State of the System

The Arkansas foster care system is in a state of crisis.

A record number of children in foster care, combined with a lack of personnel and foster homes, have pushed the system to the brink of disaster. According to the latest yearly statistical report published by the Arkansas Department of Human Services, nearly half the children in care are not placed in foster homes.

Because of the lack of foster homes and resources available to workers in the Division of Family and Children Services –the sub-department that handles foster care– many areas of the state are in need of help.

When elected as Governor of Arkansas in 2015, Asa Hutchinson made mending the system one of his top priorities. Since then, foster care has taken a top spot on the political agenda for many of the state’s leaders, with a $27 million budget increase proposed by the governor in 2016 to infuse the DHS with much-needed cash to hire more case workers and work to “stabilize” the crisis.

While the foster care system has been the subject of the new legislation and a topic covered in local and state media, much of the reporting either fails to go beyond surface-level issues or is formatted in a way that is not suited for the Internet. Because of this lack of depth and dense formatting, accessible information on the foster system can seem scarce or daunting.

This website intends to remedy this problem. Created as a project to look into the foster system, the goal is to present the issues behind the crisis and potential solutions in a way that is built for online consumption. Combining articles with multimedia elements, this website intends to cover the foster care system in a way that has not been done before. By looking at the crisis from the perspective of the state, the parents, and the children, this project presents the crisis from multiple angles, examining how problems in the foster care system affect the people involved.