LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) — The Arkansas Department of Human Services announced on Monday (Nov. 14) that it will be tackling a crisis in the state’s foster care system.
There are currently about 5,200 children in the foster care system, which has grown about 30 percent over the last year. DHS told KTHV that the problem stems from difficulties getting children out of foster care, placing them with relatives and with foster care workers getting burned out.
However, DHS released phase one of a plan, called “Moving Beyond Crisis,” to tackle the issues. DHS officials are hopeful that the program will stabilize the foster care system within a year.
DHS is taking several big steps, including streamlining the process to become a foster care parent so it’s quicker and easier, as well as trying to add an extra 100 foster homes to the system by August.
DHS is also hoping to increase the number of children placed with family members. Currently the state places around 25 percent of children with relatives, but they are hoping to bump that number up to 29 percent, which is the national average.
To help combat high turnover rates and increase the experienced caseworkers, DHS will also try to increase the salaries of caseworkers as well as employ more people to answer after hours calls, KTHV reported. DHS is also looking into creating a texting system that will let caseworkers reach out to all foster care families at once, as opposed to placing individual calls.
To read more about the DHS Foster Care System on our affiliate KTHV, click here.