In this blog post, we highlight Mizzou’s efforts to help keep children out of the foster care system by supporting families in crisis through their partnership with CarePortal.
Every day, there are nearly a half million children in the U.S. foster care system. Every year, more children are put into the system than leave it. The most effective way to avoid an ever-expanding child welfare system is to provide direct support to families in crisis – families trying to avoid having children put into the system, or families trying to be reunited with children once they’ve been put in care. With the help of generous donors, the University of Missouri Football program has created a fund that allows its players to become directly involved in supporting families and children in crisis. This program is called “Mizzou Impact.”
How Does It Work?
As a CarePortal Community Champion, Mizzou Impact receives information from CarePortal about emergency needs of local families in the Kansas City region. Each week, players huddle & make decisions on where and how to allocate their funds to make the greatest impact.
Once those decisions have been made, CarePortal transfers the Mizzou funds to New Life CityChurch, whose Neighbors Who Care team “on-the-ground” will use the funds to provide wrap-around support to the families. We want to share some stories from the field about the impact the Mizzou football team is making on the lives of local children and families in crisis.
Foster Family Assistance
“A” is a single foster mother in KC who needed to purchase clothes and other necessities for the 15- and 11-year-old boys in her care. The boys were among the nearly 14,000 children in foster care in the State of Missouri last year. Like many children in care, one of the boys has complex emotional issues that require “A” to arrange for him to attend court-mandated anger-management classes. These classes are expensive, and financial support from the Dept. of Social Services is often limited. “A” was struggling to provide for the boys’ basic needs and her request for gift cards and cash support was posted to CarePortal. The Mizzou football team stepped up and donated a $100 gift card for each boy, and NWC gladly assisted with purchasing and delivering winter clothes for the boys.
Family Reunification Support
With funds provided from Mizzou, Neighbors Who Care has recently supported two families going through an intense period of vulnerability – one family trying to be reunited with children who had been placed in care, and the other trying to adjust after their children had been returned to their home. The term used by DSS for this process is family reunification. Family reunification requires the development of a written reunification plan which sets out specific goals that must be achieved by the family before reunification can be formally recommended.
The Story of Family “C”: Helping A Family After COVID-Related Job Losses
When we met Family “C”, they were in the process of trying to have their children returned to their home after a tough year apart. COVID-19 had taken a toll on the family’s efforts to achieve their goals. Mom had contracted COVID and lost her job as she fought to recover.
Despite her best efforts, she couldn’t find employment. Ineligible for unemployment benefits, and struggling with her own mental health diagnoses, the family became overwhelmed with bills.
When NWC met the family, their gas had been cut off for failure to pay a $900 gas bill. Mom had made some progress on paying the bill down, but the gas remained cut off and the family was struggling to even have enough food. NWC was able to come alongside and find the funds to cover the remainder of the bill, allowing the family to have their gas restored – critical to their reunification plan – and begin moving forward again.
This family has shown tremendous resiliency and positive changes since the beginning of the case, and NWC continues to check in on them periodically as they continue to move toward reunification.
Helping a Family Adjust After Reunification
The first several months after family reunification can sometimes be challenging. Recently, Mizzou Impact and NWC were able to provide important financial and relational support to one such family in the KC area.
“S” is a single mother whose 3 children had been placed in foster care for several months. “S” had worked hard to be reunited with her children, including enrolling herself in trade school to become a dog groomer while maintaining her part-time job. She had also saved up her money to purchase a used vehicle so that she would be able to take care of her children and get them to school and practices. The vehicle would also be critical in allowing “S” to get her children to their therapy appointments, as required by the family’s reunification plan.
“S” had saved up enough to purchase the vehicle, but she was struggling to make her limited funds stretch far enough to cover the $360 car payment as well as the vehicle registration and taxes. With funds generously provided by Mizzou, NWC took care of the car expenses and took the whole family out for a meal. S and her daughters were all very grateful and our chaplains will follow up to provide continuing support to the family.
How You Can Help
- SUPPORT a family in needor help us grow by making a financial gift at tinyurl.com/nwcdonate
- JOIN our team to stay updated about families in crisis that you can help: tinyurl.com/nwcvolunteer
- PRAY for our engagement with families and email. Sign up for our prayer list at firstname.lastname@example.org
- FOR MORE STORIES, visit tinyurl.com/nwcstories
Neighbors Who Care (NWC) is New Life CityChurch’s “outside the walls” ministry. Our mission is to see the blighted urban communities of Kansas City transformed into communities where families will flourish, schools will achieve, people will be safe, churches will honor God and fathers will stand tall as men of integrity. NWC works toward this goal through partnerships with CarePortal, local organizations, and community members with a common goal.