March 03, 2010 Edition

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Shelter puts new policies in place



Judy Clark, a member of The Children's Shelter Board, puts icing on a cake as Amber Phillips (from left), the shelter's administrator; Judy Turnbull, board member; and Jennifer Blagg, a shelter employee, watch.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt
Gretchen Hunt
Editor

Administrator Amber Phillips and The Children's Shelter Board of directors learned a hard lesson recently when allegations were made to the Child Abuse Hotline.

While the allegations were deemed unfounded by investigators, the shelter still suffered a blow. Though the shelter was never closed by its licensing agency, Department of Human Services policies required the removal of the children placed by DHS.

"It was a hard lesson," Judy Turnbull, president of the board, said. "We are learning as we go, but we're not giving up." Judy Clark, fellow board member, agreed.

"The need for the shelter has not diminished at all," she said.

Phillips said to prevent a future problem they have had put policies in place for what to do if allegations are made. If allegations are made against an employee, that employee will be put on leave until the investigation is complete.

In the event that an allegation is made against the administrator, an interim administrator would be put in place to prevent the removal of children.

"This new policy has been approved, so we should not have a problem in the future where DHS is forced to pull the kids," Phillips said. "It's all about keeping the kids here and what's best for them."

The shelter has the capacity to hold up to 12 children and currently has nine in residence. Children can stay in the shelter up to 45 days.

Since opening in June the shelter has served 157 children from 19 different counties, some of whom have been in the shelter multiple times.

Turnbull teared up as she shared stories of children asking to be taken to the shelter or being excited because they were allowed to have seconds at a meal.

"When children are requesting to come back here, that's good," she said. "That means they've felt safe."

Help needed with funding

The shelter board is currently appealing to churches, schools, businesses, clubs and individuals to help with funding.

Clark said there has been a lull in fund-raising activities because the individuals who had been working on fund-raising had to change their focus to opening the shelter and operations.

"We had a lot of fund-raisers to get the shelter open," Turnbull said. "Now that the shelter is open we need some people who want to be on a committee for fund-raising. We have a very nice facility, but it's pretty expensive to maintain."

Anyone who would like to help with fund-raising efforts can contact Turnbull or call the shelter.

Upcoming fund-raisers include a spaghetti supper and a Boston butt sale. The spaghetti supper will be at the Hoxie School cafeteria on March 20 from 5-7 p.m. The cost will be $5 for adults and $3 for children.

Boston butts are being sold and will be ready for pickup on April 2 in time for the Easter holiday. They are $25 each and can be reserved by calling the shelter or Turnbull.

Phillips said there are also fund-raisers being planned in Paragould and Pocahontas. The shelter serves children from throughout the area, and Phillips said she is glad to see support coming from surrounding counties.

Monthly pledges and one-time gifts are also always welcome, and due to the shelter's non-profit status, contributions are tax-deductible.

"We've had wonderful support in the past and couldn't have gotten this far without that support," Clark said.

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