For Immediate Release:
Sept. 1, 2021
Amy Webb, Chief of Communications
Gavin Lesnick, Deputy Chief of Communications
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — Hundreds of children and teens in Arkansas’s foster care system are waiting for a family to call their own, but the ongoing pandemic has caused delays and created barriers to adoption.
That’s why today the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in partnership with Project Zero launched the Every Day Counts campaign with a press conference featuring Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The three-month campaign is intended to bring attention to the need for adoptive families in Arkansas with monthly focuses leading up to National Adoption Month in November. It also highlights intensive efforts by DCFS and Project Zero to move children to permanency.
Today, nearly 350 children and teens in the state are waiting to be adopted. This number has increased over the last 18 months because these youths have not been able to be placed in permanent homes as quickly as before the pandemic.
Gov. Hutchinson noted that the new campaign will be an “intensive effort to try to match children with their forever families,” but that it will take more than just DCFS and Project Zero.
“It takes the families who can join this effort,” he said. “And so we’re asking families across Arkansas to take a look at themselves as to how they can be helpful. [DCFS and Project Zero] need families that are willing to adopt children who through no fault of their own don’t have a permanent home. Every day a child spends in foster care is a day too long.”
DHS already has identified 160 children who are close to being adopted and will be hyper-focused on moving those children through the process within the next three months. The state and its community partner, Project Zero, are calling on families to open their home and their heart and consider adoption.
The Every Day Counts campaign will include paid advertising, media appearances and other initiatives aimed at promoting adoption and helping children and teens find forever homes.
“Starting today, we will be hyper-focused on moving those children to stable, permanent homes through adoption,” said Mischa Martin, DCFS director. “Every day counts for these kids and every day a child deserves a safe stable nurturing loving permanent family. We need your help to make that happen. Please consider whether you are the one that makes the difference in a child’s or children’s lives and provides the love, support, care, and family that every child deserves.”
Project Zero Executive Director Christie Erwin said her organizations is aiming to get short films for all children and teens waiting to be adopted so that they can use their own voice to tell their stories.
“What if Arkansas was the first state to have no waiting kids,” Erwin said. “What if we had more families waiting to adopt than kids waiting to be adopted? What if for the next 91 days everybody in our state put a focus on these 349 kids and asked individually, ‘what part can I play and what can I do?’ So today, Project Zero and DCFS humbly asks you…to join us in this fight, to join us in advocating for our kids and helping them see how worth it they truly are.”