Radio Column

Asa Arkansas's Governor

Faith In Action

07/17/2015

Column Transcript

This story will touch your heart. During a four-month period earlier this year, 22 children in foster care had to spend the night in an office of the Department of Human Services. Why? Because the caseworker, despite countless phone calls and tireless effort, could not find a home for them.

Twenty-two children had to sleep in a DHS office because we could find no one to take them in. They had nowhere to go.

On the other end of the spectrum, the story is sadly similar: Some inmates who have done their time and been granted parole remain in prison because they also have nowhere to go. They have no housing, no jobs lined up, no transportation. Often they have no idea how to get something as simple and necessary as a driver’s license or identification card. They need direction; they need a mentor to re-start them on life.

We face a crisis in Arkansas. On the one hand, we have young children who, through no fault of their own, find themselves alone with few prospects for a loving home. They’re looking for a first chance.

On another hand, we have inmates who have paid their debt to society and find themselves with few prospects for building a better life outside prison — and, too often, return to prison as a result. They’re looking for a second chance.

These Arkansans need more help. But there are some problems that government money cannot solve.`

So last week, I announced plans for the Governor’s Restore Hope Summit on August 25th and 26th at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Little Rock.

I invite you to attend.

At the summit, you will hear from leaders of state agencies, non-profits and ministries about ways to improve our reentry process and foster care.

It’s not the summit itself that’ll make a difference. It’s the follow-up — setting goals, taking action. The summit is not the end but the beginning. It’s the start of building even better relationships between the faith community and state agencies, both of which already share a common cause. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be working more closely together.

I recognize that many Arkansans in the faith community, in nonprofits, on their own, have fought this fight for a long, long time. We want to lend them a hand. We want to bring together those folks who have been willing to fight this fight on different fronts, and harness their knowledge and experience in a focused way to improve reentry for inmates and expand the number of foster homes for our children.

I truly believe that if we can get the right people together, we can solve this problem.

If you are interested in attending the summit, please visit the Governor’s website to register. We need your help.