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Foster Care, Poverty, and an Unexpected Role for The Church

A quill, representing The Signatry

Adrien Lewis

February 22, 2024

Adrien Lewis is the Founder & President of CarePortal, a nonprofit that connects churches with the real-time needs of local children and families in crisis. Their goal is to keep families safely together before foster care is needed. The Signatry has partnered with CarePortal to share the stories of two families who champion this cause and raise awareness of the ways every generous Christian can help solve this problem.

I love my kids. I love being a dad. At the same time, being a parent is one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life! And I’ve had a lot of help. My wife is amazing. Our extended family has rallied around us to provide advice and support. So have our friends and our life group. We have an amazing community surrounding us.

The Root Cause of Children Entering the Foster System

However, not everyone is as fortunate. The foster care system unveils a harsh reality, shedding light on the struggles faced by countless children and families. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of children entering foster care are not victims of abusive parents; rather, their situation is often rooted in neglect due to poverty.

More shockingly, the foster system serves as a gateway to other devastating issues in our nation. Astonishingly, 50% of the homeless and 65% of sex trafficking survivors have spent time in foster care. The disproportionate representation of black children in the foster system, almost 2 to 1, further emphasizes the urgent need for change.

Homelessness, sex trafficking, and incarceration are intricately linked to the foster system, and poverty underlines them all.

The question arises: What if we could prevent more children from entering the foster system by addressing the root problems related to poverty? Could we keep families together and transform lives radically?

Learning Foster Care Firsthand

I was in my 30s when I first learned about the foster system, and my initial perceptions were far from the truth. My misconception that it only involved cases of parental abuse crumbled when, a decade ago, my family felt a calling to foster. We’ve since adopted three of our six children through this journey, and I’ve been working within the system ever since. Being a foster parent has been both humbling and awe-inspiring, teaching me profound lessons about love.

The desire to keep families intact led to a vision in December 2013 — a vision to connect children in crisis with real-time help from those who care. From that vision, the CarePortal app was born.

A Place for Everyone to Help

CarePortal is a beacon of hope, connecting technology with actionable compassion for local children and families in crisis. The concept is simple: Trusted caseworkers submit real needs into the CarePortal app, and caring individuals, churches, and businesses receive them in real-time, ready to take meaningful action.

CarePortal makes caring practical.

A local business can help a specific single mom who just left an abusive relationship and is trying to get a house together so she can take care of her kids. The church can help a specific single dad who needs his car fixed so he can get to work and provide for his kids. Your family can step up for the terrified young woman who is pregnant and just leaving the foster system who can’t afford the basics like a crib.

That was exactly where MeKaisha found herself.

From Fear to Family

At 17, about to age out of the foster system, she faced the daunting reality of becoming a mother. With no resources and no family, MeKaisha’s caseworker submitted a request in CarePortal for a basic necessity: a crib.

The Denbow family at People’s Church responded to this request, and they were happy to get Mekaisha a crib.

Once they got to know Mekaisha, they realized they were being called to go above and beyond the crib. They threw her a baby shower, brought her to church with them, helped with driver’s ed… They opened their hearts to her. The Denbows treated MeKaisha like family.

Through this love and support, Makaisha’s life was radically transformed. She’s not only a great mom to her child, but she advocates for other children aging out of the foster system, alongside her new husband, as part of her full-time ministry at their local church.

Imagine the impact if we pursued such practical ways to love our neighbors. Imagine the impact if we all said yes to caring for the most vulnerable children in our community—to being the hands and feet of Christ in their lives. We would change the world.

The foster system’s front door is the strategic entry point for systemic change in our country. Safely keeping kids from entering foster care is the most effective way to address issues like homelessness, sex trafficking, and incarceration. Each of us can be part of this change.

About Adrien Lewis

A quill, representing The Signatry

Adrien Lewis is the Founder & President of CarePortal, a nonprofit that connects churches with the real-time needs of local children and families in crisis.

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