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Care Portal piloted in Stephens County

DUNCAN, Okla._ Stephens County Department of Human Services is piloting a program designed to bring churches and the community together to help families in need.

It's called Care Portal. The program started last week and is aimed to meet the needs of families by making churches aware of what those within their community are lacking.

Care Portal has already been successful in Texas, Kansas and Missouri. Stephens County DHS is hopeful it will leave a similar impact in Oklahoma.

Stephens County DHS officials say the state of Oklahoma ranks the second highest in the nation with children in our states foster care system. Now, Stephens County is hoping Care Portal lowers those statistics.

Because of that, Program Child Welfare Director Cecil Boydston says Stephens County is the first in the state testing out Care Portal.

"To get to so many people, that have so many different resources, especially in Stephens County, I know it will be a success,” said Boydston.

How it works, welfare workers go into the home and see what needs the family may have, from car seats, clothing or even home repairs. Those are then put into an online database.

"It gets emailed out to the point people of each church, that point person sends it to the people of their church, so it can get to hundreds of people fairly quickly,” said Boydston.

Then the church can choose from those needs what they can supply.  Boydston says in the last week since care portal started, he has already seen it paying off.

"We saw where two siblings in our custody, needing a home, we had a foster home but they needed a bunk bed. We put that request out, and in a day or two we had that need met," said Boydston.

 With the giving nature of the churches in Stephens County, Travis Hartfield who is the Coordinator of Faith Engagement with DHS says he expects similar outcomes to continue.

"Duncan is so special. There is so much going on around with the churches here and what they are already doing in their congregations. It is fertile ground where great things are happening. With the right people in the right places, I don't see anything but success happening,” said Hartfield.

On an even larger scale, Resource Family Supervisor Jennifer McKeown says Care Portal will also help children find what many of them need most, a family.

"I think it's getting the awareness out there that there are so many children in foster care and where better than the church to tap into a resource of families that have a heart for children, who are called, the bible calls Christians to take care of children, it isn't the government’s job to take care of children," said McKeown.

So far ten churches in Stephens County are signed for Care Portal. For more information on how you can get involved, visit care portal.org or call the Stephens County Department of Human Services at 580-251-8300.

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