Local Churches Revitalize DCFS Visitation Rooms

Few things are as impactful to reunification as visitation times. These are the moments when a biological parent or sibling can see their family with whom they have been separated due to the child entering DCFS custody. Most of these visits happen within DCFS offices in an assigned “visitation room”.
Due to the huge impact these visitation rooms can have on family reunification, two local churches have revamped the visitation rooms at Pulaski County DCFS’ offices.
We want to say a HUGE thank you to Sylvan Hills Community Church and Sylvan Hills Church of Christ for meeting this need in such an incredible way!
The following article was published by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette by Paper Trails columnist Sean Clancy:

“At the Arkansas Department of Human Services office on East Washington Street in North Little Rock, there is a room where children in foster care meet with their biological parents during supervised visits. It’s called the visitation room.

Every time Morgan Adams went there, the state of the space left her dejected.

“I thought, ‘My goodness, this is where children hang out with their parents, and it’s not OK,'” says Adams, 38, who lives in North Little Rock with her husband, Scott, their three children and their 9-month-old foster son. “It was very dirty with piles of toys and a couch that shouldn’t even be on a street corner.”

Although the room is a place for families to engage and connect, sometimes parents don’t show up.”Not only are the children left feeling sad and rejected, but then they’re in a gross room,” Adams says. “Our thought was that we can’t control the parents’ choices, but we can control the environment to an extent and the aesthetic impact it has on a child.”

Adams wanted to do something. As she was talking to friends about what steps to take, she learned of a plea from The Call, a faith-based group that works with adoptive and foster families, to fix up the room.

“I instantly replied that I would do it,” says Adams, a member of Sylvan Hills Church of Christ. “I knew I could get people to help, whether it was my church family or my family and friends.”

She started a registry at Amazon.com for items to spiff up the room — things like a TV, DVD player, a play kitchen, table, chairs, games, toys, a wall-mounted hand sanitizer station and a new sofa. Almost everything was bought within a couple of days, she says.

New floor tiles were installed, the walls got a fresh coat of paint and on Aug. 2, volunteers redecorated the area. A second visitation room was to be fixed up Saturday by volunteers from Sylvan Hills Community Church.

Adams hopes that the project influences others who want to lend a hand.

“Funding for these types of things is not there, and this is a group of people really overwhelmed with cases. They don’t have the time to reach out for help. I think that should be on us, on church groups and community groups to step up and say, ‘How can we help you?'”

Working with the state as a foster parent has also given Adams a greater appreciation for what caseworkers do.

“I have a whole new level of empathy for what they are dealing with every day,” she says. “They are literally in the trenches. They’re doing really heavy stuff, and it’s been a joy for me to get to know the people working in that office and to take on some of their perspective.””

You can read the full article here.


While the article was published before the second room was completed the following week, Sylvan Hills Community Church completed an incredible revamp as well (see pictures below)! We want to thank both Sylvan Hills Community Church and Sylvan Hills Church of Christ for their incredible work!


Visitation Room #1

Sponsored by Sylvan Hills Church of Christ

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Visitation Room #2 

Sponsored by Sylvan Hills Community ChurchImage may contain: indoor

Worth Our Time: The Hirscheiders

My call to foster care came at a point in my life where my faith was weak. I was profoundly missing the close relationship with Christ that I knew I needed and kept hearing his gentle invitation through the words of James 1:27. I was seeking the “pure religion” described by James and nothing seemed to draw me closer to Jesus than to care for his children.

My husband and I fostered for a few years while our biological family grew, mostly providing respite care. During this time, a handful of foster families and supporters at our church, Pleasant Valley Church of Christ, held a small brainstorming meeting to explore new ways to expand our reach. We began by just acting on the needs God revealed to us. We hosted a Pride training, began trying out new ways to show support to our families, looked into how we could work with existing ministries at our church, and created more fellowship opportunities to build our community.

My role as the CALL church advocate served us well as we planned our efforts. The CALL has provided an enormous amount of support and encouragement over the years and continues to do so, as we navigate the system, learn how to reach out to our church body, and decipher the most practical next steps to take at each point.

Since that initial meeting, about five years ago, God has grown our ministry from about ten households to over 80. I have been immeasurably blessed to get to see Jesus in each of them. The vast majority are not foster parents, but they support in more ways than I can count, and I continue to see love and care for orphans spreading through our church body.

My family and I also grew quite a bit during that time. Both physically and spiritually. My husband and I have four children. Their ages are nine, six, four and two. One came to our family through adoption, and all have been positively affected by our involvement in this ministry. Ministering to children has taught our children more than we, as parents, could have ever accomplished on our own. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for each of them!

