ARKANSAS VOICES for THE CHILDREN LEFT BEHIND/27th Anniversary Message
From Dee Ann Newell, Founder and Director of Arkansas Voices, March 2017
As the founding executive director, I wrote this newsletter to reflect on our past achievements, to thank our numerous partners and to seek your continued support at the marking of our 10-year anniversary. Arkansas Voices began serving children of incarcerated parents in 1994 and became a statewide nonprofit in 2002, offering services, training, advocacy and technical assistance for this vulnerable population.
Our Mission: To provide justice for children left behind as a result of parental incarceration or related reasons.
We directly served over 200 families annually, each with an average of 3.1 children.
CALLING FOR HELP TO OUR NEW AND OLD FRIENDS
Before Arkansas Voices for Children Left Behind became a non-profit organization in 2002, we were a 32-member coalition, each one dedicated in some way to serving the children and their incarcerated parent and their caregivers. Given the end of our state funding, we need to return to our previous structure and must rely on private donations to continue this important work. EVERY donation matters and the funds will help us to sustain our mission. You can reach us at Arkansas Voices, 1818 North Taylor, #140, Little Rock, AR 72207 or call Dee Ann Newell at 501-366-3647.
LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS
Arkansas Voices is always seeking volunteers for a variety of purposes, but primarily to help with our support groups for the children and their relative caregivers and in our parenting program, now 19 years old, held at the Pulaski County Jail one time per week for one hour. (NOTE: No one with a criminal record can volunteer in the jail. This is the only program of our organization where formerly incarcerated cannot volunteer). We also need more trained volunteers to help with our WARM Line, where we can roll over the phone at our office to your home, so your volunteer work is right at home.
SIXTH GRANDPARENT GATHERING HELD IN LITTLE ROCK
According to expert testimony at the state legislature, it is estimated that relative caregivers saved Arkansas over $38 million dollars in foster care savings, and that about 62,000 children in Arkansas are cared for in grandparent households outside of the child welfare system. This figure represents about 10% of Arkansas’ child population.
Arkansas Voices held its sixth (2005, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2014, 2016) statewide gathering of grandparent and relative caregivers. This popular event provided caregivers with an opportunity to ask questions from experts and policymakers, as well as network with their peers.
information on the loss and grief reactions that the grandchildren face when they have lost their parents to the criminal justice system, drugs, or mental illness.
MOTHERS IN PRISON, CHILDREN IN CRISIS - 23rd ANNUAL STATE CAPITOL EVENT
For the past 23 years on the Friday before Mother’s Day in May, Arkansas Voices and the earlier coalition that led its formation, has held a public awareness event at the State Capitol to bring attention to the plight of children whose mothers are incarcerated. It began as part of a national public awareness campaign started by Justice Works in Brooklyn, and Arkansas Voices has continued hosting this event in Little Rock for the past 25 years.
A GUIDE FOR RELATIVE CAREGIVERS OF CHILDREN IN THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM
In conjunction with the Administrative Office of the Courts, DHS/DCFS, and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Arkansas Voices is pleased to announce a new handbook for grandparents and relatives with children in the foster care system. The handbook will be on our website at www.arkansasvoices.org with hard copies available for mailing or distribution at our trainings. Arkansas Voices also has a companion resource, A Guide for Relative Caregivers: What You Need to Know if A Parent is Arrested or Absent, available on our website and in hard copy.
UPCOMING ARKANSAS EVENTS
We have had many, many supporters and volunteers over the past decade, including the following individuals and agencies (my apologies if I missed anyone):