Foster children do not always enjoy the same opportunities as other children. Childhood events that many of us took for granted as kids – such as summer camp, piano lessons, or math tutoring – are not a normal part of childhood for many children living in foster care.
CASA strives to offer enrichment and educational opportunities through its Milton Foster Children’s Fund which provides funding for activities, the Kids’ Closet for clothing and toys, and The Hanger as a “free” store for teens living in out-of-home placement.
Sometimes however there is a gap in these resources. Last year, this gap led CASA Dependency & Neglect Case Supervisor Kristina Wrobleski to come up with the idea of adding CarePortal to the list of strategies used to meet the needs of CASA children.
“I love how partnering with CarePortal allows the needs of children and their families to show up right in someone’s email inbox,” Wrobleski said. “It’s a seamless way for our caring community to use an online system to meet the needs of children.”
CarePortal is a technology platform that connects the needs of vulnerable families with local churches, businesses, or individuals who have the capacity to give. Over the past year, the platform has resulted in 51 CarePortal requests valued at over $12,600 being answered for CASA kids in the Pikes Peak Region.
CASA volunteers can submit a CarePortal request for the children on their cases and these requests are often made in conjunction with requests to Milton Foster Children’s Fund or The Hanger. For example, if a child needs a camera for photography class that costs $380, the CASA advocate can request up to $250 in funding from Milton Foster Children’s Fund and then request the remaining balance of $130 from community members on CarePortal.
“I am in awe of how generous individuals really are. I truly believe there are so many amazing people in El Paso County who want to support struggling children and families and just need to be made aware of the needs around them,” Wrobleski continued.
One CarePortal request was for a $1,000 plane ticket to Alaska which was immediately met by a local church. This generosity enabled a youth to reconnect with extended family after a failed adoption had left him feeling alone and unattached.
“Another youth really wanted to learn to the play the accordion and the CASA advocate put in a request for a new or gently used accordion,” recalls Wrobleski. “I assumed the request would not be met as it was a little out of the ordinary but someone responded right away that they had an accordion they were wanting to part with. You should have seen the boy’s face as he played the accordion. It was priceless.”
CASA has only partnered with CarePortal for the last year and the response has been overwhelming with donations including everything from new computers to art supplies, from bicycles to car seats, and from bedding to gift cards.