May is National Foster Care Awareness Month. For a child or youth in foster care and their families, life is uncertain. Children and youth placed in foster care are removed from all that is familiar and their families begin the difficult journey to restore and strengthen their homes. While their parents work to address the needs of the home, children and youth need a place to heal from trauma and connect with those who will care for them during this time.
Currently, there are approximately 4,300 children in care statewide and less than 1,600 foster families open to care for them. Approximately 80% of children and youth who leave foster care return home to their families or are placed with relatives. Arkansas needs 2,500 more foster homes to have more than enough families waiting to care for these children and youth during their time in foster care.
The CALL is a statewide organization that mobilizes local churches to raise up and support families to serve local children and families in need by providing children and youth in foster care what they need most – a family. We do that by recruiting, training and supporting foster and adoptive families within the Christian community. We work to provide what children and youth in foster care need most, a family to care for them during the most difficult season in their life. The CALL is currently active in 47 of the 75 counties in Arkansas and is working to launch in 10 additional counties this year. The CALL currently has over 700 foster homes representing 67% of the traditionally recruited foster homes. Since 2007 The CALL has helped the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) open over 2,050 homes. The homes recruited and supported by The CALL have cared for over 13,000 children and youth for a season. Over 1,100 children and youth have been adopted into their forever families. Caring for children and youth from hard places is a task that cannot be done alone. The CALL walks alongside families through their journey and has held over 800 local support events and continuing education opportunities for foster and adoptive homes since 2013.
The vision of The CALL is to have more than enough healing homes, so that no child is waiting for a home. In order to reach that goal, The CALL needs to recruit 2,500 more foster homes and have enough local support to help those families thrive! Will you consider standing up for a child or youth in foster care? Not everyone is called to foster or adopt, but everyone can do something. During the month of May you can help raise awareness by wearing blue on Fridays. In addition to this, you can reach out to provide tangible support to the 20 foster children in Van Buren County by “paying it forward” through your support of a foster family in your community. You can do this through acts of service (take them dinner, mow their lawn, give them a gift basket) or by becoming a monthly Defender for The CALL by donating $19 a month to help recruit additional foster families in Arkansas.
If you would like to know more about foster care, adoption or volunteer opportunities to join in as part of the solution to the foster care crisis in Van Buren County, join The CALL for an Informational Meeting. To learn more, please visit our web site TheCALLInArkansas.org or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheCALLinAR/Van Buren. You can also give us a call at 501-251-7331.