There are over five-thousand children in the foster care system in Arkansas — an all time high for the state. One children’s shelter in the River Valley is providing a temporary home for those kids who need it most. 

The Children’s Emergency Shelter achieved a milestone today. 

CES has devoted twenty years to giving children in Fort Smith a new shot at life. 

“We take for granted a lot of things these children have never had,” Executive Director of CES Jack Moffitt said. 

The Children’s Emergency Shelter opened their doors in 1997. 

It has been serving abused and neglected children in Arkansas ever since. 

“They teach you rules and regulations,” Former CES Resident Jonathan Turner said. “That’s the structure I didn’t have growing up as a kid. I’d be alongside my dad in jail, so coming here was a big change in my life.”

United States Senator Tom Cotton spoke at the event to emphasize the second chance these children deserve. 

“They are born into families where their parents have abandoned them and neglected them,” United States Senator Tom Cotton said. “They deserve someone to take care of them in moments of pain and suffering the shelter is there to take them in. It’s a great story and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Tackling this crisis may be overwhelming. 

“Sometimes we get stuck in our own little bubble and forget that this is the largest percentage of foster youth in the whole state is right here,” Director of Development at CES Ashley Olert said.

But the shelter is focused on saving one child’s life at a time. 

“We try to focus on the individual of each of the kids not try to turn it into a numbers game,” Moffitt said. “They are already a number to a lot of people so here we just want them to be children.”

In twenty years, the CES has served almost four-thousand children. 

The shelter plans to continue expanding with the community’s support.