The Henry-Martinsville Department of Social Services harnesses the power of the faith-based community through a web-based platform called CarePortal. A typical request made through the CarePortal may look like this:
“A grandmother has assumed custody of her 5 (five) grandchildren to keep them out of foster care. The children’s ages are 11, 10, 8, 2, and 9 months. A need has arisen for a bed for the three oldest children. The grandmother has requested a queen bed.”
CarePortal helps the Henry-Martinsville Department of Social Services (DSS) preserve families and keep children safe in their homes, which is the ultimate goal, according to April Evans, assistant director of services. Henry-Martinsville DSS workers identify the needs of families and put those entries into CarePortal, a national web-based platform that connects people in need with groups and organizations that can help.
Through its PUP Small Grants Program, The Harvest Foundation recently invested $9,480 to continue CarePortal’s operation in Martinsville-Henry County.
“We are excited to partner with the Henry-Martinsville Department of Social Services on the CarePortal platform to further enhance the local human services system to support families,” said Sheryl Agee, senior operating officer at The Harvest Foundation. “Harvest’s vision is a MHC where everyone has an opportunity to thrive but often a single challenge can push an under-resourced family over the edge, with little to no options to get their life back on track. CarePortal provides a means to connect those with a need to those who can and want to help, often providing a much-needed social support system for the family.”
Local churches play a significant role in CarePortal’s success in Martinsville-Henry County. Linda Adams, a member of First United Methodist Church in Martinsville, is the lead volunteer for several ministries at her church, including CarePortal. She said they do it all for the children.
“We don’t want children to go hungry, and we want children to have a safe place to sleep that’s not on the floor,” Adams said. “We help children to keep them out of foster homes and with their families, if at all possible. We praise God that we’re able to help the children.”
Henry-Martinsville DSS launched CarePortal in 2022, serving 58 children with an economic impact of $25,404 since that time. There are seven churches currently participating in the program. Adams said her church has filled around 18 requests, mostly providing twin beds and other furniture, in addition to dishes, silverware, towels, sheets, and various household items.
“As a tool, CarePortal provides a direct link between families in crisis and the faith-based community,” said Amy Rice, director of the Henry-Martinsville DSS. “In one year, local churches provided $40,000 in tangible, basic items such as beds or highchairs to promote child safety and well-being. For families who are often at their most vulnerable, the support from the faith-based community nurtures feelings of social well-being rather than isolation. That intangible gift of human connection provides an immeasurable benefit to our community. We are honored to receive the PUP grant to continue the CarePortal success in Henry County and Martinsville City.”
There is no cost to sign up as a provider to serve Martinsville-Henry County families through CarePortal. Call (276) 656-4300 to learn more.