Community Meeting to Discuss and Process the attached questions with others in your area.
- Offer a live COPE experience.
VCOPE Follow-Up Discussion Questions
The Relationship Between COPE & Foster Care
Foster Care is reflective of much more than the issue of child safety; we recognize the heightened existence of poverty and other social constraints such as race, family stress, and systematic oppression. The awareness of how poverty impacts those at the brink of foster care is essential to the interactions and relationships we aim to strengthen. The Cost of Poverty Experience reveals poverty through a human lens and encourages participants to consider their own triggers, biases, and how their own life experiences color how they see the children and families being served.
The Relationship Between COPE & CarePortal
CarePortal is a connecting platform that seeks to go beyond meeting tangible needs. Churches are positioned to show the love of Christ by walking alongside our neighbors.
|Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
-Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10
Isolation is prevalent among those served through CarePortal. We often see parents and grandparents taking on the struggles alone as they are hesitant to reach out for many reasons. COPE provides some insight into the hesitation and the fear of what might happen if they become exposed. Understanding the constraints helps us to also understand the lack of trust, the fear of judgment, and the resistance to “others”. While most people desire to provide help that is affirming and validating, missteps can occur when we respond to the posture and not the person. In our effort to serve with excellence, it is important to help and not to harm those whom we are serving. We want churches to be equipped with information and insight so that the church's approach to building the relationship is intentional.
Understanding the circumstances and perspectives of families in poverty is a fundamental step in equipping church teams to establish meaningful connections. Gaining insight into the perspective of the families helps to provide an understanding of how children and families typically show up and as a result, informs the intentionality about the church's role and how they show up in response. In preparation for serving, we invite you to have further discussions following COPE. This is an effort to shift from empathy and understanding to forming plans and practical application of how to better serve children and families.