CarePortal knows a bed can make all the difference for a child

— Photo from Sandra Flach 

These local children were in foster care at one time, but have now been adopted into families, says Sandra Flach, co-founder of Justice for Orphans, a faith-based not-for-profit organization that provides support to children and families in need. 

ALBANY COUNTY — The faith-based organization Justice for Orphans partnered almost a year ago with Schenectady County to bring CarePortal to the area, and next week Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy will announce the expansion of the program here.

Justice for Orphans has a goal, said co-founder Sandra Flach, of launching at least one Capital Region county every year. 

CarePortal is an online platform that links child-welfare agencies to local churches. Social workers can request items that would help keep families together or otherwise stabilize the lives of children in need. These requests then go out in an email blast to all of the churches in the county that are enrolled with the program, and the churches can decide if they would like to respond and provide the items needed.

Flach told The Enterprise that, for instance, a bed can sometimes make all the difference. She recalled one grandmother who wanted to take in her grandchild who needed a home, but she didn’t have an extra bed. 

“There are a lot of kids in our area that are sleeping on air mattresses or old mattresses on the floor, or on a couch,” said Flach, who volunteers as the not-for-profit’s group’s executive director. 

Another example Flach gave was a single mother of twins in Schenectady who had asked for a crib and a double stroller. A couple of women from a church delivered those items and were at the woman’s home, putting the crib together when they noticed that there were no curtains on the apartment windows. The women offered to get and install curtains for the mother, Flach said, and have continued to help her with some basic needs. 

One of the open requests now on CarePortal in Schenectady County is on behalf of a single mother of a 10-year-old boy with autism; he and his mother sleep together on a couch every night, but he does not sleep well, and this affects his ability to concentrate in school, says his mother, who is asking, through an agency, for a bed for him. 

Another request is for a family that has a 1-year-old daughter and needs sheets for her bed, curtains for her room, and any kitchen items such as dishes or pots and pans. 

In Schenectady County, 361 children have been served by local churches through CarePortal so far, said Flach. Her organization launched CarePortal locally. CarePortal serves children in about 21 states across the country, according to Flach. 

There are about 16,000 children in foster care in New York State, with about a quarter of those available for adoption, Flach said. 

Only about 3 percent of churchgoers actually take foster children into their homes, Flach said. She wishes that percentage were higher. 

But when Justice for Orphans discovered CarePortal several years ago, the organization knew it was the answer it was looking for, a way to get everyone in a church involved in the work of supporting vulnerable children. 

CarePortal was created by another faith-based organization, Flach said: the Global Orphan Project based in Kansas City, Missouri. That group, Flach said, did a lot of work in international adoption but “felt compelled to help here at home in the U.S.”

She and her husband have three biological children and five adopted children, she said. Her group believes, she said, that the Christian Church is biblically mandated to care for orphans. James 1:27 says, she explained, “Pure and faultless religion in the sight of God is to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” 

She co-founded Justice for Orphans about seven years ago, with another adoptive mother, Flach said, explaining that initially the group was just trying to inspire and educate the churchgoers about the importance of getting involved in adoption and foster care.

Now, with the program running in one county and set to launch in another, Flach said the all-volunteer group is beginning to look at possibly hiring some paid staff.  

The work that Justice for Orphans does, Flach said, includes training county staff how to use the platform, recruiting churches, and training church leaders on how to use it. 

Justice for Orphans has launched in Albany County through the Albany County Department for Children, Youth and Families, with 10 churches lined up to offer support, Flach said. 

She added, “The more churches participating, the more children can be served.” 

The 10 churches currently participating in CarePortal in Albany County are Abounding Love Christian Fellowship, City Church, Grace Baptist Church, King’s Chapel, Life Church, Loudonville Community Church, Redeemer Church, Spindle City Vineyard Church, the Solid Rock Family Church, and Carman Road Alliance. 

Crystal Clear Finances is providing funding for the first year, so there is no cost to Albany County, said county spokeswoman Mary Rozak this week.

More Regional News

  • Local Democratic Assembly members — Patricia Fahy representing the 109th District and John Mcdonald representing the 108th — say that, although the State Legislature is not in session, they are busy holding hearings, drafting bills, and meeting constituents’ needs in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • While the Albany County executive says the Capital Region will be eligible to begin the first phase of reopening in a day or two, he and the county’s health commissioner stress that workplaces as well as residents must heed directives to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19.

  • Work sites are to be set up to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as the Capital Region begins the first phase of reopening tomorrow. Returning workers are to be tested for COVID-19.

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