May is National Foster Care Month

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.

Hope and a future

Closeup of girl's face, showing eye, nose and hair in profile

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.