27 organizations partner to create Every Child Arkansas to pair foster children with families

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Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 7:54 PM CST
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KSLA) - On Feb. 28, Arkansas announced a new partnership with over two dozen organizations that will work together to bring focus to recruiting and supporting foster parents.

The partnership, Every Child Arkansas, was unveiled at a press conference with Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“Every child is a special gift from God. The cycle of neglect that far too often plagues our foster care system is the opposite of pro-life and pro-family. Today, we’re taking steps to end that tragic cycle,” Governor Huckabee Sanders said.

“For the first time in Arkansas history, we’ve gathered more than two dozen of the foremost groups that support foster care, both public and private. We’re ready and united to tackle this problem head-on.”

Phillip Goad, Chair of Every Child Arkansas Executive Leadership Council, believes the partnership will have a positive effect for children and families.

“We’re thrilled to announce an initiative to work toward the goal of having more than enough foster families throughout Arkansas for children in foster care to have an ideal placement. We believe that this historic public-private partnership is going to have a tremendous positive impact on children and families across the state,” Goad said.

Every Child Arkansas builds on years of community mobilization aimed at supporting foster families and children in Arkansas and ensuring that there are enough families available to provide for children in need. The initial goals of Every Child Arkansas are to recruit new foster families, increase the reunification rates of families whose children are removed from the home, and mobilize advocates, churches, and other organizations to support children and youth impacted by foster care and the foster families who care for them.

Mischa Martin, Deputy Director of Children and Youth at the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), says the partnership can help expand information to more families.

“Every Child Arkansas is bringing foster care recruitment to the digital age. This effort will bring everyone together – our incredible Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) staff within DHS and our amazing child welfare placement partners – for a focused approach to recruit and support foster parents,” Martin said.

“Every Child Arkansas can add so much more to what we’re already doing and help us reach more families in new and innovative ways.”

Every Child Arkansas is a ground-breaking collaboration between DCFS and a network of nonprofit partners across the state, which are welcoming a new partner to the mix: The Contingent. The non-profit specializes in recruiting volunteers and foster parents via digital marketing and world-class customer service strategies utilizing high-tech tools. The Contingent first piloted and launched this approach in Oregon in 2015, where they increased inquiries from potential foster parents from 139 in its first year to over 2,000 per year from 2020-2022.

Every Child Arkansas’ strategies include:

  • A robust, statewide digital advertising campaign also launched today, with the goal of inspiring Arkansans to learn more and sign up at everychildarkansas.org.
  • Once someone signs up, they receive an email and phone call to learn more about fostering or volunteering to support children and families.
  • Based on their interests, people will be directed to an Every Child Arkansas member organization that is active in their community and provided opportunities to support the work of the organization in a variety of tangible ways.
  • Every Child Arkansas’s world-class customer service center will regularly call volunteers and foster parents with guidance and support. This proven engagement strategy greatly inspires volunteers to become foster parents and helps support and retain these families.

Every Child Arkansas builds on a strong partnership involving the following 27 organizations and agencies:

  • Arkansas Department of Human Services
  • Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services
  • Arkansas Family Alliance
  • Bethany Christian Services
  • The CALL
  • CarePortal
  • CASA
  • Children’s Homes, Inc
  • CityChurch Network
  • CityServe
  • COMPACT
  • Connected Foster Care & Adoptions
  • The Contingent
  • For the Sake of One
  • Foster Love
  • Free Will Baptist Family Ministries
  • Harding University
  • Healing Waters Outreach Center
  • Immerse
  • Methodist Family Health
  • Project Zero
  • Restore Hope Arkansas
  • Safe Babies Court Team
  • Second Chance Youth Ranch
  • Southern Christian Children’s Homes
  • Sparrow’s Promise
  • Together We Foster

Jerome Strickland, executive director of The Contingent Arkansas, wants to ensure families and children fit well together.

“With a vision of more than enough for children and families before, during, and after foster care, this effort will focus on increasing recruiting new foster families, increasing retention of those families, and improving reunification rates of biological families,” Strickland said.

“We’re also focused on ensuring we have enough families from similar cultural backgrounds as the kids who need care and who are located in children’s existing neighborhoods and school areas.”

To learn more, visit everychildarkansas.org.

About Every Child Arkansas: Every Child Arkansas (ECA) is a network of advocates, agencies, faith-based organizations and other organizations working together in trust-building collaboration to fill the most significant gaps in caring for foster children and families in our state. ECA is united around a shared vision of “more than enough for children and families before, during and beyond foster care in every county in Arkansas.”