May is National Foster Care Awareness Month.
For a child or youth in foster care, life is uncertain. They have been removed from all they know as family and placed with a family of strangers. Unless someone has also been in foster care, that reality is difficult to imagine.
Children and youth in foster care are everywhere: in church, school, on sports teams, in child care centers and neighborhoods. They are all ages, from newborn to 18, with more than 200 youth aging out of the system every year with no family to encourage or help them move toward becoming a successful adult. Currently, there are approximately 4,600 children in care statewide, according to statistics provided by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
Arkansas needs 2,500 more homes to have families waiting on children instead of children waiting on families. More than 50 percent of children and youth age 6 and over placed in foster care are placed in congregant care, not in families.
The CALL wants to change that because all children deserve to be part of a family. The CALL is a statewide organization that recruits, trains and supports foster families within the Christian community.
The CALL is currently active in 46 of the 75 counties in Arkansas and is working to launch in 10 additional counties this year.
The CALL currently has more than 715 homes representing 67 percent of the traditionally-recruited foster homes.
Since 2007, The CALL has helped DCFS open more than 1,850 homes.
The homes recruited by The CALL have served more than 11,000 children and youth. More than 900 children and youth have been adopted into their forever families.
The CALL has held over 680 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 homes, so that no child is waiting.
In order to reach that goal, The CALL needs to recruit 2,500 more foster homes. Not everyone is called to foster or adopt, but everyone can do something.
The CALL conducts monthly informational meetings to share how you can foster, adopt or volunteer to be part of the solution to the foster care crisis in Faulkner and Conway counties.
To learn more, visit www.thecallinarkansas.org/conway-faulkner or contact Louise Witcher, county coordinator, at 501-581-9208.