Tarrant County Introduces New Texting Service for Residents
TXT4 Tarrant Cares (67629) Puts Critical Resources at Users’ Fingertips
Help is now just a text away for Tarrant County residents searching for critical resources. TXT4 Tarrant Cares, a community texting service introduced today, promises to make it easier for local families to find the help they desperately need, close to home.
TXT4 Tarrant Cares offers a convenient, safe and simple way to search for assistance with food; clothing and housing services; early childhood care; family support; mental health and counseling services; substance abuse programs; child abuse and neglect services; COVID-19 testing and vaccine information; and other critical needs.
By texting the word FIND to 67629, users are offered a guided search to access a list of nearby organizations to contact and provided with a ZIP code-specific list of resources. TXT4 Tarrant Cares is offered in English and Spanish and is available to anyone in Tarrant County in need of services. Examples of searches might include information on the nearest food pantry, rent assistance, or resources that can help residents apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
The new texting service is associated with Tarrant Cares, an online information service populated with the most up-to-date community resource listings by United Way’s 211 helpline. TXT4 Tarrant Cares draws on the Tarrant Cares database and gives users a quick, ZIP code-specific report of nearby resources to contact for support. The community-based solution is a collaborative effort by Mental Health Connection of Tarrant County (MHC), The Center for Children’s Health, led by Cook Children’s Health Care System, and Tarrant County.
“We have a lot of amazing local organizations and nonprofit agencies standing by to support individuals and families in our community, but sometimes it can be tough to figure out where to turn when you are in the midst of a crisis,” said Tarrant County Judge B. Glen Whitley, who founded the Tarrant Cares website with MHC in 2010. “TXT4 Tarrant Cares puts those answers in the palms of their hands, literally.”
The need for the new service came from feedback by a local task force chaired by Cook Children’s 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. “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.”
“The collective, long-term financial cost of not meeting the physical and mental health needs of our community’s most marginalized and vulnerable families is high, and the individual human cost is much higher,” said Virginia Hoft, executive director of MHC. “TXT4 Tarrant Cares is an important step forward in our efforts to level the playing field by giving everyone in our community immediate access to vital resources.”
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 a first responder should still contact 911.
About the ACEs Task Force
In 2019, the Tarrant County ACEs Task Force, created Circles of Support, a Blueprint for Safe, Healthy, and School-Ready Children. The effort was led by Cook Children’s Health Care System; the office of Mayor Betsy Price; the Office of Tarrant County Judge B. Glen Whitley; the Office of Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks; JPS Health Network; and supported by the Morris Foundation. The need for an easy-to-use texting service is a component of 25 priority recommendations detailed in the Circles of Support blueprint to assist families through difficult times.
About TXT4 Tarrant Cares (67629)
Launched in April 2021, TXT4 Tarrant Cares is a community-based texting service designed to help individuals and families in Tarrant County locate information on where to obtain critical resources—including food, housing, counseling, and childhood services. The texting service offers a guided search and delivers ZIP code-specific access to a database of local agencies and service organizations. TXT4 Tarrant Cares is an extension of Tarrant Cares, an online information service for individuals, families, caregivers and agencies. The community-based solution is a collaborative effort by Mental Health Connection of Tarrant County (MHC), and The Center for Children’s Health, led by Cook Children’s Health Care System, and Tarrant County.