New law allows plans for children's shelter to move forward

New law allows plans for children's shelter to move forward

SHARP COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Plans to open a new children's shelter in Sharp County are moving forward after a bill to help fund it was signed into law this week.

House Bill 1849 became Act 893 Monday when Governor Asa Hutchinson signed it into law.

Deanna Jones was in Little Rock with the governor when he signed it.

"It was very exciting," Jones said.

That law secures funding for group foster homes like the one Jones hopes to open soon by giving them a boarding payment for each kid like regular foster homes get.

State Representative Scott Baltz from Pocahontas sponsored the bill.

He said it gives organizations like the one Jones has founded, called Roots to Wings Children's Center, a safety net.

"The group up in Sharp County is an amazing group," Baltz said. "But with the state of Arkansas through procurement procedures, they had to come in there and basically buy a house, get it all done, and then not really know if they were going to be funded."

The act states that lawmakers understand there are not enough foster homes in each county for the number of children who are in care.

This bill was meant to keep kids in the same community once they are in the Department of Human Services' custody.

Jones first decided to open a shelter when she saw foster children at her church being moved away from their homes.

"So I started thinking well how terrible would that be to not only be uprooted from your family but to be uprooted from your school, your friends, your city, your home and everything," Jones said. "And so I started checking on what it would take and if the county officials and law enforcement could see a need for that here in this county and they all said that they definitely could."

Now that she knows the funding will be provided, Jones and her board are looking for a place in Sharp County to open the shelter.

"We're in the process to secure property to either build on or a home that we can go in and make some modifications to," Jones said. "We're also in the process of raising funds."

Next week, the organization will have a fund set up at First Community Bank for anyone who would like to make donations. They are also in the process of filing their paperwork to become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

"We want the entire community to be involved in this because this is something that everybody can be a part of," Jones said. "Even if maybe you can't give financially, you can come mow grass, plant flowers, sponsor a room, help with laundry. There's a lot of things that will help the whole community be involved with it."

Jones said they will have a Roots to Wings Facebook page established soon so everyone can stay up to date with their progress.

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