From the Multnomah Lawyer: CourtCare’s 17th Annual Fundraising Campaign Suspended

Normally this is the time of year when the Multnomah Bar Foundation (MBF) calls on the Portland legal community to support its innovative and nationally recognized Multnomah CourtCare© program, but as we all know, these are far from normal times. During the unprecedented circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and considering all the ways our community has been impacted, the MBF Board has decided to suspend the CourtCare fundraiser for the year . We encourage everyone who has donated to CourtCare in the past to identify a charitable organization in your community to support in lieu of donating to CourtCare this year. Our community needs your help, and we are all in this together.

For those who do not know, or for those who need a refresher about CourtCare, the program provides free, high quality, drop-in childcare for parents with court business. In turn, access to justice is increased by removing the barrier of childcare for parents seeking assistance from the court, and the administration of justice is improved by reducing distractions in the courtroom and reducing the number of reschedules and no-shows because childcare is not available. In the words of Judge Katherine Tennyson “CourtCare is a service that every court needs.” We are one of the few jurisdictions in the country that provides this essential service.

Parents consistently express gratitude for the program:
A parent in January 2019 said “I am so thankful that my kids didn’t just hear what I went through, they are already freaked out enough.” Another mom was able to support her husband because of CourtCare. She stated, “I wanted to be with my husband for his sentencing and had no other place for our baby to stay.”

Kids love the program, too. One happy customer reported: “I love all the cows, you always give me oranges and crackers, and I only get oranges here. I love oranges.” Another expressed that “this is my best place to go.”

Recently, according to Crystal Ross, the director of the Family Relief Nursery and interim director of Drop-In Services for the Volunteers of America (VOA), the organization the MBF partners with to operate CourtCare, “CourtCare often has parents who show gratitude for the program, but one parent in particular expressed her gratitude in a big way. Stephanie (not her real name) has two grown sons about to leave the house and embark on a new journey as adults. When the boys were three and four years old they were living in Portland and going through a very difficult time. Stephanie juggled several court dates, at risk of losing custody of her boys, and unsure of what the future held for her family. She stumbled upon CourtCare while attending her court appearances and expressed instant relief that childcare was available and one less thing she had to worry about. Stephanie dropped her boys off at CourtCare with two teachers who the boys immediately formed a bond with, helping Stephanie feel even better about having to go to the courthouse so often. Fast forward to January 2020; Stephanie drove five hours from her home in Washington State with a purpose. She didn’t know if CourtCare was still in existence, but said she was so happy to find the program in the same room she remembered. She also received another pleasant surprise. The two teachers who welcomed her sons with open arms over 15 years ago were still there. She gave them both hugs, thanked them for caring for her boys during the most challenging time in her life, and let them know that CourtCare was there for her family when she needed it the most. Her sons were also featured on the very first brochure for CourtCare and she requested a copy to include in a scrapbook she was putting together for them when they move out of the house. Stephanie became a foster parent shortly after gaining full custody of her sons and has a heart for caring for children who are facing challenging situations like her sons once were. It is stories like this one that really resonate with the mission and purpose of CourtCare, to provide support and care for children who do not need to see the inside of a courtroom, but instead have a safe and compassionate space to be themselves.” In total, CourtCare is a win for parents, a win for kids, a win for the court, and a win for justice.

CourtCare will be open and ready to serve children at the new Central Courthouse the same day it opens its doors in 2020! The new Central Courthouse will feature a new and improved space for CourtCare that is specially designed for childcare and includes separate napping and reception areas. The space is three times bigger than the current space and will have the capacity to serve twice as many children, and will have all-new furniture, cabinetry, and toys (items currently in use will be donated).

Multnomah CourtCare serves children as young as six weeks and as old as 10 years and, since opening in 2001, has served over 18,000 families. In addition to providing high quality childcare, CourtCare makes referrals to families for basic needs, housing, food, clothing and diapers, as well as mental health services and legal aid.

To learn more about CourtCare please contact me, Jim Oliver, at, or at 503.778.5289. Also, please visit to view a brief informational video. On behalf of the MBF Board, thank you for your consideration of donating to the community charitable program of your choice this Spring during the COVID-19 pandemic, and thank you in advance for supporting the essential, innovative, and life changing program of CourtCare in the future.

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