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Where to get help in Central Arkansas

A guide to where to look.

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DON'T BE AFRAID TO PESTER ELECTED OFFICIALS: At Little Rock City Hall and elsewhere. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • DON'T BE AFRAID TO PESTER ELECTED OFFICIALS: At Little Rock City Hall and elsewhere.

Know someone who needs help? Or need help yourself? It can be hard to find. Social service groups come and go, budgets are perpetually strapped and even the most dedicated staffers tend to be overworked and underpaid.

Fortunately, Pulaski County has some fantastic nonprofits and a number of public resource programs for those seeking assistance. The trick is figuring out where to begin looking.

We can't hope to offer a comprehensive list, but we might be able to steer you in the right direction. This list is intended to be a jumping-off point for those looking for services or trying to help a friend, family member or neighbor in need of assistance.

The first step is to do some homework. There's not yet a single one-stop shop for finding assistance in Pulaski County, but there are many good guides out there. Search online for "Little Rock Compassion Resources Directory" to find an encyclopedic list of resource providers in the area. Goodwill Industries of Arkansas has a statewide online directory. You might also try the Good Grid and Aunt Bertha, two websites attempting to build a comprehensive list of social services and community resources. Both feature search tools that are slick, promising and still very much works in progress, at least as of December 2018.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services, despite its many flaws, is the clearinghouse for most public resources offered through the state, such as Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps) and child care vouchers. Visit the DHS website or call one of the agency's several locations in Pulaski County (682-9200 for Pulaski County south; 682-0100 for North Little Rock). Check Arkansas Children's Hospital's website for a list of social work resources, some local and some national.

Good luck. And remember, be persistent.

Call your elected officials

If you're running into trouble with a government agency, be it local, state or federal, don't hesitate to reach out to the people in charge. Their job is to represent you.

For federal issues, try U.S. Sens. John Boozman (372-7153 in Little Rock, 202-224-4843 in D.C.) and Tom Cotton (223-9081 locally, 202-224-2353 in D.C.) or U.S. Rep. French Hill (324-5941, 202-225-2506 in D.C.).

State agency problems? There are 14 state representatives and six state senators who represent districts in Pulaski County. Find the officials who represent you at the state House or state Senate websites. When the General Assembly is in session, call the House at 682-6211; the Senate's in-session number is 682-2902. To reach the governor's office, call 682-2345.

For municipal issues, try the city director or alderman for your ward and/or an at-large director and the mayor's office. Reach out to the cities of Little Rock (371-4510), North Little Rock (975-8888), Jacksonville (982-3181), Maumelle (851-2500) or Sherwood (835-5319) for contact information for elected officials. Pulaski County residents are represented by the Quorum Court, which is made up of 15 Justices of the Peace (340-8205).

Report child abuse or adult maltreatment

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call the state's Crimes Against Children Hotline at 800-482-5964; your anonymity will be preserved. Adult Protective Services, within the Department of Human Services, has a hotline at 800-482-8049 to report suspected abuse of adults who are impaired by mental or physical disease or who pose a danger to themselves. Victims of domestic violence can seek help from the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence by calling 800-269-4668 (Arkansas hotline) or 800-799-7233 (U.S. hotline).

Food assistance

For a list of food pantries and soup kitchens in Pulaski County, contact the Arkansas Food Bank (565-8121) or visit foodpantries.org. Also try the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance (399-9999), an organization that's especially helpful at connecting people with SNAP, the food stamp program.

Homeless services and temporary shelter

There are many organizations serving the homeless in Pulaski County, but shelter options are limited — especially for single men. Our House (374-7383) helps the homeless find employment and independence; it also runs a shelter, though space tends to fill up quickly. As of December 2018, the Little Rock Compassion Center (663-2972 for women, 296-9114 for men/families) was the city's only emergency shelter that reliably accepted single men, but it charges a small fee and conditions can be austere. The Van (955-3444) concentrates on street outreach and brings supplies such as food, water, clothing and hygiene products to people wherever they are.

On weekdays, the city of Little Rock operates the Jericho Way day center (916-9859), and River City Ministry (376-6694) is a day center serving North Little Rock. Veterans can find help at the VA Day Treatment center (244-1900). Lucie's Place caters to LGBTQ young adults (508-5005); Immerse Arkansas (404-9890) helps former foster kids and other youth. For more up-to-date resource lists, search online for Our House's "Homeless Support Guide."

A HUB FOR JOB HELP: Our House's Career Center. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • A HUB FOR JOB HELP: Our House's Career Center.

