Florida's Circuit 12 Recognized with National Award by CarePortal

The Giving Coast

Pictured: L-R -Kathy Cornwell (church responder), Michelle Allen (church responder and Bridge A Life board member), Courtney Ross, (CarePortal), Denise Grimes and SCC team members Sierra Ebersole and Sarah Hawk. Photo provided by Bridge A Life.

Florida's Circuit 12 (Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties) was recently recognized with the “2023 Community of the Year Award” for its successful implementation of the CarePortal platform–an online tool that connects churches with the needs of vulnerable children and families through local child welfare agencies. In Circuit 12, one of those agencies is the lead community based care organization, Safe Children Coalition (SCC) whose case managers help with careful vetting and online entry of needs.

Local nonprofit Bridge a Life uses the CarePortal platform to connect caring church members with urgent social service needs in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties. Denise Grimes, the CarePortal Regional Manager for Bridge a Life shares that typical requests addressed through CarePortal are for beds, furniture, formula, diapers, clothes and food. Through the CarePortal technology, agency workers find a family in need and put in a request for help from churches that are within a certain proximity to that family. “Our churches will get the request and try to meet the needs of that family by helping them build community and by serving them in many different ways–ways that are unique to every family,” explains Grimes. According to the CarePortal website, more than half of the requests entered into CarePortal receive a response in fewer than 48 hours.

Just before the holidays last year, a request came in from a family in need. “It was a simple request,” recalls Grimes. “At first they just needed a couple beds. Once the church was able to go into the home, they realized the family needed a lot more than just beds so they decided to really wrap around this family and provide Christmas presents. They then helped them prepare for the holidays with meals and other things that they needed. After the holidays, they've continued to meet with the family, helping them with bunk beds for the many children in the home. A few months later, they came back to paint the entire home and help the family truly have a fresh new start.”

The pilot program began in our region thanks to a former SCC vice president, Kathleen Cowan, who started the conversation about bringing CarePortal to our community. In July of 2021, CarePortal was activated within SCC’s Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT) – this team provides and coordinates services for families who are at high risk for entering the child welfare system. The goal of the ERAT team is to ensure children's safety and well-being within the home, to help avoid the unnecessary removal of children. The goal of all the partners involved is to keep kids in their homes; by filling urgent needs, CarePortal helps to do just that.

To learn about ways to help families in need, Grimes suggests visiting the Bridge A Life and/or CarePortal websites. For more about SCC, visit sccfl.org.

Pictured: L-R -Kathy Cornwell (church responder), Michelle Allen (church responder and Bridge A Life board member), Courtney Ross, (CarePortal), Denise Grimes and SCC team members Sierra Ebersole and Sarah Hawk. Photo provided by Bridge A Life.

To learn more about Bridge A Life, visit.

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