Number of kids in foster care spikes in Arkansas amid pandemic

Around Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK) — Since the beginning of this pandemic, Arkansas has seen a spike in kids entering the foster care system and not leaving.

According to the Division of Children and Family Services, 305 kids entered the foster care system in March and those numbers are continuing to rise.​

“It’s overwhelming to know that there’s that many kids coming into care that need homes,” said Dennis Berry, Foster parent.​

Foster families in Arkansas are feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, right at their front door.​

“Since March 15 I think we have had eight other children come and go through the house,” said Berry.​

Dennis Berry and his wife have two kids of their own and they’ve been taking in foster kids since 2008.​

While they took a short break from 2010 to 2015, they have still taken in around 85 kids.​

“How can you not say I’m willing to help when a child needs a safe place to go,” said Berry.​

Berry said normally they get calls for kids in Garland County but now they are getting calls for kids all around the natural state,​

“Normally you only get a few calls a month and now we are getting several calls each day,” said Berry.​

Reports from DCFS show this spike in the foster care system.​

From January to February there was a small spike then a large jump in March.​

While April reports are not complete, DCFS said the numbers continued to climb.​

“There’s families that were struggling before the crisis and this has only intensified some of those internal struggles they were feeling,” said Jill Bobo, Development Director of The CALL.​

Jill Bobo is the Development Director of The CALL, which is an organization that helps recruit, train, and support foster families.

Bobo said since the start of COVID-19 nearly 200 people have signed up to foster kids, to help compensate for the spike.​

“At a time when most people are closing their homes to protect their families we’re asking foster families to open their homes,” said Bobo.​

“There’s still kids that need a home, there’s still kids that need a safe place to go,” said Berry.​

On top of the increase in kids coming into foster care, DCFS reports March had the lowest amount of kids leaving the system in years.​

If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, click here.​

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