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Governor Sanders' working group presents recommendations to fix foster care system

Governor Sanders issued an executive order in February to fix the foster care system in Arkansas. Now, the state will begin to implement these recommendations.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — After months of collaboration, there are now new recommendations to help fix the foster care system in Arkansas.

This is all a part of the Governor's executive order that was issued in February. She called for a working group to come up with solutions for some of our most vulnerable.

Christie Erwin is the executive director of Project Zero, an organization that works with foster kids to help them find families of their own. 

Erwin explained that there are more than 4,000 kids in foster care, and 289 of those are waiting to be adopted.

In February, Governor Sanders made an executive order to create a working group to come up with recommendations to clean up the foster care system. She also created Every Child Arkansas to help families who want to foster get more information and resources.

More than 100 people made up the subcommittees that created the 11 recommendations.

Those recommendations are listed below:

Recommendation 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.

Recommendation 2: Reduce family barriers to accessing existing public assistance programs.

Recommendation 3: Continue development and expansion of models that have a strong evidence base for primary prevention and reducing poor outcomes, such as maltreatment.

Recommendation 4: Make crisis response services and associated support services more accessible for families or youth in crisis.

Recommendation 5: Create a cross-agency coordination team to support key stakeholder groups in the development and implementation of 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.

Recommendation 6: Strengthen the DCFS workforce.

Recommendation 7: Expand team-based approaches to collaboratively support families through court proceedings and associated case plans.

Recommendation 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.

Recommendation 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.

Recommendation 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.

Recommendation 11: Redesign the training model and requirements for foster parents and DCFS staff.

"That's really what it's about is really making that cross-collaboration happen and then filling in what are we missing. Where are we missing to get to these children to serve them and serve their family unit if possible," said Department of Human Services Director Tiffany Wright.

Now, DHS will look to implement the recommendations through state and non-profit work around Arkansas.

For more info on the recommendations, click here.

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