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Foster care working group released 11 recommendations to better Arkansas' foster care system

The foster care working group announced their 11 recommendations Monday for the improvement of Arkansas' foster care system.  (Photo KATV)
The foster care working group announced their 11 recommendations Monday for the improvement of Arkansas' foster care system. (Photo KATV)
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The foster care working group announced their 11 recommendations Monday for improving Arkansas' foster care system.

"I often say that Arkansas is the most pro-life state in the country ā€“ but the pro-life agenda doesnā€™t end once a child is born. Our foster care system has the potential to put every child in Arkansas in a safe, loving home, which is why I created a working group to make it even better," said Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "I applaud these advocates on their hard work and excellent proposals, and look forward to working with them to turn these recommendations into reality."

"This strategic plan takes a holistic approach to services as they currently exist, and applies new and innovative strategies to make a big difference much earlier for our children and families who need support,ā€ said DHS Secretary Kristi Putnam. "Ultimately, this will mean better outcomes for vulnerable children in our state. I am grateful to Gov. Sanders for initiating this important effort, thankful for those who worked together to develop these ideas, and excited to implement these new plans going forward."

Gov. Sarah Huckabee-Sanders signed an executive order establishing the Arkansas Strategic Plan for Foster Care Placement during a press conference in February.

"Every Child Arkansas is laser focused on ensuring that we have more than enough families to provide an ideal placement for all children in foster care," said Phillip Goad, Ph.D., chair of the Every Child Arkansas Executive Leadership Council. "We believe this strategic plan will help Arkansas make measured and meaningful improvements to the system as a whole, which will in turn bolster the available supports and services for children and families across this state. We are proud to play a role in developing this fresh and forward-thinking approach."

"The Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is incredibly grateful for the support we received from our partners, our fellow stakeholders, and other state agencies to develop these recommendations," said DCFS Director Tiffany Wright. "We cannot do this work alone, and it is inspiring to see so many colleagues and partners come together under the common goal of improving the lives of the children we serve in communities across the state."

The 11 recommendations are:

  1. Create a community resource model that provides virtual and in-person prevention support that uses a relationship-based approach to connect families and professionals to services and supports.
  2. Reduce family barriers to accessing existing public assistance programs.
  3. Continue development and expansion of models that have a strong evidence base for primary prevention and reducing poor outcomes, such as maltreatment.
  4. Make crisis response services and associated support services more accessible for families or youth in crisis.
  5. Create a cross-agency coordination team to support key stakeholder groups in developing and implementing high-quality trauma-informed care training for staff. Examples of stakeholders include, but are not limited to, child welfare, law enforcement, public safety, court system, and education.
  6. Strengthen the DCFS workforce.
  7. Expand team-based approaches to support families through court proceedings and associated case plans collaboratively.
  8. Implement ongoing, community-specific training for all parties involved in the child welfare system, including DCFS staff, CASA, attorneys, judges, CACD, MDT, law enforcement, and other agencies responding to neglect and abuse that addresses the difference between safety and risk and the implications of each.
  9. Continue to expand the use of private license agency foster homes and partner with Every Child Arkansas to implement a targeted marketing campaign for recruiting foster parents.
  10. Create and communicate a clear plan regarding access to information about the case for foster parents and strengthen overall support to foster homes to improve retention.
  11. Redesign the training model and requirements for foster parents and DCFS staff.

Read the full list of recommendations below:

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