Child Welfare

Arkansas’s Children in Foster Care

The number of children in the Arkansas foster care system has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of State Fiscal Year 2021, the number of children in foster care was 4,854. It has been difficult for children and families to receive services during the pandemic, leaving children in the foster care system longer. The state has also been shorthanded when family service workers have been out with COVID. Although the number of children in foster care has begun to decrease, with 4,657 children as of Dec. 2021, the effects of the pandemic on an already overburdened system will be felt for a long time.

The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018, a landmark piece of federal legislation, places an emphasizes on keeping children safely with their families when possible because entering foster care can be traumatizing for many children. It also places an emphasis on placing children with relatives, so that a child can maintain a connection with their family. And if children do have to enter foster care, it encourages children to be placed in the most family-like setting such as a family foster home and discourages using group care for children by limiting funds for group care settings.