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 firstname.lastname@example.org by email if you have further questions.
Carolyn Knowlton, Arkansas County CALL Coordinator