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'Walk a Mile in My Shoes' campaign brings awareness to children in foster care in Sebastian Co.

May is National Foster Care Month and local organizations laid 481 pairs of shoes in Fort Smith to represent all of the children in foster care in Sebastian County.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Sebastian County ranks second in the state for most kids in foster care and advocates are calling the situation a crisis. Local organizations are teaming up to help find families for waiting kids. 

"We saw a need and we thought 'let's just step in there and fill it as best we can,'" said Krista Morland, foster parent. 

Just within the last few years, Sebastian County led the state in the number of kids in foster care with close to 800. Today, the number of kids in foster care in the county is down to 481.

“That's more than what's in my daughter's public school," Morland said. "So, if you think about your child's entire school in foster care, that's what we're facing here in Sebastian County."  

Eight years ago, Krista Morland and her husband became foster parents. During that time they have helped nearly 60 kids in the foster care system in Sebastian County.

Morland says fostering is rewarding but isn't without its challenges. 

“It's hard but none of it's wasted time. Anytime you can step into the life of a child who is suffering and hurting and then love on them and give them a safe place to stay and then also love on their families, none of that's ever wasted no matter how hard the work is," said Morland. 

The Arkansas Family Alliance and the State Division of Child and Family Sevices teamed up in Fort Smith on Wednesday, May 18, for the Walk a Mile in My Shoes event. 

481 pairs of shoes were laid out across the grass on the corner of Rogers Avenue and Free Ferry- each one representing a child in foster care.

“This is a community crisis and when we realize that, when we're aware of that and we stand shoulder to shoulder together to try and make a difference, all hands on deck, you see the decrease in the number of kids that enter foster care," said Matt Whitson, Executive Director at Arkansas Family Alliance. 

Organizers say a portion of the shoes will have a global impact by being sent to kids in Togo, Africa, and another portion will go to children in foster care in Sebastian County. 

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