CarePortal is a nationwide online platform that helps connect children in need with people and resources to help them meet those needs.

Those attending Dr. William Polite’s bimonthly meeting of Engaging Congregations on Nov. 6 learned about the platform and how to use it. CarePortal is not part of Polite’s initiative, but he said he invited them to make a presentation because he thought their platform might be helpful to churches who are part of his initiative.

Here’s how it works:.

– A parent, teacher, pastor or church member identifies a child with a need, whether it be a winter coat, a bed, shoes, school supplies or whatever

– That person submits the need on the portal

– Other people with access to the portal share the need with their connections

– Someone with the needed resources steps up and the needed items are delivered to the child in need.

The portal, which opened in 2015, has so far served 227,676 children in the U.S. and delivered $81,828,013 in economic impact. 

There are currently 5,255 church response teams across the country. Sixteen of those response teams are in Sedgwick County and have served 3,384 children and generated $918,944 in economic impact.

Polite said one goal of CarePortal is to prevent the removal of children from their biological family because poverty prevents them from meeting the needs of their children.

“Unintentional neglect because of poverty is not child abuse,” he said. “The reality is that 78% of the students in Wichita public schools live in poverty.”

The toll of poverty on families and the toll of foster care on children is heartbreaking and alarming, a CarePortal spokeswoman told the audience at the Engaging Congregations event. 

“Statistics show that 50% of the children in foster care come from 5% of the counties in the U.S.” she said. “Sedgwick County is in that 5%.”

Polite says churches are in a unique position to help. 

“Pastors are trusted by the families of their congregation and are likely to be in a position to observe what is needed,” he said. “CarePortal allows them to advocate to a larger audience to get those needs met.”

There are 1,471 children attending school in USD 259 who are deemed homeless, he added.

Last year, there were 1,189 investigations by the Dept. of Children and Families and 39 children were removed from their homes. 

There are now 1,272 children in 614 foster homes in the county. 

The future of those children can be deeply impacted. 

Estimates are that 50% of the homeless, 60% of those involved in sex trafficking and 75% of those in jail have one thing in common: they all spent some time in foster care.

P.J. Griekspoor is a semi-retired veteran journalist with 55 years experience in writing and editing in Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina and Wichita.  She spent 18 years at the Wichita Eagle...

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