Re­store Hope works to live up to its name

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - MICHAEL R. WICKLINE

A fledg­ling non­profit group aimed at re­duc­ing the num­ber of chil­dren in foster care and keep­ing peo­ple out of prison has helped or­ga­nize al­liances in Se­bas­tian and White coun­ties, and even­tu­ally hopes to have about a dozen part­ner­ships across the state.

Gov. Asa Hutchin­son in­spired the cre­ation of Re­store Hope Inc. af­ter hold­ing a two-day con­fer­ence in Au­gust 2015 by the same name.

The non­profit group’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor is Paul Chap­man Jr., a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of mis­sions at Fel­low­ship Bi­ble Church in Lit­tle Rock and a for­mer busi­ness an­a­lyst and

man­ager at for­mer tele­phone com­pany All­tel. The non­profit group’s board is made up of the troika of Dil­lard’s Inc. Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent Bill Dil­lard III, fund man­ager and Innovate Arkansas ad­viser Ted Dickey and Chap­man, Chap­man said.

Re­store Hope Inc. filed reg­is­tra­tion papers with the sec­re­tary of state’s of­fice on Jan. 12, 2016, ac­cord­ing to that of­fice. Hutchin­son’s Re­store Hope con­fer­ence in 2015 was aimed at en­cour­ag­ing faith­based or­ga­ni­za­tions to help the state pro­vide bet­ter ser­vices for foster chil­dren and in­mates who are re-en­ter­ing so­ci­ety.

Chap­man re­called that the Repub­li­can gover­nor urged the par­tic­i­pants to work to­gether to make changes.

“I had quite a bur­den,” he said in a re­cent in­ter­view at the non­profit group’s of­fices at 3700 W. 65th St. in Lit­tle Rock. “I was wak­ing up early in the morn­ing [think­ing] the gover­nor could make some­thing hap­pen dif­fer­ent than the way we op­er­ate and only the gover­nor could do that here.”

So Chap­man said he started work­ing with the gover­nor’s staff on “what that would look like,” and Re­store Hope Arkansas was formed.

Hutchin­son, who said he at­tends Im­manuel Bap­tist Church in Lit­tle Rock and is a mem­ber of First Bap­tist Church in Rogers, noted he gath­ered more than 500 faith­based or­ga­ni­za­tions and pas­tors for the Re­store Hope sum­mit.

“With all the vol­un­teers and sup­port that gen­er­ated from that, we needed to have an um­brella or­ga­ni­za­tion to help guide and im­pact some of th­ese strate­gies in the

com­mu­ni­ties, and out of that arose Re­store Hope as this 501(c)(3) with Paul Chap­man lead­ing it,” Hutchin­son said Fri­day in an in­ter­view. He was re­fer­ring to the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice des­ig­na­tion for a tax-ex­empt or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“I couldn’t tell you who is the first one to come up with that idea. I don’t know,” the gover­nor said. He said he helped re­cruit Dickey and Dil­lard to serve on the group’s board of direc­tors be­cause he wanted to make sure that the group had strong busi­ness lead­ers who be­lieved in its mis­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to the non­profit group’s grant ap­pli­ca­tion to the Delta Re­gional Author­ity, Re­store Hope Arkansas “was launched by Gover­nor Hutchin­son to re­duce the num­ber of chil­dren en­ter­ing our state’s foster care sys­tem and re­verse the grow­ing rate of in­car­cer­a­tion.

“Know­ing that no one or­ga­ni­za­tion could ad­dress th­ese com­plex prob­lems, a col­lec­tive im­pact ap­proach was de­cided upon and Re­store Hope Inc. was cre­ated as the back­bone or­ga­ni­za­tion to guide the strat­egy and build com­mu­nity ca­pac­ity through the sup­port of state agencies and staffing lo­cal lead­er­ship col­lab­o­rates, called Al­liances,” ac­cord­ing to the grant ap­pli­ca­tion.

