There are currently more than 6,200 children in foster care across Oklahoma, and one nonprofit organization is working diligently to reduce that number and help as many children as possible.
The 111Project, established in 2011, is built upon the values of community, caring and connection. The organization strives to help Oklahoma children in the foster care system by connecting them to potential foster families and providing avenues of support.
The 111Project seeks to mobilize local churches to help end the child welfare crisis in the state of Oklahoma. For every one church mobilized, 111Project hopes to recruit and support one foster family from that church and serve one child welfare family through the organization’s care-sharing platform, CarePortal.
This “1 Church, 1 Family for 1 Purpose” mission strives to garner more support and lessen the number of children and families in crisis across the state.
“It’s not the work that 111Project does, but the work that the churches and communities do that is important,” says the 111Project’s Chelsea Weeks.
“The 111Project is here to bring awareness and engagement opportunities, but then ultimately pass ownership to our local communities to solve their crisis. We aim to support these communities of care throughout the state in their missions to serve children and families.”
By recruiting and advocating for foster families, the 111Project is helping to ensure that there are enough safe and loving families to receive children in their greatest time of need, keep children local to their communities, schools, and families while also keeping as many siblings together as possible.
“We support the biological, kinship families and case workers involved,” Chelsea explains. “This might include stabilizing a family to keep children out of foster care, removing obstacles that allow for children to return home quicker, stabilizing a foster placement, or helping a child or youth when they have a transition plan into an adoptive family or into adulthood. Ultimately, the goal is building a stronger community of care around each family.”
This year, the 111Project will serve over 8,000 Oklahoma children across 54 counties, and the network of involved churches, agencies and counties grows each year. Since the inception of the organization's CarePortal in 2015, the number of children in foster care has been reduced by almost half.
In the future, the 111Project hopes to expand into all 77 counties across the state and work with business and foundation partners to serve under-resourced communities. Bringing in the support of community organizations allows the 111Project to further expand its outreach.
Recently, the 111Project teamed up with The S.O.U.L. Mission, the University of Oklahoma football team’s development program, to build over 250 bunk beds for kids who have been placed with foster families. Partnerships such as these help improve the lives of many Oklahoma families, including those in the child welfare system.
“We believe in the near future, 111Project will have mobilized enough churches to activate all 77 counties on CarePortal and can build enough capacity to see that every family that needs help in the child welfare system can get it in Oklahoma,” she adds.
“We hope to see a child welfare system with more than enough families and more than enough support.”