Here at The Riverside Project, a crucial aspect of our work involves empowering Houston communities to effectively address the practical needs of vulnerable families. While this program is not new, we’ve seen a 584% increase in the number of requests this year when compared to the same month last year. As the requests for the current month continue to show a massive spike in the number of needs in our community, our efforts to meet those needs remain the same.
The Response Network is how we facilitate getting needs met by churches and community partners across Houston. This is done by mobilizing our network of churches, foster closets, nonprofits, and other community partners to meet submitted needs. These requests are submitted by CPS investigators and caseworkers through an online form. We raise funds for this program to provide tangible items and services that help families stabilize and to provide training for community responders.
Child welfare professionals are often overwhelmed by the needs of children and families in our community. The Response Network exists to bridge the gap between families in need and churches, organizations, and people that want to help. In the last fiscal year (July 2022- June 2023), we were able to meet 1,165 needs of the 1,537 requests submitted. This means we were able to meet 76% of the requests submitted, and we hope to continue to see this percentage increase through partnerships and community support.
We always make a point to celebrate these moments when our community comes together to meet a need! Here are two recent stories of needs being met practically through The Response Network:
The first is a great aunt in South Houston who was facing financial difficulties as she cared for her one-year-old niece, three-year-old nephew, and an elderly relative. We were able to connect her with a passionate individual who not only was able to provide a solution to the family’s practical needs submitted, but also began an ongoing friendship with the family, supporting them relationally as well.
Our second story started with a call from a CPS caseworker who submitted a request on behalf of a youth in foster care. This youth was located in the Kingwood/Humble area and was in desperate need of braces. Through The Response Network, we were able to reach out to our friends at Woodridge Baptist Church who knew a member in their congregation was an orthodontist. That congregation member responded by offering their services—the youth will be able to begin orthodontic care shortly!
These stories are just a glimpse of the hundreds that highlight how The Response Network actively contributes to fulfilling the needs of vulnerable families and children throughout Houston. From furnishing entire apartments to making small grocery runs, The Response Network is making a real difference. But there are still many requests that go unmet due to a lack of resources, and due to the incredible amount of requests we receive.
We firmly believe that collaboration is key to transforming the foster care system in Houston and that meeting practical needs can help families heal and children thrive, but we need your help to continue to make it possible.
With the steady increase in requests this summer, we need more people to get involved. The best way to do that is through a one-time or regular donation.
Ultimately, our hope is that The Response Network will not only ensure families access the resources they need, but also ensure families are able to access healthy connections in the community for ongoing support and encouragement. If you’d like to be a part of our Response Network through financial support, volunteering, meeting needs, and making connections to vulnerable families in our community, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or head over to https://riversideproject.org/give/.
Together, we can create even more stories of needs being met as families are supported!