Arrow of Hope
There are over 22,000 churches in the state of Texas,” says Sydia Aguilar of Arrow Child & Family Ministries, a Texas foster care organization. “If one family from every church opened their home [to a foster child], we wouldn’t be in crisis.”
Aguilar is Arrow’s local foster care recruiter. The crisis she speaks of is one that continues to develop. In Texas, the foster care system is currently responsible for more than 15,000 children. Some have been removed from environments of abuse or neglect. Others enter the system after parental incarceration or abandonment. All need a safe, temporary foster home.
As a faith-based nonprofit, Arrow knows that some of the best foster care candidates are families attending those churches. “I’m out in the community educating about the need locally,” says Aguilar.
That need is significant. Arrow’s office in Amarillo serves a 41-county area, from the top of the Texas Panhandle into the South Plains and a satellite office in Lubbock. In the past quarter, more than 200 children in the Panhandle alone were displaced from their homes and have entered the system.
It’s important to keep those children in the Panhandle, which means it’s important to identify, train and support foster families who live here. “When a child is removed [from a home], the primary goal is reunification. With that kind of goal, they need to stay in the area in order for that to be successful,” she says. When local homes aren’t available, kids have to be sent outside the county—or even the region. “That makes it very difficult for visits to happen.”
Trauma is already a significant issue for children who require foster care. Many are coming out of tragic and difficult situations. But layered on top of that is distance from their families. Arrow simply needs more local foster families. “It’s just such a dire need for individuals to step up to this responsibility. It takes a village to conquer this crisis,” she says.
Arrow works to identify, train and license foster families for children birth to 17. “The two areas of greatest need for our homes are those who can take sibling groups and older teens. Those are the hardest to place, like two little brothers—we want to keep them together,” she adds.
The organization also enlists and trains individuals to provide respite care—like babysitting—for foster families, and always accepts financial donations, hygiene items, baby needs and other basics. Learn more about the organization at arrow.org.