ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — In 2022, more than a hundred foster kids in Arkansas left the state Division of Children and Family Services‘ care, not because they aged out but because they found a family.

According to Tiphanie Gurwell with Project Zero, a nonprofit that helps connect foster kids eligible for adoption with prospective families, at least 109 Arkansas kids and teens found permeant homes this last year.

“I’d love to see the numbers double, if not triple, this next year,” Gurwell said.

With just over two weeks left before the new year, 4,017 kids remain in Foster Care in the state. According to Gurwell, 292 of those kids’ parental rights have been terminated, meaning they need to be adopted or they’ll live in the system until they age out.

Gurwell said that statistically speaking, 20% of teens will age out of foster care. She oftentimes said those who age out will either end up homeless or imprisoned.

“We need families who are going to be in it for the long haul because disruptions just add more trauma to that child’s life. They need a family that when it gets hard, they’re sticking it out, and that’s not going to be easy,” she said.

With hundreds of teens, children, and sibling groups waiting for a permanent home, Gurwell said in 2023, and she hopes more families will decide to adopt through foster care.

“We have an opportunity now to provide these kids with a safe, loving family who are going to support them and fight for them into adulthood,” Gurwell said.

On the third Thursday of every month, FOX24 and KNWA feature a child, teen or sibling group eligible for adoption during the 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. broadcasts.

To see a list of waiting-for children in Arkansas, click here.