Important answers to Frequently Asked Questions. Some include who we serve, how we serve and how to enroll.
Prospective Churches, CarePortal Church Leaders
Q: How can my church respond to requests while respecting social distancing and shelter-in-place guidance?
A: Ministry work will look different during this time in order to respect federal, state, and local requirements. Each of the three disaster relief request categories (listed below) was identified in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a way to help without violating public health requirements and best practices.
- Support an Emergency Worker
It begins with a phone call to assess how your church can wrap around an Emergency Worker and his/her family. There will be many ways to do so without violating public health best practices.
- Alleviate Food/Essentials Insecurity
Grocery stores and food delivery services are considered essential businesses during shelter-in-place restrictions. These restrictions also give room for others to help each other with these needs. Phone and text conversations can be used to arrange deliveries that respect the six-foot social distancing recommendations.
- Stabilize Housing Insecurity
Even in cases where no late penalties are given for tenants who can’t pay their rent or utility bills, families who are not able to work will still fall too far behind to catch up without help. These connections with families can be made over the phone and payments can be made directly to the landlord or utility company on behalf of the family.
Q: Can we give or send cash to the family in need?
A: We do not recommend giving cash to families, or even to the caseworker to use for the family. The first step should be to make contact directly with the family to understand exactly what is needed and to lay the foundation for a collaborative relationship. Emergency payments can be made directly to the landlord or utility providers on behalf of the family. For goods and essentials, we recommend directly purchasing the needed items yourself and arranging for delivery.
Q: Are there risks in meeting needs?
A: CarePortal’s disaster relief categories for requests were chosen as the highest possible impact that can be made with the lowest possible risk. These requests are designed to help establish a relationship that can benefit everyone involved and last long after the COVID-19 crisis has passed. With that said, it’s important to acknowledge the following statements.
- Is it possible that a volunteer could get infected with COVID-19 in the process? Yes.
- Is it possible that someone could accuse your church of wrongdoing in some possible way in the process of serving others? Yes.
- Is there a way to completely take all of the risk out of serving others? No.
Jesus served hurting people with faithful, selfless, unconditional love, in action, and paid a very high price for His love. There is no way to completely de-risk serving our neighbors. We should Care with Care, knowing and following best practices and legal requirements, for our own personal health and the health of others, but we should also serve from a position of faith, not fear.
Additional Resource: Serving Through COVID-19 (video)
Q: How are requests chosen and vetted by the requesting agencies?
A: Requests are entered by caseworkers of public or private agencies who directly serve people and families in crisis and have been trained to identify ways local churches can help. Each request is made with the agreement of the family in need and is approved by an acting supervisor before any churches are notified.
Additional Resource: Disaster Relief 101: Churches (video)
Q: What if there are no agencies making requests in my area?
A: In areas where churches have only recently begun to get activated on CarePortal, it’s likely some of the common requesting agencies have not been approached yet. Where church interest is growing, however, our team is ready to collaboratively begin those conversations. This can take some time depending on the procedures and protocols each agency uses, but there is a long list of current agency partners that will likely make this process go smoother and faster. In the meantime, all churches are able to use the CarePortal platform to enter their own needs for their Response Team to get involved with. These internal requests may be discovered within your own congregation or through strong partnerships your ministries already have in your community.
Additional Resource: Church-Entered Needs: Getting Started with Step-by-Step Instructions
Q: Does CarePortal offer any guidance or training on how to make meaningful connections with families in crisis?
A: While genuine relationships must be the result of an open heart posture on both sides, there are several best practices and reminders we offer church leaders during their CarePortal orientation. When it comes to engaging individuals or families who are in a crisis, it’s important to remember these principles:
- Avoid looking down on others and pitying them
- Always protect the honor and dignity of others
- Look for the lessons you can learn from the character and journey of others
- For those who have lived in a chronic state of crisis, remember:
– Crises are not new
– They are often accustomed to navigating broken systems
– They are often very good at relying on and supporting their family, friends, and neighbors
– They are often accustomed to making very difficult choices
Q: What if we discover a desperate need of a family that can’t be provided while respecting social distancing safety measures? (For example: childcare)
A: This is likely to occur when your church is seeking to go above and beyond to help a family. In these cases, there is no prescription but we generally encourage you and your church to be creative, protect your relationship with the family, and aggressively seek the safest and wisest solutions as an advocate for the family in the name of Jesus.
Q: What happens once my area no longer needs disaster relief?
A: We will determine in a local context (county by county) when to disable the disaster relief functionality and communicate that to you accordingly.
Q: Is CarePortal specifically for Christian churches?
A: CarePortal is a local church empowerment platform: it exists to mobilize Bible-believing Christian churches to care for vulnerable children and families in their own communities, stimulating life-changing relational connections in the process. The example and teachings of Jesus fuel everything we do. At the same time, CarePortal brings together diverse constituents – government agencies, businesses, schools, and other faith-based ministries – to accomplish a common mission of caring for children together. There are many ways to get involved and there is a place at the table for everyone.
Q: How do I know when my County is active to submit requests?
A: You will begin receiving CarePortal request emails directly in your email inbox when a local agency begins submitting requests.
Q: How is CarePortal financially supported?
A: CarePortal is primarily supported through local Implementing Partners, local Agency Partners, and through grant applications.
Q: Are donations made to meet CarePortal requests tax deductible?
A: Both financial and physical donations of goods and services may be tax-deductible through your local church. Because CarePortal does not take the money or goods directly, we do not issue a tax deduction letter.