By Madeleine Leroux
Editor’s note: This is the final installment in a weekly series about foster care and The CALL in Union County that has run as part of our Community Christmas Card campaign, where we ask readers to help a local nonprofit through donations collected by the News-Times. Everyone who donated at least $2 through Dec. 21 had their name listed in the Community Christmas Card that can be seen on page 1B.
In order to help serve area foster families, The CALL in Union County is dependent on donations.
Karen Langston, coordinator of The CALL in Union County, said costs have risen for the organization in the last two years as it has grown to include more families and serve more children.
“When I took over The CALL in 2015 we had three foster families and $43,” Langston said. “We’re serving right around 40 families and I would love to have 60 by the end of the year.”
To start a new foster family, Langston said it costs the organization around $1,600, plus another $600 per year to keep that foster family open.
“Our operating budget is nowhere near that at all, we rely heavily on people to help us,” Langston said.
Those donations can be anything from monetary to in-kind, meaning materials and services. For instance, Langston said Regions Bank donates paper, something that many might not think about, but is a huge money-saver.
“Paper’s expensive,” Langston said. “It probably takes 400-500 pieces of paper to process a family.”
Besides costs associated with getting a foster family approved to take in a child, Langston said the organization tries to provide whatever possible to ease the burden on the foster family. She said families receive a small payment each month, with the amount depending on the age of the child, but she noted it’s usually around $400-$500, nowhere near enough to cover the expense of taking in a child.
“It is a huge sacrifice,” Langston said.
Because of that, The CALL tries to provide needed products, such as diapers, wipes and hair products for black girls, she said.
“In-kind donations make up a huge, huge part of how we operate, which keeps our costs down,” Langston said.
This year, for our second Community Christmas Card, we asked readers to help us raise money for The CALL in Union County. We had hoped to exceed the nearly $7,000 that was raised for the Union County Animal Protection Society last year, but unfortunately didn’t come close.
To all who contributed to the $1,864 that was raised as of Friday, we thank you. And remember that the giving season extends far beyond Christmas and the holidays in general - nonprofit organizations such as The CALL need support year-round to serve those in need in our community. To learn more about The CALL, visit thecallinarkansas.org/union.
To see the full Community Christmas Card, see page 1B. Merry Christmas!
Madeleine Leroux can be reached at 870-862-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.