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Wed, Aug. 21

Program connects churches, families in need

Department of Child Safety community liaison Rayetta Sanchez expresses her gratitude to Yavapai County churches for joining CarePortal. (George Johnston/Courier)

Department of Child Safety community liaison Rayetta Sanchez expresses her gratitude to Yavapai County churches for joining CarePortal. (George Johnston/Courier)

Families in need could soon get relief.

Churches in Yavapai County have partnered with AZ 1.27, a Christian organization based in Arizona, and the Department of Child Safety for the CarePortal program.

The program allows churches to make contact with families in need and help them. When a caseworker submits a request from a family for items like baby food, clothes or car seats through CarePortal, the website alerts local churches in the corresponding local ZIP code about the request. Churches will then find parishioners who are willing to assist the family.

“We are excited to expand this successful program to Yavapai County,” said Maria Cristina Fuentes, director of the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family, said. “This innovative program pairs together the public sector and the faith-based community to help families in need.”

Canyon Bible Church is among the five churches in Yavapai County joining CarePortal.

William Peterson, associate pastor of Canyon Bible Church, already was aware of CarePortal because of his parish’s partnership with AZ 1.27.

“I’m really excited to hear CarePortal was coming to northern Arizona because it meets those tangible needs right here in our community,” Peterson said.

Because AZ 1.27 is a distinctly Christian-only group, Peterson said, only Christian churches are taking part in CarePortal, but he does not discourage other religious institutions helping those in need.

“I hope to transform families, because if we can transform families, then we can transform communities,” Peterson said.

In Yavapai County, 272 are children out of home according to Scott Chasan, Department of Child Safety Program Administer for northern Arizona. There were 92 children forced to move out of Yavapai County, and in addition to that 102 are in unlicensed homes, which means a family member or neighbor may have taken the child in, Chasan said. He added DCS is really looking outside of the box in what is considered family because the department knows children thrive with people they know.

“Often time we don’t have the capacity to help those families,” Chasan said. “We are limited in our resources, and that’s where the church gets to step up.”

Pastor Ron Merrell of Heights Church acknowledges there is a back-up crisis when it comes to helping those in need and there is not enough help, so churches need to step up.

“We really can make a difference when tens of thousands of people get sent into the field where there is much need,” Merrell said.

Since the initial launch of the program, CarePortal has recruited 120 churches, which have helped more than 4,000 Arizona children according to DCS.

“When your church joins up in the work it helps DCS achieve its vision of children thriving in family environments that are free from neglect and abuse,” said Rayetta Sanchez, DCS community liaison.

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