TEXARKANA, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – There’s a foster care crisis in our area, according a non-profit group dedicated to placing children in safe homes. Representatives with Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries (Arkansas Families) said the number of kids in need of safe homes in southwest Arkansas is greater than the number of those homes available.
Kellea Baker first became a foster parent three years ago, when her son said he wanted a baby brother.
“He didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to see these little kids come in and cry for their moms, regardless of why they were taken, that was all they knew, and he said it was extremely sad to him,” said Baker.
Since then, Baker says her family has fostered and adopted many children.
“We realized such a need with these kids that are coming from a home that is unlike what I would have ever imagined,” said Baker. “I clearly have lived in a bubble my entire life.”
In Miller County, there are about 80 children in need of foster care and only about seven homes available, according to Arkansas Families. And they said it’s a similar situation in counties across southwest Arkansas.
“The need is outweighing the resources at the moment,” said Joshua Townsend, Arkansas Families.
To help meet that need, the organization is expanding its foster care program in the area. It’s a private, licensed placement service that works with the Arkansas Department of Human Services to keep kids in the community.
“We don’t want to remove them and take them to a different county, a different part of the state,” said Townsend. “We want them to stay as connected as humanly possible to their environment.”
The group recruits foster families through churches.
“They can already have children, some single parents who do foster care, that doesn’t matter,” said Vicki Wickliffe, Arkansas Families. “It just matters that you’re ready to help a child, give a child a happy home.”
And ready to make a lifelong difference in a child’s life.
“That was our job as foster parents,” said Baker. “To love these kids and show them that love. That they may never see again.”
If you’d like to learn more about the organization or how to become a foster parent, visit https://arkansasfamilies.org or call (870) 648-3050.