PHOENIX, AZ — The State of Arizona and local churches are working together to help keep children out of foster care.
The program is run by CarePortal, an online platform that links "hurting children and families" to attention.
Caseworkers are assigned to work with families to determine their needs, then bring them to the attention of partner churches to give them a "real time" opportunity to respond.
The Living Word Bible Church is one of 125 churches in Arizona that participates in the program. Cliff Maes, the outreach director at the church, said for their members, it's just another chance to put their faith into action.
Maes said he typically receives emails from caseworkers who work with families in Mesa, where most of their members live.
When he sees a family in need, Maes alerts church members who signed up to get notifications that a family needs help.
Volunteers who sign up to deliver the items coordinate a time with the family to deliver what they need.
Mark Sigelnski a church volunteer is eager to pitch in and help others. "It feels good, it just feels really good," said Sigelnski.
Most of the time, Sigelnski says he doesn't know much about the families, just that they need help.
Maes says the response from the families is amazing. "The kids are ecstatic. Especially if they see a bed coming in. A lot of these kids are sleeping on the floor," said Maes.
The CarePortal program is led by the Arizona Council on Child Safety and Family Empowerment and chaired by Arizona's first lady Angela Ducey.
The families who are eligible to receive help from CarePortal are those with DCS caseworkers assigned help unlicensed foster families.
The CarePortal program helps families with everything from furniture, to clothing, vehicle repair, home repairs, help cleaning in a hoarding environment, and pest control.
Andrew Knight, with DCS, says it was always amazing to see how quickly communities came together to answer a call for help. "We want to keep kids in the home whenever possible," said Knight.
"We can solve the foster problem if we all come together as one," said Maes.
To get involved or find out more about the program visit the CarePortal website.