LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT/KATV) - State officials said Wednesday that the Arkansas Department of Human Services has seen improvements in its child welfare services after an overhaul of the system was requested in 2015.
According to a report from Little Rock television station KATV, half of the recommendations have been completed so far with state officials saying work has been done.
The system had nearly 5,200 children in foster care in 2016, with the number dropping to 5,035. The number of foster homes in the state has gone up by nearly 300 in the past year, while the number of children placed with relatives has gone up from 23 to 29%, KATV reported.
In a media release, DHS Director Cindy Gillespie said the work that has been done is appreciated by people around the state.
"What they've done has not been easy, and some people may have given up when obstacles got in their way, but not Mischa (Martin, Director of Division of Children and Family Services) and her team," Gillespie said in a statement. "That's because they have a true calling to help the children and families we serve. I am so thankful for all they accomplished, and for how other DHS divisions stepped up and worked side-by-side with them to make positive changes."
Gillespie also thanked Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the state legislature and several church and community groups for helping the child welfare system meet its goals.
In the statement, Gillespie said state officials plan to train, hire and retain staff members; hope to reduce caseload as well as provide stability in the homes where children are placed as goals.
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