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

Image may contain: indoorImage may contain: indoorImage may contain: living room and indoor 

Visitation Room #2 

Sponsored by Sylvan Hills Community ChurchImage may contain: indoor

The Byerleys: God’s Approval

“To those trying to make a decision about fostering and/or adopting, I would like to share our experience in brief.  My wife and I were told about The Call and went to a meeting at a church.  At the meeting we got the information and the opportunity to put our foot forward in the direction of opening our home to the orphaned children in Arkansas.  We soon realized in the training the seriousness and severity of the situations leading to a child being placed in foster care.  We became aware that this was going to be more of a ministry that requires God’s help.  Once we began with our first placement we felt an almost indescribable assurance of God’s approval and blessing.  We soon found out the common goal of all was to reunite these kids back to their parents….We may foster and/or adopt more but what I like is the fact that we made the decision based on what we can do and what God wills us to do.  We’ve learned it takes courage to make this decision but ultimately it is God’s approval that really matters.  I hope our example helps and encourages you in this great endeavor.” -Jeffery

The LaGrones: Reunification

“To us foster care is more about the whole family, and not just the children. We love to see when a child can be reunited with family even if it’s not mom and dad. We got to experience this with our first foster son. He got to be reunited with his loving grandmother. Throughout, the last several years we have gotten to see him grow, meet and exceed expectations, and be apart of his life. This wouldn’t have been possible without reunification and the love and support of all of us. ” -Heidi

Leten Adams: Priceless Joy

I am a single mother of 3. Through the good times and hard times I got to see my children become adults. I am now 52 years old and it feels good to have my me time. Or so I thought.  I would have 6 to 15 children at a time just on weekends. I was a mentor for children age 12 to 15 year old. I would show up at their schools, sometimes I would have etiquette party’s and invite fathers to take their daughter’s out to eat and mothers to take their son’s out to eat. Hmm still no me time. I became a foster parent through seeing children while babysitting for other foster families. I could see their broken hearts, anger, acting out, and their pain. Who would have thought  I would have adopted two wonderful boys at age 3 and 4. Now 9 and 10. I looked back on the seed that was being planted in them from my life style, praying, teaching, encouragement, rewards and most of all agape love. I decided to teach and emphasize more on these two scriptures. Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord and Lean not on my own understanding. Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child and agape love showing them unconditional love, and showing selfless love. The love Jesus Christ has shown me!

Now I get to see the children that were angry and rebellious, receive hope and ambition.  The joy I see in them is priceless. My children feel comfortable and safe, you know that’s peace (With no worries!) because they are encouraged and taught agape love. I know now how a virtuous woman feels. Because these two boys tell me everyday “I love you mom.”-Leten

The Brasfields: The Role of Foster Parents

“As foster parents, we realize our job is to make children that enter our home feel loved, comfortable, and accepted. We love playing a role in our foster children’s story even if it’s for a day or for several months. The greatest joy for us is seeing our kids reunited with their families. It can be tough to let them go, but to know we have them what they needed when they need it the most, makes being a foster parent all worth while.” -Kimberly
The role of a foster parent is essential. The healthy reunification of a child with their biological families is what we hope for every time.