Number of foster children down, specific home needs still not met

Number of foster kids going down

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Although the number of foster homes in Region 8 has increased over the past year, there are still specific fostering needs that are still not met.

A post has been spread across Facebook recently about the Arkansas Foster Care System being in a crisis situation with about 700 more kids in care than last year.

The news article being shared, though, was originally published in 2016 and has been recirculating for some reason.

The numbers in it are not accurate, according to the Department of Human Services Area 8 Resource Supervisor Tracy Holloway.

The difference is good, though, because the number of children in foster care in Northeast Arkansas is actually down right now from last year.

"Area 8 right now currently has about 528 children in foster care," Holloway said. "We've decreased our numbers significantly."

And the number of foster homes has increased. There are now 254 foster homes in the area.

"The partnerships with organizations like Christians 4 Kids and ABC Connected in our area have been helpful in recruiting and retaining our foster parents and we are very thankful for those partnerships," Holloway said.

There are a few factors that dictate how many children are in care at any given time, but Holloway said they have been able to place more kids with family or close family friends who can provide a safe environment rather than putting them in state custody.

"It's less trauma to children if they can be placed initially with a relative or someone that they have a strong connection with," Holloway said.

These numbers are encouraging but there are still needs within our area that are not being met.

"We are doing targeted recruitment right now," Holloway said. "We are specifically recruiting for ages 6 and older. Our population in area 8 of children in that 6 to 18 age range is about 318 children, so more than half of our children are 6 to 18. We do not have a lot of homes that will take children those ages, and we also have a huge need for sibling group placements. It's very important to keep our sibling groups together so they can grow up together until they can be reunified with their biological parents."

If someone is interested in becoming a foster parent, Holloway said they can find information at www.fosterarkansas.org or call her at 870-598-2282 ext. 115.

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