Northwest Arkansas Children's Shelter An Introduction

by Angela Forsyth

What do you know about the Children's Shelter located in Vaughn, AR? With April being Child Abuse Prevention Month, I want to bring to light one of our region's biggest champions in the struggle to meet the needs of abused children in NWA.



Northwest Arkansas Children's Shelter An Introduction


What do you know about the Children's Shelter located in Bentonville, AR? With April being Child Abuse Prevention Month, I want to bring to light one of our region's biggest champions in the struggle to meet the needs of children who have been abused, abandoned and neglected in NWA.


As an alumni foster parent (now adoptive parent), I'll tell you I have a special interest in foster care and a deep appreciation for the Northwest Arkansas Children's Shelter. You might have read in my earlier post, that the state of Arkansas had more than 10,000 confirmed reports of child maltreatment in 2016. That is a staggering number! Of those cases, 68% were neglect, 21% were physical abuse and 20% were sexual abuse. Imagine the children who have been through these cases - think about the trauma! Consider all the complex feelings surrounding them - fear, confusion, guilt, sadness, in some cases relief and hope. These are the kids entering the Children's Shelter, and those are only a few of the many issues they deal with.


While many children are able to go directly into foster homes, there are some kids who need extra specialized attention first, before they can be released into a foster home. They may have immediate medical needs, severe behavioral issues or extreme trauma. In one case, a teenager battling addiction was placed in the shelter. Read her moving letter about how workers helped her as she went through withdrawal.


At the Children's Shelter, kids receive highly focused attention by trained professionals. When a child first arrives, he/she sees a therapist, and a whole assessment is made within 48 hours. Kids are able to stay here for a maximum of 45 days. During those days, loving staff members, who are trained in trauma, work with the children to help them become more stable before going into foster homes.


There are 11 children's shelters in Arkansas, but with the capacity to hold 48 children at once, the Northwest Arkansas Children's Shelter is the largest in the state and the only children's shelter in Benton County. Because of its size and capabilities, it often takes in children outside of Benton County. The center is organized into wings with separate sleeping areas for teen girls, boys ages 5-12, girls ages 5-12 and a toddler and baby wing. Each wing of bedrooms has its own family room space with a couch, TV and games to make kids feel at home and able to just hang-out. There's also a kitchenette area in each wing, plus showers and a quiet padded nook for any child who needs a break from the group.


When I visited the site, I was mostly blown away by the on-site school. There's a separate wing right there in the shelter with four classrooms (K-2nd grade, 3rd-6th grade, 7th-12th grade and Special Ed.) that look very much like what you see in mainstream schools. Classes are taught by state certified teachers who, in addition to having all the same requirements as public school teachers, have additional training in working with the unique needs of children in crisis. The school has its own director, computer area, resource room, playground, gym and a full sized cafeteria where warm meals are made each day.


I was fortunate to have a personal tour but on April 30, the Northwest Arkansas Shelter will be hosting an open house for families to come in and check it out. Open House hours are from 1pm - 4pm, RSVP is required



Angela Forsyth, free lance writer with Firefly Marketing, LLC

Angela Forsyth, Freelance writer with Firefly Marketing, LLC





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