Last year, Governor Asa Hutchinson said the Arkansas foster care system was in a state of crisis. I wish I could write today and let you know how much better the situation is. But the fact is, we are losing ground.
More than 8,500 children entered the Arkansas foster care system this year. That’s up 10% since this time last year. That means 23 children were separated from their families. Every. Single. Day.
Through no fault of their own, everything they’ve ever known was changed in a moment. Removed from their families with nothing but the clothes on their back and maybe a few belongings in a black garbage bag.
But You Can Help.
I’m writing today to humbly ask for your help. Raising a child is no easy task, and not everyone can take in a foster child to meet this growing need. But you can support the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches as we care for these children as long as they need a place to call home.
As I write this update, there are 5,200 children in the foster care system in Arkansas. That is more children in foster care than at any other time in our state’s history. That is UP more than 800 children or 30% since this time last year!
Arkansas is also losing ground coming up with foster care beds to serve these children. The state added 285 new foster care beds this year. However, more than 800 children entered the system during that same time. As you can see, the Arkansas foster care crisis is far from over.
You’re probably asking yourself, “If there are more foster children than beds for them to sleep, where do the other children wind up?” Some are placed in crowded shelters. Others may wind up sleeping on a cot in their caseworker’s office. Or worse, some may even be left in an abusive home until a bed or a new foster parent becomes available.
The Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches Fighting Foster Care Crisis
One of our boys, we will call him Jacob, spent 90 days in an emergency shelter before being placed in a home at the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches. Jacob’s dad is in jail on a drug conviction, and his mother will not come back to Arkansas because there are warrants out for her arrest.
Before going to school that first morning, Jacob asked his houseparent if he should lock up his belongings. The houseparent put his arm around the boy and said, “No son, we aren’t that kind of place.”
At the Ranch, Jacob has found a safe, stable, and loving home for as long as he needs it. He won’t have to worry about where his next meal will come from or if his belongings will be pawned while he is at school.
You may see the number of foster children who need homes, and your heart breaks because you cannot be a foster parent yourself. But with your support, the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches are working very hard to care for as many of these children as we can. And with your support, we can care for even more in the future.
Some boys and girls come to the Ranch with nothing but a garbage bag full of old clothes and a broken heart. The need is incredible, and we hope that you will take action by supporting our mission to provide homes for these children.
YOU can give a child like Jacob a safe and stable home. YOU can give a child much more than a warm bed and three cafeteria-style meals a day. YOU can give them a second chance and hope for a brighter future.
Please consider how YOU can help fight the foster care crisis in Arkansas with a gift to the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches.
Our houseparents hear many heartbreaking stories from the boys and girls we serve, but hearing “thank you” from a child gives them hope to continue on! YOU can make that possible with a gift to the Ranches. I invite you to become a Hope Builder with a gift of as little as $10 a month. Click the monthly giving option on our giving page, and we will process your gift each month. It’s an easy, affordable, and secure way YOU can continue to fight the Arkansas foster care crisis.
Did you know that a monthly contribution of just $25 can provide:
• New shoes for up to six of our boys and girls
• A monthly allowance for one child
• Caps and gowns for all of our graduates
• Birthday gifts for 12 children
• Feed for our Rancher’s horses for one month