RIVER VALLEY (KFSM) — A foster care crisis is happening now in Arkansas. Around 8,200 children are in foster care every year in Arkansas, and right now there are more than 1,200 children in foster care in Area 2 in the state. This includes: Sebastian, Crawford, Scott, Franklin, Logan, Johnson and Yell Counties.
These kids are in need of a loving home and that statistic is showing no sign of slowing down.
Baptist Churches in the River Valley have teamed up with organizations and the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) to help with the foster care crisis in Arkansas. The goal is to have families from these area churches invite children in the foster system into their homes so they can have a loving family life.
The Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home reached out to the Concord Baptist Association with the idea.
The churches are now training foster families within the congregation and getting them certified. Each church also brings in a full-time foster care social worker from Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home, to guide families through “pride training”. This is where the families will learn child safety and how to properly care for these children in need. These foster care social workers are also the case workers for these children, in partnership with DCFS, so they know the full background on each child and the foster family.
The group is also hoping to get other parents from other Baptist churches to get involved with this pilot program. “We have so many families in our church that are great, healthy families that we think can provide a lot of care to these kid,” said Associate Pastor of Fort Smith Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Eric Ramsey.
“We’re excited about our church being a part of addressing this issue in our community. The need in our county is incredibly great and our church is helping address that issue and make a difference,” Ramsey said.
If you attend a Baptist church in the River Valley and want to get involved in this program, the requirements you must have to become a foster care parent are the same as state requirements.
- You must be 21 years old.
- You can’t have a health condition or disability.
- Two parent homes may apply as well as eligible single parent families.
“The end goal for the connecting program is to address the huge need for foster care in our area,” said Ramsey.
If you’d like to help, you can also reach Lynn Szczepanik with Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home & Family Ministries at 479-646-2100 Ex.) 103.
If you would like to be a foster parent, and you don’t attend a First Baptist Church in the area, DHS is always on the lookout to place kids in temporary homes until they’re reunited with their family. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a foster family, click here.