Native Arkansan Lauri Currier, executive director of Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime (The CALL) is all far too familiar with serving in foster care.  Her father, a former little rock physician, at the age of two, was placed in foster care along with his four brothers and sisters after being abandoned. 

 

Native Arkansan Lauri Currier, executive director of Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime (The CALL) is all far too familiar with serving in foster care.  Her father, a former little rock physician, at the age of two, was placed in foster care along with his four brothers and sisters after being abandoned. 
“The CALL began in 2007 in Pulaski County when Mary Carol Peterson, county coordinator, and her husband began to foster a young man and as a result they received multiple requests to foster other children,” Currier explained.  Currieradded that the need for foster families was greater than anticipated and Peterson decided to research the foster care system in the area.  Peterson began reaching out to the community, local churches and people of the community and “raised up” a large group of people who formed the CALL as it is known today. 
“Our mission is to educate, equip and encourage the Christian community to provide a future for foster care. Every year, between 6,000 and 7,000 children come through the foster care system. In Arkansas and we try to motivate people who are in the Christian community to step forward as foster parents or families,” stated Currier.
Currier feels that there are a lot of misunderstandings concerning foster children. 
“Children are put in foster care typically because their parents, for whatever reason, can no longer care for them.  Most cases are due to neglect, family incarceration, drug abuse or physical abuse,” Currier stated. 
According to Currier, children typically go to an emergency center or a rehabilitation facility and without a foster family available in that particular area, children are placed in other counties, adding insult to injury by taking them away from their familiar surroundings such as their schools, their home environment, and their friends. 
“This causes stress on an already stressed system,” commented Currier. “Our mission is to mobilize the Christian community to provide foster care for children by recruiting volunteers, trainers and social workers as a means of providing training and tools on a local level, hopefully throughout Phillips County as well,” explained Currier. 
Currier stressed that it is difficult and challenging at times but the blessings that come with foster care are incredible.
 “It isn’t a fairy tale because it’s not like you can do this good thing and expect it to be easy,” she said. “It can hurt.  Usually (unless adoption is in the picture) yours will not be the permanent family for these children. You know the foster child who comes in your door will one day have to leave and it will break your heart.  It requires sacrifice.  It takes time, love, patience, persistence, discipline and ingenuity every day to be a foster parent. However, your life is guaranteed not to be monotonous and mundane. On the contrary, it will be challenging, surprising and fulfilling.”
Currier commented that The CALL works with church families that they believe provide the support system that each foster family needs. 
“Currently there are about 1,200 foster families in Arkansas but there is a need for 2,400 foster families,” Currier continued. 
Currier stated that The CALL recognizes that not everyone can be a foster parent or a foster family. However there are 13 ways you can serve children in foster care:

1. Open your home and family to a child in foster care-there is a critical shortage of foster homes especially for teens and sibling groups

2. Adopt a child from foster care-more than 500 children in Arkansas are waiting for a forever family to adopt them.


3. Provide respite care to foster families-provide full-time foster families with a break by caring for foster children temporarily.

4. Serve as an emergency foster home-provide foster care for a child through short-term placements
5. Support a foster or adoptive family- become a foster family’s go to person for a meal, words of encouragement, prayer, a few hours of babysitting or other resources.

6. Perform home studies- licensed social workers are needed to perform home studies for families recruited by the CALL.  Donate your time and expertise.


7. Train CALL foster families-become a volunteer trainer to conduct a two weekend a month PRIDE trainings

8. PRAY! We believe that God is moving the CALL forward in many amazing ways! Visit our website to join the prayer team.


9. Spread the word about the need for foster and adoptive parents-educate your family, your friends neighbors about the CALL efforts

10. Support the CALL financially - The CALL depends solely on the financial support of individuals and churches


11. Volunteer! Use your spiritual gifts to care for an orphan-visit www.thecallinarkansas.org to learn how you can help the CALL and children in foster care.

12. Become a court appointed special advocate- provide a voice for children in foster care and make sure the children’s’ needs are being met.


13. Build a CALL mall- this is a special place where foster families can “shop” for items children’s clothing, toys, books, furniture, or car seats at no cost. Donations from local families are needed to stock the CALL Mall, and volunteers are needed to keep the store open.





For more information on how you can become a part of The CALL, or how you can become a foster family, contact Lauri Currier at 501-823-0607 or local CALL volunteer Mary Ned Foster at 870-338-1469