The child welfare system is complex and diverse, as are the ways that you can engage and serve within it. When a church first commits to responding to CarePortal requests from child welfare employees, we use a visual called The Grid to explain the spectrum of needs you and your church can help meet. (Watch this short video to learn more about The Grid.)
If you are about to meet your first need through CarePortal, the odds are very high that it falls into Tier 1: Provide resources to stabilize the environment of children and their caregivers.
The most commonly requested items are:
- Beds: Cribs, toddler beds and bunk beds
- Living room furniture
- Car seats
- Seasonal items/services
Why these items? What difference do they make in the lives of families? All the items help ensure safety, permanency and well-being for children and families involved with child welfare or prevent the need for child welfare involvement.
Here are a few examples of situations when these items help:
- Safety of a child
A single mother of a newborn is ready to leave the hospital and is planning to have the baby sleep with her in her bed because she doesn’t have money to buy a crib. Obtaining a crib for the baby would allow a safe sleep environment for the baby.
- Well-being of a child
During an investigation, a caseworker notices the children sleep on pallets on the floor and do not have dressers. Although this is not a safety issue, nor a reason to remove the children from the home, the worker wants to obtain beds, mattresses and dressers for the children to increase their well-being and strengthen the family’s care for their children.
- Permanency — Reunification of biological family
A child or sibling set has been placed in temporary care (foster care OR with extended family or close family friend, which is called a “kinship placement”) for a time, and the biological parents have completed all necessary goals in order to reunify with their children and have them move home, but the family does not have any living room furniture and does not have the funding to acquire any. Obtaining living room furniture can help ensure permanency and well-being for children and families.
- Permanency — Placement with a kinship caregiver
A child or sibling set has been removed from biological caregivers, and there is a kinship caregiver willing to care for the children. Even if the kinship family is not licensed, in order to be allowed to house the children, they must have car seats for young children to be transported safely. Not having the car seats prevents this kinship provider from being able to care for the child/children and cause the children to have to be placed in a licensed foster home where they have no connections or relational history.
- Permanency — Foster licensing of kinship caregiver
A child or sibling set has been placed with a kinship caregiver as determined to be in his/their best interest. In order to receive any state funding or support to care for the children, the relative or kin needs to become officially licensed as a foster home. Receiving seasonal items/services such as air conditioner repair can ensure the requirement of a comfortable living environment is met and help caregivers obtain their license.
Fulfilling common item requests like the top 5 listed above is a simple way to truly empower the families we hope to serve and help them reach their goals!