During this project, I gained a better understanding of what exactly keeps the foster care system running. I was surprised to learn just how much the state relied on outside groups for help.
As someone who has been involved in the foster care system for over a decade, I had known that organizations like The Call played an important role in some areas but I had no idea just how vital they are.
I was also intrigued to find out just how many of these organizations are faith-based. Whether they are helping bring people into the foster system, keep sibling groups together as they enter care, or providing a home for children who cannot be placed, these organizations often have a religious component.
Even though Arkansas has had its share of controversies regarding the separation of church and state, it was still nonetheless surprising.
For those who work with these organizations, however, it makes perfect sense. According to Diane Wright, County Coordinator for The Call in Garland County, faith and foster care go hand in hand. “It’s the church’s responsibility,” says Wright. Noth the state’s.”
This call felt by these organizations have helped to reduce the strain on the system in the state, making DHS happy to utilize them. While educating from a religious worldview, these trainings are often less stressful to families, more up to date, and take fewer days to complete, which in turn gives the state well-prepared families at a faster rate.
Along with a quicker turnaround on training, these organizations also help reduce turnover, working to make sure that families and state workers have the supplies they need to provide care.
While it may seem to run counter to the idea of the separation of church and state, as long as the state of Arkansas cannot provide everything that is needed, religious organizations will continue to play an important role in the welfare of the children in the foster care system.