Mobilizing churches locally so every child has a family
“The reality is that in every community across Oklahoma, there are children and families in crisis, but there are also local churches willing to help. Often these opportunities require the church and state agencies to work together. 111Project bridges the gap between resources and opportunities by equipping local churches to engage directly with the issue of foster care. Through a unified church initiating prayer, resources, volunteers, and ultimately families in an intentional discipleship process we believe there can be families waiting on children instead of children waiting on families.” – 1*1*1 Project – In Sept. 2022, some statistics regarding the state and the current plight of Oklahoma’s child welfare system. Here is a refresher of those numbers:
• Oklahoma has 6,663 children in state care and of that number, 1,639 children are out of their county of origin and 180 are separated siblings.
• In Okmulgee County, 142 children (not including tribal), have been removed from their home and are in the care of someone else.
• Currently, there are only 15 traditional foster homes open and 33 kinship (relative or kinship non relative) homes open in Okmulgee County.
As of July 2023, Oklahoma has 6,364 in out of Home Care, Okmulgee County has 162. Statewide, 1,482 children were placed out of their county of origin. 43 children have been placed outside of Okmulgee County. And 1,871 have been placed in a kinship foster care home and 1,626 children are currently living in traditional foster homes in the state of Oklahoma.
In Okmulgee County, there are 34 kinship foster care homes available and only 15 available as traditional foster care homes.
Foster care stands as a crucial pillar of support for families in crisis, offering refuge to children facing unstable living conditions and providing a lifeline to communities grappling with familial challenges. This holds especially true in the state of Oklahoma, where a significant number of families are navigating crises that threaten the well-being of their children. Organizations like 1*1*1 Project and their Care-Portal program are answering the call to keep families connected, serviced and protected. This is done through a pledge of the local church and its commitments to help serve local families in need.
A brief explanation on how the CarePortal works, a need is made known and submitted by an admin for the portal such as a DHS case worker, or church contact. Once the need is submitted, those who are in the CarePortal network for that area can commit to fulfilling this need. By building partnerships with not only churches but also area schools, 1*1*1 has been able to serve 25,986 children and make a $10,878,104 economic impact! Oklahoma has 48 counties involved and utilizing the 1*1*1 Project CarePortal with a 49th county being added on August 10. 50 children have been served in Okmulgee County alone with a $19,173 economic impact.
In the City of Okmulgee, 35 children have been served and a $14,176 economic impact has been made and approximately 80% of the needs have been/ or partially met since Jan. 1. There is a current family reunification need where a $500 gas card is needed to aid the family through the process.
With the shortage of resources, economic hardships, substance abuse, and mental health issues which often leave families in dire circumstances and impacts their ability to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children, local organizations like 1*1*1 Project, social workers, and concerned citizens rally to address the needs of both the children and families.
Focusing on rehabilitation, support, and reintegration whenever possible these efforts strengthen the foster care system, provide necessary resources, and offer preventive services aimed to not only mitigate crises but also build a stronger foundation for families within Okmulgee County and the broader Oklahoma community.
As these challenges persist, a collective dedication to safeguarding the futures of these children and supporting families in crisis remains paramount, demonstrating the resilience of communities in the face of adversity. Communities like you and the organizations that help to build you are vital.
“It is for this purpose that 1*1*1 Project exists,” a representative stated. “We believe that the local church desires to not only proclaim the gospel to the whole world but to display it in a way that brings God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. To identify injustices and alleviate suffering by helping the stranger become neighbor and neighbors to become family is made plain in passages like James 1:27, Psalms 68:56, & Matthew 25:35-40 and countless others.”
For more information, visit oklahoma.111project. org or contact Regional Manager Jason Grewe at 918-859-8886 or by email at jason@ 111project.org.