GARLAND COUNTY, Ark. — Earlier this week, the Department of Human Services outlined 11 recommendations to improve the foster care system in Arkansas in response to Governor Sanders’ Executive Order 23-18 to protect children, support families, and improve the foster care system in Arkansas.
Nonprofits across the state and nation are also working to improve the foster care system, including the Call and the Christian Alliance for Orphans.
Tonya Ross is the Garland County Coordinator for “The Call.” An organization working to help the foster care system through the mission to educate, equip, and encourage the Chrisitan community to provide a future and a hope for children in foster care in Arkansas.
“We just live in a broken world,” Ross said.
Ross says it’s going to take collaboration to solve the problems she sees. Expanding team-based approaches to collaboratively support families through court proceedings and associated case plans is one of the 11 recommendations.
“There are just so many ways families are struggling and unfortunately children suffer those consequences,” Ross said.
Another recommendation is to strengthen the DCFS workforce, an organization ‘The Call’ works with daily.
Ross says group support wasn’t readily available when she and her husband first started fostering, but now through efforts on all levels, more support is there and has kept them going overtime.
“It’s what has helped us continue to foster for 10 years,” Ross said.
Ross also works with the Christian Alliance for Orphans that connects foster families, organizations, and churches, that Ross says all care about vulnerable children.
After attending a summit last week, she says she brought back knowledge to Arkansas, after visiting with foster families and organizations across the country.
Jedd Medefind, President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, says that sharing experiences helps better prepare foster families to care for kids. He says that some looking at statistics can be discouraging, but there is hope.
“What we see is there is one statistic that matters more than any other and that is that it just takes a single caring adult to make a lifelong difference for children and so every one of us can play a part of that,” Medefind said.
He says foster families and organizations coming together is important.
“These families need support, they need community,” Medefind said.
Both Medefind and Ross say the efforts made on all levels are encouraging and a step in the right direction for the children within foster care, but there is always more work to be done.
Ross will be participating in working groups within the state with a goal in mind of
“They are worth it, and we have to stick with it, we have to,” Ross said.
You can find the full list of recommendations online.