Housing

Pulaski County is served by multiple local housing authorities, but their resources are limited. Even if you qualify for a Section 8 voucher or other housing assistance, you may face a waitlist. Contact the Metropolitan Housing Alliance (340-4821) or the North Little Rock Housing Authority (758-8911). If you're encountering other problems with rental housing, Arkansas Community Organizations (376-7151) is a grassroots group that fights for tenant rights.

Health insurance

Arkansas offers free (or nearly free) insurance to most very low-income people through the Arkansas Works program. Depending on the time of year, those with slightly higher incomes may be able to sign up on the insurance marketplace for a (sometimes) modest premium. Your best bet is to contact one of the state's three insurance carriers that sell private plans: Ambetter of Arkansas (877-617-0393), QualChoice (800-235-7111) or Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield (378-2000). Or, contact DHS directly. To sign up for a different Medicaid category (such as ARKids or disability insurance), you'll need to contact DHS.

Medical and dental help

In case of an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, the first step is to enroll in insurance, if possible. But there are also a number of free and low-cost clinics and other providers in Pulaski County. They include Harmony Health Clinic (375-4400) at 201 E. Roosevelt Road; CHI St. Vincent Community Care (552-4710) at 2500 E. Sixth Street; Southwest Little Rock Community Clinic (364-6560) at 9015 Dailey Drive; and the Westside Free Medical Clinic (664-0340) at St. John's Catholic Center at 2415 N. Tyler St.

For help finding free or low-cost children's dental care in Pulaski County, call the local America's ToothFairy representative (819-3979), a program of the National Children's Oral Health Foundation.

Mental health services and substance abuse treatment

The Arkansas Crisis Center runs the state's suicide prevention hotline at 888-274-7472. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.

You can search for behavioral and mental health providers by ZIP code with an online tool provided by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Little Rock Community Mental Health Center (686-9300) is the public mental health agency for the area, though like many pieces of the safety net, it is often overburdened. The Centers for Youth and Families is a good local provider (666-8686 or 888-868-0023). For inpatient treatment for children and adolescents, try the Methodist Children's Home (661-0720) or Youth Home (821-5500).

For substance abuse services, check out the Wolfe Street Foundation's (372-5662) excellent list of community resources. Contact the Arkansas Central Office for Alcoholics Anonymous at 664-6042 or call their hotline at 664-7303. Narcotics Anonymous in Central Arkansas can be reached at 373-8683.

Job search and workforce services

Our House's Career Center is a hub of information for job search assistance and connecting to job training, including for people with a past criminal history; call 374-7383, ext. 3. The state connects residents with various workforce services through two Arkansas Workforce Centers in Pulaski County, one located in Little Rock (682-0228) and one in North Little Rock (376-4119). Goodwill is another major player in workforce training in the area and helps adults earn a high school diploma; call 372- 5100 or 877-372-5151.

Legal assistance

If you've been charged with a crime and can't afford an attorney, a public defender will be appointed to represent you.

The Center for Arkansas Legal Services helps low-income people with civil legal issues. It and its sister nonprofit, Legal Aid of Arkansas (headquartered in Jonesboro), provide free legal services for folks who have been unjustly evicted, scammed or discriminated against, just to cite a few examples. Because they get far more applications for help than they have the resources to provide, they jointly maintain arlegalservices.org. Call 376-3423 or 800-9-LAW-AID (800-952-9243).

Also, the William H. Bowen Law School operates a student-staffed legal clinic that provides assistance pro bono to people who can't afford it. The clinic helps with housing disputes, fraud allegations, credit access, family law and tax issues and also offers mediation. Call 324-9441.

Civil rights complaints

For workplace discrimination issues, contact the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission's office in Little Rock at 800-669-4000. If you believe you have been denied access to or removed from housing because of discrimination, call the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission at 682-3247. Disability Rights Arkansas (296-1775) advocates for people with disabilities.

Services for the elderly

Contact CareLink (372-5300), the Area Agency on Aging for Central Arkansas. CareLink helps with meal delivery, caregiver assistance, Medicare prescription drug counseling, legal assistance and other services.  

Child care assistance

Low-income families should apply for Child Care Assistance, a voucher program offered through the Department of Human Services (682-8947). Thanks to new federal money dedicated to this program earlier this year, there's no longer a waiting list for the program in Arkansas, though finding a provider that accepts vouchers can sometimes be a challenge.

Immigration-related services

The nonprofit El Zocalo Immigrant Resource Center (301-4652) is a clearinghouse for immigrants seeking assistance in Central Arkansas; it publishes a bilingual resource guide and provides a variety of services. Catholic Charities of Arkansas provides low-cost immigration counseling services (664-0340).

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