Arkansas Children

The director of the state agency responsible for housing and treating Arkansas' youth offenders has announced his resignation.

The Department of Human Services announced Thursday that its Division of Youth Services director, Marcus Devine, had resigned. Spokeswoman Amy Webb says Devine met with staff Thursday to announce he was leaving immediately for a position in the private sector.

Senator Jeremy Hutchinson

State Republican Senator Jeremy Hutchinson says appointed attorneys for indigent parents in child custody cases can’t afford expert witnesses, and are at a disadvantage to counter arguments made by the Department of Human Services.

Hutchinson also said he thinks it is a conflict of interest that attorneys representing parents and children in custody cases work under the same agency, the Administrative Office of the Courts.

"There is an inherent conflict in having what's often times antagonistic parties represented by individuals who work for the same entity," he said.

Arkansas Department of Human Services

The head of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s Juvenile Justice Reform Board is disputing an advocacy group’s characterization of the state’s oldest youth facility as “notorious.”

Youth First, a criminal justice reform group, ranked the state’s Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center near Alexander as one of the nation’s 80 worst.

Marcus Devine, Director of Youth Services at the Department of Human Services, said that’s hyperbole.  

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

A non-profit is forming between Arkansas prison officials, community members, religious leaders, and the Department of Human Services, to address high recidivism rates, and overcrowding in the state’s foster care system.

Arkansas Department of Community Correction Chief Deputy Director Kevin Murphy said the effort is an extension of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s “restore hope” initiative.

Chris Hickey / KUAR News

Members of the Arkansas Judiciary say inefficiencies, lack of information and inadequate staffing are the main hurdles to deciding where to place neglected and abused children in the state.

A round of hearings on child welfare reform was held Tuesday. The meeting was conducted jointly by the state Senate Committee on Children and Youth and the House Committee on Aging, Children and Youth, Legislative and Military Affairs.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Foster care officials are pointing to a shortage of caseworkers as numbers of children in the state's system steadily increase.

Division of Children and Family Services director, Cecile Blucker, and staff from the Department of Human Services, spoke to lawmakers Wednesday.

They said the number of foster kids has grown by about 700 in the last few months to 4,600. According to Blucker, 7,600 children are protective service cases and are living at home. 

ABC News To Look At Rep. Justin Harris 'Rehoming' Daughters

Oct 22, 2015
Justin harris
Arkansas Times

The ABC News program 20/20 will air a one-hour special this Friday, October 23 about Arkansas State Representative Justin Harris "rehoming" his adopted daughters and the controversy surrounding it.

ABC News released this statement Thursday about the special:

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he wants the state to continue working with faith leaders about ways to address a shortage in foster homes and needs for re-entry programs for prisoners after a two-day summit focused on the topics.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R)
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR News

Some 6,000 inmates are released every year from Arkansas prisons, reentering society to find few employment opportunities or support. Meanwhile thousands of foster children face a shortage of foster beds. That's why Governor Asa Hutchinson called for the "Restore Hope" Summit which takes place Tuesday, August 25 and Wednesday, August 26. 

Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Arkansas children who are beneficiaries of government food programs may be impacted by an upcoming vote on the Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization Act in the United States Congress this fall.

Arkansas’s U.S. Senator John Boozman visited the children’s library in Little Rock Friday to learn about summer nutrition programs for kids in the state. A member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Boozman said he plans to vote in favor of the act.

“What I would like to do is find a lot more flexibility to the parties involved,” said Boozman.