Gov. Asa Hutchinson will be in Hot Springs on Thursday to help Restore Hope Arkansas Inc. launch the initiative in Garland County to address prison recidivism and the child foster care crisis, and the associated issues they create.
Garland County is the third county in Arkansas to create an alliance under the nonprofit enterprise.
According to its website, Restore Hope Arkansas was created by Hutchinson in 2015 to bridge the gap between government services and communities struggling to reduce the rate of incarceration, to facilitate a successful re-entry from incarceration to freedom, and to reduce the number of children entering Arkansas' foster care system.
The organization began by creating alliances in White and Sebastian counties in 2017.
Dru Dodson, the Garland County coordinator for Restore Hope and a pastor at Lake Valley Community Church, said the purpose of the Restore Hope Alliance in Garland County is to bring together the leaders from three sectors of Hot Springs: the business sector, the nonprofit sector, and the government sector. Leaders from each of these sectors will create a partnership and work together to solve some of the more pressing problems of Hot Springs and Garland County.
"The governor's top two priorities are reducing the number of people either going to jail or returning, and reducing the number of children who have to go into the foster care program," Dodson said, though he added there are a host of other issues underneath those that also need to be addressed, like drug addiction and joblessness.
"Those two things are almost like the tip of a really big iceberg," he said.
Hutchinson is set to meet with the Garland County Restore Hope Alliance Board of Directors from 4-5 p.m. May 17, directly followed by the board's first meeting. The 24-member committee is chaired by state Rep. Les Warren, R-District 25, of Hot Springs.
"Garland County has some exceptional leaders who understand the cascading impact of crime, addiction, incarceration, foster care and unemployment on their existing economic development efforts. In fact, key leaders think they can develop and model collaborative solutions that other communities can adopt. You'll see a workforce development focus from the number of business executives on the alliance board. This team will also have a bias for action," a news release said.
The alliance board will meet often until it declares three goals that "move the needle," or make up at least 10 percent of the change in Garland County, then will move to quarterly meetings with project reports.
Restore Hope will provide tools to help the alliance create and execute plans to meet its goals, the release said.
"The job of this new board is that they will actually make real plans, real paths, and help groups and committees to execute them," Dodson said. "That will not be dictated by the governor or Restore Hope; that will be dictated by the Garland County board."Local on 05/13/2018