A copy of the non­profit group’s 2016 tax form shows that the group re­ceived $250,000 in gov­ern­ment grants — in­clud­ing $100,000 from the Gover­nor’s Emer­gency Fund, $100,000 from Arkansas Com­mu­nity Cor­rec­tion and $50,000 from the De­part­ment of Work­force Ser­vices — and its ex­penses to­taled $223,185, in­clud­ing $117,626 in salary and em­ployee ben­e­fits.

The non­profit group’s bud­get is about $500,000 this fis­cal year, and it has eight

paid em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing three full-time em­ploy­ees, and more than 100 vol­un­teers, Chap­man said.

Ac­cord­ing to the tax form, Chap­man’s com­pen­sa­tion was $105,000 in 2016. The group’s board of direc­tors “met and de­ter­mined a salary com­pa­ra­ble to other or­ga­ni­za­tions in this re­gion,” ac­cord­ing to that form that listed Chap­man as the board chair­man and Dil­lard as the vice chair­man. Chap­man said his salary will be ad­justed based on the non­profit group’s fund­ing, but he is paid less than what he was paid at his pre­vi­ous job and sig­nif­i­cantly less than what he was paid at All­tel.

The De­part­ment of Work­force Ser­vices has provided $250,000 in to­tal from Tem­po­rary As­sis­tance to Needy Fam­i­lies funds to Re­store Hope to help pro­vide ser­vices for ex-of­fend­ers and is work­ing with a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with Arkansas Com­mu­nity Cor­rec­tion to pro­vide $400,000 more, said Steve Gun­tharp, an as­sis­tant di­rec­tor at the de­part­ment.

The non­profit group’s fi­nan­cial sup­port­ers also in­clude Delta Re­gional Author­ity and Repub­li­can At­tor­ney Gen­eral Les­lie Rut­ledge’s of­fice. Fel­low­ship Bi­ble Church has provided a staff mem­ber for six months, ac­cord­ing to Chap­man. The author­ity granted Re­store Hope $119,000 af­ter Hutchin­son rec­om­mended the award and Rut­ledge provided a $75,000 grant to the non­profit group late in fis­cal 2017, which ended June 30.

The money from Rut­ledge’s of­fice was used “to as­sist with an in­no­va­tive com­mu­nity-led pi­lot pro­gram that will help in car­ing for chil­dren in the state foster care sys­tem and in­di­vid­u­als who are re-en­ter­ing so­ci­ety from prison,” said Judd Deere, a spokesman for Rut­ledge.

Chap­man said the non­profit group is ap­ply­ing for grants through the U.S. De­part­ment of Jus­tice’s Second Chance Act pro­gram and Kauf­man Foun­da­tion.

Asked if the aim is al­ways to use pub­lic funds for the non­profit group or to wean it from those funds, Hutchin­son said, “I think that re­mains to be seen in the fu­ture.

“There is a cou­ple of ways this can hap­pen. It is car­ry­ing out a very im­por­tant mis­sion of the state, and so I feel com­fort­able in hav­ing it re­ceiv­ing grant money … as long as they are ob­vi­ously prop­erly ac­count­ing for it,” he said.

“I don’t see emer­gency funds go­ing into it in the fu­ture. I think that was a one­time ex­pense,” Hutchin­son said.

“If it is go­ing to be long term, it needs to have more pri­vate sec­tor sup­port. It re­mains to be seen as to whether this has to be long term or whether this is a bridge to get to a level of com­mu­nity sup­port that we need that is self-func­tion­ing and self-ex­e­cut­ing,” Hutchin­son said.

Chap­man said the non­profit group is work­ing with the De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tion and the De­part­ment of Com­mu­nity Cor­rec­tion to iden­tify parolees re­turn­ing to their com­mu­ni­ties in Se­bas­tian and White coun­ties and to work with pa­role of­fi­cers to con­nect parolees with ser­vices. The in­tent is to pro­vide the best chance of suc­cess for th­ese in­di­vid­u­als re-en­ter­ing the com­mu­nity, he said. The two de­part­ments’ direc­tors have al­lowed the non­profit group’s case man­agers to have con­tact with in­mates on the verge of re­lease into th­ese com­mu­ni­ties, he said.

