LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT/TALK BUSINESS & POLITICS) - There has been nearly a 15% drop in the number of children in foster care in the state of Arkansas in the past two years, with officials saying needed reforms helped to make the difference.
According to a report from content partner Talk Business & Politics, the number went from 5,196 in late 2016 to 4,471 now. Officials had expected the number to increase to 5,800 by August 2017 but said work to strengthen families, improving the foster care system and helping the state’s Division of Children and Family Services was three areas of improvement that officials wanted to implement.
The percentage of foster children being placed with relatives increased from 23 to 27% during the same period, while 88% of children placed with relatives or so-called “fictive kin” stayed in one home during their time in foster care from Jan. 2014 until June 2017.
Among the other items found in an Arkansas Department of Human Services report, they include:
· The caseload for foster care workers went from 28 to 20.
· The number of overdue child maltreatment investigations went from 721 in 2016 to 94 in Aug. 2018.
· The number of children under the age of 12 who live in group homes fell from 186 to 67 from Aug. 2016 to Aug. 2018.
Lauri Currier, who serves as executive director of the CALL, a Christian organization that helps to recruit foster and adoptive families, told Talk Business & Politics that the report was impressive but the need for parents is always crucial.
“I’m still beating the drum that we still need foster families to step forward to care for these kids, and we basically need foster families for kids between the ages of 6 and 18,” Currier said.