State, partner organizations launch new foster care effort called ‘Every Child Arkansas’

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 2,168 views 

The state of Arkansas announced Tuesday (Feb. 28) a new partnership between nearly 30 organizations that will work together to bring a technology-focused, digital marketing approach to recruiting and supporting foster parents.

The strategic partnership, Every Child Arkansas, was formally unveiled at a press conference with Gov. Sarah Sanders.

“Every child is a special gift from God. The cycle of neglect that far too often plagues our foster care system is the opposite of pro-life and pro-family. Today, we’re taking steps to end that tragic cycle,” Sanders said. “For the first time in Arkansas history, we’ve gathered more than two dozen of the foremost groups that support foster care, both public and private. We’re ready and united to tackle this problem head-on.”

Every Child Arkansas builds on years of community mobilization aimed at supporting foster families and children in Arkansas and ensuring that there are enough families available to provide for children in need. The initial goals of Every Child Arkansas are to recruit new foster families, increase the reunification rates of families whose children are removed from the home, and mobilize advocates, churches, and other organizations to support children and youth impacted by foster care and the foster families who care for them.

“We’re thrilled to announce an initiative to work toward the goal of having more than enough foster families throughout Arkansas for children in foster care to have an ideal placement,” said Phillip Goad, Ph.D., chair of the Every Child Arkansas Executive Leadership Council. “We believe that this historic public-private partnership is going to have a tremendous positive impact on children and families across the state.”

The new collaboration creates a partner to previous efforts called “The Contingent.” It will specialize in recruiting volunteers and foster parents via digital marketing and customer service strategies utilizing high-tech tools. The Contingent first piloted and launched this approach in Oregon in 2015, where they increased inquiries from potential foster parents from 139 in its first year to over 2,000 per year from 2020-2022.

“Every Child Arkansas is bringing foster care recruitment to the digital age,” said Mischa Martin, Deputy Director of Children and Youth at the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). “This effort will bring everyone together – our incredible Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) staff within DHS and our amazing child welfare placement partners – for a focused approach to recruit and support foster parents. Every Child Arkansas can add so much more to what we’re already doing and help us reach more families in new and innovative ways.”

Every Child Arkansas’s strategies include:

  • A robust, statewide digital advertising campaign also launched today, with the goal of inspiring Arkansans to learn more and sign up at everychildarkansas.org.
  • Once someone signs up, they receive an email and phone call to learn more about fostering or volunteering to support children and families.
  • Based on their interests, people will be directed to an Every Child Arkansas member organization that is active in their community and provided opportunities to support the work of the organization in a variety of tangible ways.
  • Every Child Arkansas’ customer service center will regularly call volunteers and foster parents with guidance and support. This engagement strategy has shown success in volunteers becoming foster parents and helping support and retain these families.

Every Child Arkansas builds on a partnership involving the following 27 organizations and agencies:

Arkansas Department of Human Services
Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services
Arkansas Family Alliance
Bethany Christian Services
The CALL
CarePortal
CASA
Children’s Homes, Inc
CityChurch Network
CityServe
COMPACT
Connected Foster Care & Adoptions
The Contingent
For the Sake of One
Foster Love
Free Will Baptist Family Ministries
Harding University
Healing Waters Outreach Center
Immerse
Methodist Family Health
Project Zero
Restore Hope Arkansas
Safe Babies Court Team
Second Chance Youth Ranch
Southern Christian Children’s Homes
Sparrow’s Promise
Together We Foster