This article provides additional tools and training to Agency Supervisors, Reps, and Admins regarding what to look for as they consider approving a new CarePortal request. By making use of these best practices and recommendations, the requests opened by the agency will receive a higher response rate from church and community members.
Agency Supervisors, Agency Reps, Agency Admins; Regional Managers, Area Directors
Included in This Article
- Prerequisite: Agency Training Video
- Submitting Requests on Behalf of Other Workers
- Reviewing & Approving Requests: Things to Watch For
- Examples of Well-Written Request Stories
- Examples of Poorly Written Request Stories
- Troubleshooting Common Problems & Errors
- Additional Resources
- Request Escalation Time Frames
- Utilizing the CarePortal Map
- Agency Worker Resource: 5 Tips for Entering Quality Requests
Prerequisite: Agency Training Video
Submitting Requests on Behalf of Other Workers
As a specially-trained leader, Agency Reps are able to submit requests on behalf of other workers in their agency by submitting the request through their CarePortal Dashboard. The first page of the form will ask for the email address of the caseworker who is charge of the request, which can be but does not have to be the Agency Rep.
Since the Agency Rep is the one who is filling out the request form, additional approval is not needed and the request will be immediately open for responses. These responses will be sent to the Agency Worker indicated at the beginning of the form and each of the Agency Reps assigned to the county where the family is located.
Reviewing & Approving Requests: Things to Watch For
|Important Tip: Try spreading out your approvals instead of doing them all at once. Each time you approve a request, the CarePortal platform immediately sends an email blast out to individual church leaders around the family in need. Approving many requests together will rapid-fire these emails and may decrease the chances of local leaders opening each request.|
As you review requests, here are the top 5 things to watch for:
- No Names or Contact Information in the Story
Requests that include contact or otherwise identifiable information of the family in need should be immediately edited to remove that information, or declined. Open requests that are found with this information by a field team member will be immediately closed to protect the family and children, since request stories are publicly visible.
- Realistic Estimated Values
Entering an estimated value that is obviously under the realistic cost of a value or service will cause confusion from responders and potentially prevent the appropriate amount of funding to be provided (from specific users who are looking to "Fund" requests). Responders are able to contribute to less than what the estimated value is set to, so there should be no concern about making sure this number reflects the accurate value or cost of what's needed.
- Manageable List of Needs
The needs added to a request should be those that would have the highest impact for the family. In many cases, responding churches may seek out other, smaller needs they learn about for the family but these do not need to be added to the request in order to avoid a long laundry list of smaller items.
- No Insider Language
Church and community responders likely will not understand even the most commonly used agency acronyms and programs. Likewise, it may help to briefly explain why your agency emphasizes certain needs over others so responders will understand how that need impacts the family's overall case with your agency.
- Description that Appropriately Advocates for the Family
Request stories should seek to highlight the strength and perseverance of what a family or child has overcome and how the requested items will directly support them. When stories include these details, the chances of that request getting a response dramatically increases.
Examples of Well-Written Request Stories
- A long-time foster parent is in need of a set of bunk beds because the set she has used for many years became a safety concern for the foster children placed in the home. She does not have the funds currently to purchase a new set and the children are sleeping on mattresses on the floor which does not meet state licensing standards. The bedroom in the home is small and bunk beds are needed to accommodate more children (rather than single beds). The foster parent has mattresses for the beds.
Notes: Descriptive, thorough and helps potential responders understand exactly what's needed and why. Could do a bit more to explain what is specifically causing the strain on funds for this foster parent.
- The father worked hard to get his children back home. The transmission went out on his car and has been struggling to get back and forth to work. He has been paying people to take him back and forth to work. This will begin to be a burden as that money should be going to the care of his children. If he could get some assistance he would be truly grateful.
Notes: Advocates for the father and explains the need in a very relatable way.
- I am currently working with a single mother with three small children who are currently residing in our transitional housing. The mom had just started a new job in January of 2020 that she absolutely loved. Unfortunately, COVID caused her to become unemployed and due to COVID that company was forced to close. The mom had just purchased a new car and majority of her unemployment went to living expenses, her car payment and insurance each month. During this time the mother was able to be successfully released from Children's Division and regained custody of her children. Recently the mother of three received her housing voucher to move into a new home for her and her children. Unfortunately past due utility bills are preventing her from making those next steps in her life. She is currently enrolled in a local community college for the first time ever and received all A's for her first semester despite having to care for her 3 small children who were often out of childcare due to it being shutdown due to COVID. The mother is in need of help with her past utility bills of $183.00 and $600. This would help to strengthen her family and help her with her new start for her children.
Notes: Clear, descriptive, and makes it clear how hard the mother is working to regain custody.
Examples of Poorly Written Request Stories
- Two girls with their maternal aunt. They need dressers to clean and organize their living space.
Notes: Not enough details about why the aunt is unable to provide the dressers. It would also help to know the ages of the girls and any kind of space limitations.
- The Department is currently working with a mother and her daughter, age 5 years and son, age 3 years, due to mental health. The family is in need of a dresser for the children to keep their clothes. The Social Worker is [name given] and she may be reached at [phone number] or [email address]. Thank you for your assistance.
Notes: Caseworkers should not provide any contact information in the request descriptions (publicly visible on the Internet). When a trained and approved church responder commits to all or part of the request, they will automatically receive the caseworker's information through the system.
- Mother needs help with trash cleanup at her house. Mother has lots of trash including a couch and other things that she needs help getting rid of for cleanliness.
Notes: Not enough details about what specifically is causing the concern. Responders are left to wonder about what kind of situation they would be stepping into.
Troubleshooting Common Problems & Errors
- The platform is preventing Workers and/or Reps from entering a new request
This is often due to one of two issues:
- The zip code for the family may not be in a county your agency is approved for
- Your agency has already hit the county's monthly request limit (if one has been established)
- An open request's public link shows a response from someone, but the worker wasn't notified
CarePortal will only alert the worker who entered a request about a response from a local church. If other responses are made by community responders, the platform will direct them to specially-trained local churches who could steward the resources available and serve the family. One of them will need to "Commit & Claim" the available resources from the community responder, which is a process that will notify the worker that a local church is ready to help.
- A request was entered and approved with confidential family or other personal information of the caseworker
In these cases, a Regional Manager may edit the request description to remove any sensitive information and then contact the relevant Agency Rep(s) to discuss the best way to prevent this from happening in the future.
Request Escalation Time FramesThe urgency level a request is entered and approved with determines when and how the CarePortal platform will automatically escalate the request to include an additional set of church response teams. This additional article will dive deeper into what these escalation time frames are.
Utilizing the CarePortal MapBefore entering or approving a request, Caseworkers, Supervisors and Agency Reps can use the CarePortal Map to do some very basic research into the area where their request has been identified for. This will give the agency a glimpse of how many churches are active around the family, how many requests are open for that area, as well as whether or not those requests have received responses or not. This can help to set expectations about a specific request, and provide helpful insights into how the new request can be differentiated from the other requests for that area.
In some cases, if it's clear that an area has many requests that have not received responses, it may be wise to wait to submit that request until more churches are activated or there are fewer open requests.
Agency Worker Resource: 5 Tips for Entering Quality RequestsUse this resource to reinforce this training for agency workers and give them a simple list of 5 tips that will help them enter requests that get responses.