BY MELANIE BUCK –
The state of Arkansas has reached an all-time high in numbers of foster children across the state and Polk County is no exception to that statistic. More than 5,000 children are currently in foster care in Arkansas, and around 30 of those are in Polk County. Trying to find placements for the children has become an increasing struggle for caseworkers and advocates everywhere.
Renee Hendrix, Assistant Director of CASA of the Ouachitas (Court-Appointed Special Advocates), said there are only 10 homes in Polk County to care for the 30 foster children from here. That means that many times, children have to be moved out of the county while in foster care.
In Northwest Arkansas, there has been a surge in the number of foster children in recent years. As of early August 2016, there are more than 500 children in foster care in just Northwest Arkansas.
Across Arkansas, there are groups of people trying to correct the problem, but they also need help from local communities. The CALL is an Arkansas organization that was founded in Pulaski County in 2007, with the purpose of recruiting, training and supporting foster families in Arkansas. They have created individual organizations in 37 Arkansas Counties and, as of September 2015, have assisted in opening 1,185 foster homes in Arkansas. The CALL operates under their guiding verse, James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father considers pure and undefiled is this: to care for the widows and orphans in their distress…”
The Call works with local churches to help recruit and train individuals for ongoing support for foster families in the community. They received the same training that the state provides.
For more information on how you can help through The Call, please contact Jennifer Brewer by phone at 479.234.2398 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To volunteer for CASA, call 479-243-9277.