Answering The CALL in the River Valley
A year ago, Desiree Bryan and her family began the process to adopt a child. Today they plan to move a 10-year-old boy into their home within the next month and adopt him within the next six months.
Bryan said every step of the way The CALL, a faith-based nonprofit with the goal of recruiting and supporting Arkansas adoptive and foster families, was there to help the family.
“So, they were always there to walk me through the process of what steps were going to happen and what to anticipate,” Bryan said.
The CALL partners with area churches to inform people about fostering and adopting children, said Meg Scott, the regional director for The CALL in the River Valley. The group supports efforts in Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Scott, Pope and Yell counties.
“So, we just work hand in hand with the churches to support those families that have opened,” Scott said.
The CALL is located in 53 of the 75 Arkansas counties. On Nov. 5, the Paris Area Chamber of Commerce celebrated a ribbon cutting and open house for The Call of the River Valley to offer tours and information on ways to help foster children in need. Some of those needs services include offering volunteers, placement, warm food and clean clothes.
Scott said one of the misconceptions surrounding foster care is that because the families receive a subsidy and are self-sufficient. That is not the case.
To help families, The CALL provides blessing baskets that contain household items and paper goods. The nonprofit also gives monthly freezer meals, babysitting services and even oil changes for the routine driving required. The CALL also directs 30 hours of state-required trainings for families who want to foster.
Kids in need
In Franklin, Johnson, Logan and Scott counties, there are 174 kids in foster care and about 35 homes open to them.
“You can obviously just look at those numbers and see that we are in crucial need for foster and adoptive families,” Scott said.
In Crawford and Sebastian counties there are 53 foster homes recruited by The CALL and 630 children in care, said Emily Treadaway, the coordinator for those counties.
“Just the general public doesn’t realize how many kids we have and how great the need is,” Treadaway said.
Crawford and Sebastian counties consistently have the most children in foster care in the state.
Because of this, Treadaway said her mission will always include recruiting families to foster. In some counties they’re able to get to a place where they have enough families to support the kids in the system. But that’s not something possible for Crawford and Sebastian counties.
“So, we’ll constantly be recruiting families,” Treadaway said.
Bridging the gap
Nationally, more than half of families will quit fostering children after their first year, Scott said. This is because of a lack of support. That’s where The CALL aims to help.
The CALL aims to bridge the gap between the state and the church.
“We really just want to be a tool for the church and equip the church,” said Michelle Douglas, The CALL’s program director.
The CALL started in 2006 in Pulaski County when a group of believers banded together to make a difference.
“We know that there’s a need. We know that there’s a crisis here,” Scott said was the thought process of those initial organizers.
The CALL does not receive any money from state or federal funding and operates exclusively through private donations, Treadaway said.