The Curt, Cliff and Opal Young Children’s Home in Fort Smith is in need of more foster parents. The nonprofit organization will begin a training session on Saturday, Aug. 14, to teach interested families how to care for foster children.
These classes happen every 12 weeks. After the training, the family may be licensed to foster children.
The Young Homes, which includes four cottages at Chaffee Crossing in Fort Smith, is owned and operated by Arkansas True Vision Children’s Homes. Since its start in 2018, The Young Homes has helped around 253 children.
“We have an emergency shelter here, so we help DCFS place kids that have just recently come into care or have stepped down from an acute placement so they can find a more permanent placement,” Deborah Christian, administrator of Young Homes said.
They also license foster homes and currently have three foster homes on their campus and two off-campus sites. The Heart Cottage, one of the children’s homes, provides emergency care for up to nine children. The other three cottages (Soul, Mind, and Strength) are “family style” with trained house parents and case managers who can care for up to eight or nine siblings in each home. Christian said they are always looking for new foster families to add to their facility.
“There’s a great need in Arkansas for foster parents,” Christian said.
The next training that will be held on Aug. 14 will provide people who are interested in being foster parents with the information needed to be good at what they do. Along with the training, there will be a home study that will record the family’s social history and make sure the home is adequate to house the children.
For people who are considering being foster parents, Christian urges that everyone in the family be on board.
“If they are married, or have children, that really needs to be a decision the whole family makes,” Christian said. “Fostering affects everyone, not just the child brought into the home.”
She also said that foster parents need to be “long on patience and long on love.”
“Kids come in with all types of trauma and we typically don’t know half of it. There are even gaps in the things that DHS finds out,” Christian said. “They need to learn to be the best advocate for the child they have in their care.”
Foster care in Arkansas
In July of 2021, there were 4,851 children in foster care in Arkansas. Currently, there are 1,585 foster homes throughout the state and DHS has a goal of 1,800 to cover the number of children coming into care.
Arkansas True Vision is a nonprofit organization affiliated with Family Ministries. ATV manages the Young Children’s Home in Fort Smith. The number of children in care at the Young Homes is as high as 32 daily. Their sister organizations include the Maggie House in Charleston and the Florence Crittenton Home in Little Rock.
The goal of Family Ministries Foster Care is to recruit, train and license foster homes in Western Arkansas. ATV will host an upcoming PRIDE class, which is required training for foster parents, that will start on Aug. 14.
For more information on becoming a foster parent, contact Bob Moody at 479-926-0794, Deborah Christian at 479-522-2020, or the Young Homes at 479-755-6513.