Help is now just a text away for Tarrant County residents searching for critical resources. A new texting service launches Wednesday to make it easier for families to find the help they need - close to home.
"This has been a long time in coming and we're actually very, very excited about starting up and getting it going," said Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley in an interview with NBC 5.
With TXT 4 Tarrant Cares, you text the word FIND to 6-7-6-2-9 for a guided search to access resources for a variety of topics like food or rental assistance, counseling services and help with substance abuse or domestic violence. The information is available in English and Spanish.
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"It's going to come up with, 'OK, what are you searching for? Are you searching for food assistance? What are you searching for?' And they'll indicate what subject they're looking for," Whitley explained. "You'll put in a ZIP code and be able to find the agency nearest to you that can help provide assistance in whatever way you're looking for."
TXT 4 Tarrant Cares is associated with Tarrant Cares, a decade-old online information service connecting families to solutions.
The need for the new service came from feedback by a local task force chaired by Cook Children’s Medical Center that studied the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). These experiences include exposure to abuse or neglect, family violence, mental illness, or any experiences that can disrupt a child’s development and lead to chronic health conditions. The ACEs Task Force worked with more than 60 partners and advisers in developing community recommendations to prevent and reduce adversities in children prenatally to age 5, to improve their health, safety and school readiness. Findings by the task force determined that getting help into the hands of local families most at risk of ACEs meant creating a more efficient and effective way for those families to access critical resources.
“Texting is probably one of the best ways to communicate resources and information because people feel more comfortable texting than they do picking up the phone,” said Roderick F. Miles, a member of the ACEs Task Force and executive administrator in the Office of Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks in a news release. “Our vision is to keep people from falling through the cracks and we do that by creating space for them to advocate for themselves and be their own navigators, their own social workers-and then they become advocates for other people and help them navigate through the process as well.”
TXT4 Tarrant Cares does not provide emergency response or the full range of service offerings provided by 211. A resource navigator can still be reached by calling 211 and information about services can be accessed online at www.tarrantcares.org.
Individuals needing immediate assistance from first responders should still contact 911.