The CALL of Garland and Hot Spring counties plans to host an event titled The CALL Encounter, with the goal of raising awareness of the need for more foster families in the area.
The CALL Encounter will take place at 6 p.m. Sunday at Lake Valley Community Church, 910 Shady Grove Road. The free public event will provide information about the need for foster families in the community and how to get involved.
"We are always looking for ways to increase awareness about the foster care crisis across the state," Tonya Ross, county coordinator for The CALL of Garland and Hot Spring counties, said.
"So, we are hoping that this will be a time that families can come. It's a community event, so other churches are invited. But, we can spend some time in prayer, in worship about the foster care crisis."
Although the event is being held at Lake Valley Community Church, other church denominations and individuals are welcome, as well, she said. Attendees will hear testimonials from a foster family, an adopted family and a former child in foster care who is now in college.
"We're just gonna have a time that we can share the message and hopefully, everyone can think about, you know, what God has laid on their heart. Because we know that everybody has something that they can do," Ross said.
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"(It) may not be fostering. It may not be adopting, but there's always a way that someone can participate through advocating for children, support, financial donations, whatever it is that they feel is their calling and whatever it is that God has laid on their heart," she said.
This will be the first time The CALL of Garland and Hot Spring counties has ever held this event. On a trip to the Christian Alliance for Orphans conference, staff members from The CALL heard about it from another organization from another state and decided to modify it to hold it locally, she said.
With the goal of addressing the foster home crisis in Garland and Hot Spring counties, Ross said she hopes this event leads to the area gaining "more than enough foster homes."
"We would love to have more than enough, so that every child that comes into foster care doesn't just get a foster home that answers the phone, but the right foster home for them," she said. "So that DCFS, when they're looking at this specific child, this age, what they're interests are, that they can find the best foster home for their needs."
In Garland and Hot Spring counties, there are more than 260 children in foster care, but fewer than 80 foster homes, she said.
"So that means that children are being moved out of county," Ross said.
"They have no surroundings. They're being moved out of touch with their biological families, with their friends, with their school district, with their teachers.
"So my prayer out of this event is that we have increased the awareness and that we get to a point that we have more than enough homes for the children that are in our community," she said.