LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - What happens when a child enters state foster care? It's a question many ask.
Once a child goes into foster care, DHS immediately finds a place for that child or teen to stay, whether it's a foster home or facility. Then the process begins of either reuniting the child with his or her family or placing the child up for adoption. Teens are the toughest to place and many end up in facilities for long periods of time. We found one very unique, very special place where teens, who have no home and no family, go to heal.
On the outskirts of Paron, Ark., deep in the heart of the Ouachita National Forest rests an oasis for the state's teenage foster children-The Second Chance Ranch.
"We wanted to take them back into time and to give them a totally different environment to start over and to have a second chance," explains Pastor Perry Black.
It's a safe place, for children with nowhere else to turn.
"They've had enough abuse and neglect and hurt, and we want to be that platform, that foundation where they can rebuild their emotional lives," says Black.
Pastor Black opened the ranch in 2006. It is a place and space for healing, and for Pastor Black, it's a mission born in his past and fueled by love and emotion in his heart.
"I think because I was messed up as a teenager myself, I went to Central High School, played football and very popular, but in my senior year after football season, I kind of got derailed," he recalls. "When I gave my life to the Lord, I made the commitment to help young people that deal with the same issues I did-to have a second chance."
Black knows teens are the toughest to place in a permanent home but says it's a misconception that they're the toughest to deal with.
"They just need someone to care for them, love them, give them structure, give them responsibility and accountability and then reinforce positive behavior," he explains. "It can be miraculous results if a family is willing to take on that opportunity."
Even if a family doesn't come along, Pastor Black will keep a teen at the ranch, with his staff of house parents and clinical workers until he or she is an adult. Still, he encourages every Arkansan to consider opening their hearts and homes to a child in need.
"There's a wonderful need, if you want to refer to it that way, to make a difference in the lives of young people, and we are looking for men and women in this state who will stand up and help make a difference in the life of a hurting child and help them get through the process of the struggles of disappointment. You don't have to have a big facility to make a difference. One child at a time," he adds.
Pastor Black receives help from the Arkansas Department of Human Services. He also relies heavily on donations and is in constant need of help.
To contact the Second Chance Ranch, call 501.594.5200.