Ninety-three new Arkansas foster families from 32 counties participated in The CALL’s first online training recently to prepare to accept children removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect.


Since 2007, the faith-based nonprofit has helped 2,400 families open their homes to foster or adopt through the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS).


The CALL recruits, trains and supports foster and adoptive families in 52 counties, according to a news release.


With face-to-face trainings cancelled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus, The CALL quickly organized an online virtual training. A total of 176 individuals participated. The CALL usually trains an average of 75 families per month.


On March 21, USA Today reported that experts were concerned that the number of abused and neglected children would rise as the stress of isolation and economic strain affects the stability of families. Over the past few years, the child welfare system has moved from crisis to stability. A rising number of children in care could stress that delicate balance, according to the release.


Many open foster homes are full. More homes will be needed if there is an increase in the number of children and teens in care. To ensure foster families are properly prepared to open their homes, The CALL staff and volunteers, in cooperation with their DCFS partners, developed the required training online. Completing this training will move families one step closer to opening their homes.


“It is wonderful that The CALL has developed this online training so that we can continue our journey to become foster parents amid the crisis,” prospective foster parents from Saline County said. “And the bonus was that we did it all from the comfort of our home.”


The CALL volunteers made gift baskets for the families with goodies they would need during the 30-hour training such as snacks, pens and paper, training packets and even some home-baked goods for the entire family.


Lauri Currier is the executive director for The CALL.


“At The CALL, we value innovation,” she said. “It is a significant part of our organizational culture. Our team realized that if we do not train families during the COVID-19 health emergency, we would fall behind in helping DCFS open foster homes. I am thankful for our trainers and other volunteers who made foster parent training a reality this past weekend. This is one more way that The CALL shows our commitment to kids in care.”


To learn more about The CALL, visit TheCALLinArkansas.org or facebook.com TheCALLinAR.