Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and the Arkansas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers prompted a hearing today at the Department of Human Services to speak against a DHS policy that bans “cohabitating adults” from becoming foster parents.
The comment period lasted two hours and featured numerous voices against the policy. Among those most adamant in their opposition were Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families Deputy Director Jennifer Ferguson, Dr. Jill Fussell of the Arkansas Chapter of the Academy of Pediatrics and Dr. Stephanie Simonton of the Arkansas Psychological Association. They were joined by former foster children, foster parents, and other concerned citizens. Two speakers expressed support of the ban, including John Thomas of the Family Council of Arkansas.
The reason for holding the hearing is that the policy was never promulgated, or open to public comment, although it's been effect. AACF saw the hearing as a good way to educate people on the harm of the ban and to create awareness of a proposed ballot initiative banning adoption or foster parenting in homes with unmarried couples.