The CALL in Arkansas County

Ron & Carolyn Knowlton, Arkansas County CALL Coordinators

Ron & I became Coordinators for The CALL in our county because of my experience as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) within the foster care system. In 2007, I was assigned three siblings who were never placed together for more than a few weeks because of a lack of foster homes. The three of them were in care for approximately 3 years and were moved a total of 39 times! I remember praying as soon as I became CASA for these children: “Lord, where are the churches? The churches have people that could be helping these children!”

Largely as a result of my CASA Director’s prayers, I felt the “call” to help bring The CALL to our county in 2009. The CALL in Arkansas County was launched in May 2010. The purpose of The CALL is to educate, equip, and encourage the church congregations of our county to provide more Christian foster homes. This ministry is conducted in partnership with our local Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

The CALL of Arkansas County has been richly blessed over the past 7 years since we launched the ministry in 2010.  When we began, we only had 2 open foster homes and virtually no adoptions.  At any given time in our county, we have approximately 50 children in foster care.  During the course of a year, approximately 125 children will enter foster care in Arkansas County.  So, in the beginning, most of our foster children were being cared for in other counties across the state because of the lack of open Foster/Adoptive Homes.

Today, The CALL of Arkansas County provides support for 24 families with 6 other families in the process of opening their homes.   It is amazing what the Lord has done in our county with the help of approximately 20 volunteers and 15 churches.  29 children have also been adopted into their “forever” homes by these families with 6 more in the latter stages of the adoption process!  Not only are our CALL families able to care for the children of our county but they also regularly care for children from neighboring counties, as well.

Our strategy for growing this ministry is to take our video into the county churches with the message of the need we have for more foster and adoptive homes. Those who are interested in helping with this ministry are then asked to attend an Informational Meeting to learn more about the process of becoming foster and adoptive parents or to become a volunteer.

After prospective foster and adoptive families are identified, The CALL Trainers provide the required 27 hours of training.  Volunteer CPR Trainers also provide the required 4 hours of CPR training to the foster families. Then, our Home Study Volunteers conduct a home study on each family. Finally, the new foster or adoptive family is approved by DCFS and we have a new foster or adoptive home to care for foster children in our county. All the training is provided for foster and adoptive families at no cost to them by The CALL volunteers.

The CALL of Arkansas County also conducts monthly Foster Support Meetings which are helpful in providing foster parents with their needed 15 hours of continuing education units which are required annually by DCFS.  Various host churches around our county provide a meal as well as babysitting at these meetings where we provide training for the families.  We could not conduct these meetings without the generous support of our county’s churches.

If you’re interested in learning more about fostering and/or adoption, the first step in the process is to attend an Info. Meeting.  You may register for our next Info. Meeting here on the website.  At the Info. Meeting, we’ll walk you through the process needed to open your home to foster children. You may contact me at arkansascounty@thecallinarkansas.org by email if you have further questions.

Sincerely,

Carolyn Knowlton, Arkansas County CALL Coordinator

Hope and a future

With over 5,000 children in foster care and less than 2,000 foster homes, Arkansas is in a crisis. Since 2014, the number of children in foster care has steadily increased. The State of Arkansas is scratching its head, trying to figure out what to do about the problem.

James 1:27 states, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”

Since 2007, The CALL has gone into churches to challenge people to do one of two things: Foster or support those who are able to foster. Little by little, The CALL breaks down the barriers that have kept people from fostering for so long. Over the past 10 years, The CALL has answered the hard questions for numerous families. Once those questions were answered, many families were ready to start the foster care/adoption process.

The Bible tells us the church is the answer, so that is where The CALL starts. We go into churches and host recruitments. We share our hearts and the need for foster families and challenge people to support foster families. Then, it is up to the churches. We host an informational meeting for interested couples to hear more about becoming a foster or adoption family.

Potential families have to complete a massive amount of paperwork, 30 hours of training, CPR, and more in order to open up as a foster or adoption home. Without The CALL, these families would be left to navigate the process by themselves. Many families who do this on their own quit or take longer to open because of the lack of support. The CALL guides families through this process, answering any questions and helping iron out wrinkles.

Once a foster family is open, The CALL becomes a part of their village. The CALL Mall helps families with clothes, baby furniture, diapers, and other necessities at no cost. The CALL stays in touch with these families to ensure they have what they need physically, emotionally, and spiritually to be great foster parents.

In the past 10 years, The CALL has helped open over 1,161 foster homes and 369 adoption homes. Over 501 children have been adopted by families supported by The CALL.

When you become a foster parent or volunteer with The CALL or donate to The CALL, you are making a difference locally. You can see the fruits of your labor because the foster children you pour your life into will grow up to be contributing members of your community.
There is a great need for foster families, but we understand that not every is called or able to foster. Even if you cannot foster, there’s still something you can do. If it takes a village to raise a family, it takes an entire church to support a foster family. The CALL needs people willing to donate their time, talent, and resources to help us eliminate the crisis in Arkansas. Do you have an extra hour a week? Can you help out a few hours a month or maybe more? If so, check out the volunteer page to find out where you can get plugged in. The CALL has a place for you.

Can’t foster or volunteer? Donate. The CALL is a non-profit organization and we cannot do anything to support these families without the financial support of generous individuals and churches.

We are not all meant to do the same thing, but we are all supposed to do something.