In the mat­ter of foster care, Chap­man said the White County Re­store Hope group has cre­ated a Mercy Ad­vo­cates for Par­ents pro­gram to

work with par­ents seek­ing to re­unify with chil­dren in the state’s care.

Paul Beran of Fort Smith, chan­cel­lor at the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fort Smith, is chair­man of the al­liance in Se­bas­tian County, while Reynie Rut­ledge of Searcy, chair­man and CEO of First Se­cu­rity Bancorp, is the chair­man of the al­liance in White County.

The al­liances in­clude pub­lic, pri­vate and so­cial sec­tor lead­ers to help ad­dress the unique is­sues each com­mu­nity faces in re­duc­ing the num­ber of chil­dren in foster care and adults in pris­ons.

Beran said he told Chap­man he would serve as the al­liance’s chair­man if he was asked to do it “be­cause it ap­peared to me that for Se­bas­tian County, all the paths for mak­ing a change crossed through the univer­sity in some way.” Beran said Hutchin­son asked him to chair the al­liance in that county.

Beran noted that Se­bas­tian County has a 55 per­cent pris­oner re­cidi­vism rate and more chil­dren in foster care than in the Lit­tle Rock area.

“Re­duc­ing re­cidi­vism through coun­sel­ing and life train­ing/coach­ing and ed­u­ca­tion will re­duce the num­ber in foster care be­cause jus­tice in­volved in­di­vid­u­als will have bet­ter par­ent­ing skills and cop­ing skills,” he wrote in an email. “Life coach­ing and coun­sel­ing can also re­duce a core prob­lem of drug ad­dic­tion (mostly opi­oids) and al­co­holism.”

Beran said he’s learned pub­lic and pri­vate agencies “with dif­fer­ent fo­cuses and pur­poses” some­times don’t com­mu­ni­cate well.

There have been two Se­bas­tian County al­liance meet­ings to find points of co­op­er­a­tion, and the lo­cal pro­ba­tion and pa­role of­fice helped lo­cate space for a “one-stop” shop for “jus­tice in­volved clients to get the help they need,” he said.

Heath Car­pen­ter, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of English at Hard­ing Univer­sity in Searcy, is a project man­ager for Re­store Hope in White County.

“We are re­ally in­ter­ested in what a univer­sity can do to help solve some of the prob­lems in the com­mu­nity … and we thought we would serve an in­ter­est­ing case study,” Car­pen­ter said.

“Our goal was sim­ply to get ev­ery­body around the ta­ble and ask ques­tions about what they are see­ing in their silo,” he said.

For ex­am­ple, Car­pen­ter said some parolees couldn’t get driver’s li­censes to drive to work be­cause their li­censes were sus­pended for not pay­ing fees and fines, so “we were able to spear­head an ef­fort with the driver’s li­cense bill passed in the past ses­sion with [Rep.] Clarke Tucker,” a Demo­crat from Lit­tle Rock.

He said Act 1012 of 2017 will al­low some peo­ple get­ting out of prison to get hard­ship li­censes to go to work, take their chil­dren to school and drive to the pa­role of­fices.

“We think that will mit­i­gate some of that pres­sure and hope­fully keep peo­ple from” go­ing back to prison, Car­pen­ter said.

So far, Hutchin­son said the Re­store Hope’s ef­forts are go­ing well.

“What I watch is they’re be­ing in­stru­men­tal in build­ing the long-term so­lu­tions and com­mu­nity sup­port for ad­dress­ing the foster care needs of our state and that they’re also as­sist­ing in the re-en­try pro­grams and build­ing a more sys­tem­atic ap­proach … to pro­vid­ing the means for ex-of­fend­ers to come out in our so­ci­ety,” the gover­nor said. “I think it has been a great in­vest­ment and a great mis­sion they have.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.