The CALL responds to crisis
Group addresses need for foster homes in Arkansas
Garland County has 132 children in foster care, yet has only 18 open foster homes as of July 11, according to Diane Wright, county coordinator of The CALL, a faithbased, nonprofit organization centered around finding foster homes for children across Arkansas.
“A lot of times, people are just absolutely astounded by current numbers. It blows them away that they didn’t know it was going on in their community,” Wright said.
Arkansas is in a state of crisis, as far as the number of children in
foster care and the number of available foster homes, according to The CALL.
Its statistics show there are more than 5,000 children in foster care and fewer than 2,000 foster homes within the state of Arkansas.
The CALL is a Christian-based organization that began 10 years ago in Pulaski County, later becoming a statewide organization operating in 44 counties across Arkansas.
Today, it partners with churches throughout the state and the Arkansas Department of Children and Family Services to find Christian homes in the community for children in the foster care system.
The CALL will hold its quarterly general meeting from 7-8 p.m. Tuesday in the Student Lounge of Lake Valley Community Church.
“Our mission is to educate, equip and encourage the Christian community to provide a future and a hope for children in foster care in Arkansas,” Wright said.
The partnership with DCFS is meant to help the department with its already high-traffic, stressful jobs. The CALL offers encouragement and support those working at DCFS.
“We’re not there to fix anything, we’re not there to necessarily do their job or tell them how to do it, because we’re not in any position to do so. We’re there to support them, because we feel their jobs are very important to our community and to the welfare (of children in foster care),” she said.
The CALL is centered around Christian core values, so its members thought it would be best to team up with area churches to persuade good, Christian families to open their homes to foster children, or support those that do.
According to its website, the eventual goal is to operate in all 75 counties in the state, ensuring that a child who goes into the system will find a welcoming foster home in their own community. It also states that families recruited by The CALL make up over half of all foster families in Arkansas.
“At the end of the day, children in foster care isn’t a state issue, it’s a church issue, ‘cause these are God’s kids. We are called to take care of each other,” Wright said.
They work diligently to keep area churches and the community informed about the current need of children in foster care, as well as the needs of the family fostering children.
They ensure that churches have all the necessary information needed to support foster and adoptive families. According to Wright, some children coming into the system may have behavioral, mental or physical issues that make it difficult for them to transition into foster care.
The organization set a goal last year to have seven families open their homes to foster children within a year, and raise
$12,000 by this year. The community’s willingness to support them far surpassed any expectations, and they have opened
15 homes in 15 months, as well as nearly doubled their goal for raising funds.
Currently, there are between five to
10 families going through the process of opening their homes to foster children. Wright said it isn’t about more families faster, but better families that will last longer.
Tuesday’s meeting is a general meeting open to the community. The organization plans to solidify the dates of upcoming events, and share recent progress with the community.
There will be another meeting on Sept. 19, open to those interested in volunteering and possibly becoming foster families. It will start at 6 p.m. and go until 9 p.m. at Lake Valley Community Church.
Dinner and child care will be provided at the September meeting, but Wright asks any interested parties to register online prior to the meeting.
To find out more information, and register for the September meeting, visit http://www.thecallinarkansas.org/garlandhot-spring-events/.