Of course, this road has not been easy. There is always a level of chaos and stress lurking below the surface – and more often than I’d like to admit – coming to the top. But working together as a family in this ministry brings us closer together as we all draw closer to Christ. I could not begin to put in the time I have in this ministry without the support and help I get from my husband, and the understanding from our children that this work is close to the heart of God and worth our time as a family.

– Courtney Hirscheider

Earning your trust

I’ve always told my children that trust is rarely granted. Instead it is earned. The next question they asked was “How do I earn your trust?” I told them that trust is earned with consistent behavior over time.

It is that simple and, unfortunately, there are no shortcuts.

One of the things we are serious about at The CALL is earning your trust. As an organization that depends on the generosity of people like you, we believe a sacred trust is the foundation of each financial gift you give.

One way we are consistent in our behavior over time is to be members of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). The ECFA provides financial supporters assurance that members are accountable. They examine seven areas of The CALL’s ministry:

  1. Doctrine – Does the Bible inform our belief and practice as an organization?
  2. Governance – Is there appropriate, independent board oversight?
  3. Financial Oversight – Are our finances audited and managed to rigorous accounting standards?
  4. Use of Resources and Compliance with Laws – Are management controls in place?
  5. Transparency – Are we active and open with our financial reporting?
  6. Compensation-Setting – Do we follow ECFA’s Compensation policies and recommendations?
  7. Stewardship of Charitable Gifts – Do we act in the best interest of our donors?

The ECFA describes their standards as simple but not simplistic. Each standard has significant implications for its members. As an ECFA member, The CALL must follow all these standards. You can review the standards in detail at ecfa.org. We encourage any organization you support to join this ECFA as well. It’s a high bar that helps you know we strive for integrity, honesty and competency in handling the dollars you give.

Here at The CALL, we want you to feel confident when giving your financial support. Being members of the ECFA is one way to build trust as we fulfill the mission of no waiting children in foster care.

Thank you for trusting us to mobilize the Church in Arkansas to love foster children with the extravagant love of Christ!

Mike ClowersBy Mike Clowers, Development Coordinator, The CALL in Pulaski County

No such thing as “too attached”

When someone says they’re a foster parent, they’re often met with the response, “I don’t know how you do it. I could never foster because I’d get too attached.” This idea upsets many foster parents because the truth is foster parents are no different than anyone else. They fall in love with these children and care for them like their own children and then the children leave and go back home.

Many foster families experience a great sense of loss when a foster child goes home, but that’s a good thing. There’s no such thing as getting “too attached” to a foster child. These children are like all other children and they crave love and attention. Many of these children have been neglected or abused and have never experienced the love of a parent for a child.

Foster children have been removed from their home and sometimes their school and community. They are away from most of the people they’ve ever known because it was not safe for them for whatever reason. These children are often scared and feel alone in a new house with a new and unfamiliar family. Even though being in care is the best thing for the time being, they still experience a huge disruption to their development and need some sort of normalcy.

One Arkansas foster mom said, “I look into his precious eyes and wonder again, ‘How could anyone not fall in love with you? How could anyone hurt you? How could anyone abandon you?’ The questions haunt me as days pass and I find myself loving more than the day before, loving so much it hurts, holding tight to another day, treasuring each darling moment because I know tomorrow might bring the phone call that [takes] him from my home, but never from my heart.

I take my anxious thoughts to the throne of the Great I Am, feel peace flood my body, and rest in this knowledge: While this energetic, fun, sweet, and precious child dwells in my home, whether just today, tomorrow, or forever, I will pour all the love I can into him, believing that God knows best and will work all for good, for I know I am called according to His purpose. Yes, oh my, yes, foster parents love their foster children.”

Whether it’s a few days, weeks, or longer, the love a foster family shows a child will last a lifetime. Many former foster children can recall the names of those families that loved them while their parents were getting the help they needed. Foster families often think back to the children they’ve had in their home and still feel concern about their well-being.

When the day comes that a foster child leaves the foster home and gets to return home, it is a joyous occasion for the child. For many foster families it is a very sad day filled with many tears because have grown to deeply love a child that was not their own. They have put the child’s need for love of their fear of loss. A foster family that grieves when a child goes home has loved that child the way they deserve to be loved. That sadness, though, is often quickly replaced with the joy of knowing that a child has been reunited with their family.

If you’re worried about getting too attached, then you would make an excellent foster parent. The foster children in Arkansas need families that have a heart so big it hurts when they’re gone. To find out more about fostering, attend an Info Meeting in your county.

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.