I-TEAM: Family shares foster care story
JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - In 2020, there were over 170 foster family homes in Area 8 which includes Fulton, Izard, Sharp, Randolph, Lawrence, Clay, Greene, Craighead, and Mississippi Counties.
Now there are just over 150.
The main topic that many continued to stress as reporter Imani Williams looked into the foster care system in Arkansas was the need for more foster families and more homes.
The Wright family said they know they have to keep their doors open, because if they don’t that is just one less place for a child to go.
“There is just so much need that if we were to stop then we know that is just one less family that is out there for them for the foster kids,” said Jason Wright, a foster parent.
Jason and Tonya Wright began their journey as foster parents in 2012.
“When we first started we said we would take one child and we’ll take it slow and easy. But that is not the case,” said Tonya Wright, a foster parent.
It’s something they did not know too much about but felt called to do.
“There is joy, heartbreak, and there is anger at times. We call on God to get us through it,” said Tonya.
Once the couple started to foster, they saw how much of a need there was across the state and in Area 8.
“It’s so important that they have somewhere that they can go that they feel safe, that they have food that they have access to and they can have a safe bed,” she said.
In just those counties, data shows over 400 children are in foster care with less than 160 homes available for them to be placed in.
“Like she said, we’ve had 42 kids but if we could have taken them it could have been triple or quadruple that because we get calls every day from D-H-S wanting us to take a child,” said Jason. “But we just don’t have the beds for it.”
In 2014, only two years after the Wright’s opened their home to foster care a sweet two-year-old changed their lives.
“He tottled in at 2 years old and just stole our hearts. He walked straight up to me and said ‘Hello Daddy where is my room’,” the couple explained.
Michael entered their home as a foster kid when he was just two, now he is eleven, but no longer within the foster care system.
“The day that we got to adopt him was one of the most joyous and saddest days ever. While we are excited about us and Michael we also mourn the family that had a loss for that day,” said Tonya.
“It will be really important because I probably wouldn’t be here. I probably wouldn’t have any of my friends I have right now. I wouldn’t have anything that I have and own and they just changed my life,” said Michael.
He said he likes sports and eating. His favorite food is his dad’s bacon.
“It gave me a chance to endure the love that mom and dad gave me, and it just helped me out a bunch,” Michael said.”
The Wrights have adopted two other kids as well and still foster others.
They said they will continue to answer the calls from The Department of Children and Family Services as long as they can.
“What helps us to keep answering the phone are the successes that we’ve seen. Kids that have gotten to go home that are still home today,” said Tonya.
While there are still over 400 children in foster care that number is down by 70 since April of 2022, according to data.
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