Parents in Arkansas should, ideally, be capable of taking care of their children. In most cases, it is best for children to be with their parents as they age. However, there are situations where children should not be placed with their biological parents. For one reason or another, these parents are unable or unwilling to properly care for the children. In these situations, children can be taken into DHS custody and placed with a guardian.
However, data shows that Arkansas has a relatively low rate of placing these children with family members instead of placing them in the foster care system. Instead of appointing a family member as guardian, DHS has been accused of unnecessarily placing children with foster families. Specifically, a report from the summer claims that only 14 percent of children have been placed with family members instead of in foster care in the entire state. This number is significantly lower than data from surrounding states.
Recently, lawmakers in Arkansas held a hearing about why the rate was so much lower in Arkansas. During this hearing, grandparents with grandchildren who have been placed in foster care spoke to state lawmakers about their concerns. Specifically, they claim their grandchildren should have been placed with them instead of in the foster care system.
Officials from DHS claim that additional laws are necessary in order to increase the rate of placement with family members. They also say that newer data should be available soon that shows that the department has made great strides in increasing the number of family placements.
Guardianship issues involving minor children can be difficult to deal with in Arkansas. As this case shows, people need to understand their legal rights when it comes to protecting children in their families.