NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — More and more foster kids are finding families in Arkansas and that progress looks to continue with an organization that’s expanded to Northwest Arkansas to help facilitate adoptions.

After remaining stagnant for months, the number of Arkansas foster kids waiting for a permanent home recently dropped from 349 to 298.

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“We didn’t give up. With everything that has been going on in the world, we continued fighting for these kids and reaching out to families and still raising awareness,” Tiphanie Gurwell with Project Zero said.

Gurwell works with Project Zero, which works with the division of children and family services to help find families for eligible foster kids.

“On the flip side we still have 298. We can get a group of kids to find permanency and then we get another group of kids whose parental rights have been terminated and so then we’re right back up,” Gurwell said.

While she says this decline is promising, this fluctuation points to the need for more families to open their homes, a big reason why Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries has expanded its reach to Northwest Arkansas.

“We are trying to make it as simple and as straightforward as possible to empower families to step up and able-bodied to be able to step into this area of ministries,” Somer Colbert with Arkansas Baptist said.

Its connected foster care division has partnered with the three Cross Church locations in our region to recruit prospective parents.

“Numerically speaking if 1% of our Cross Church families steps up to serve in this area, we can double the number of families serving in the state of Arkansas alone,” Colbert said.

The private foster care provider will train local families so they’ll be able to open their homes to foster kids and teens, another way of connecting the 298 kids still waiting with a potential family as progress continues to be made to get that number down to zero.

“We would much rather have families waiting for a kid than kids waiting for a family,” Gurwell said.