While we technically refer to our campus on Fillmore Street as the “Methodist Children’s Home,” we have many different programs that happen there. One such program, Arkansas CARES, is one I was unaware existed as part of the Methodist Family Health continuum until I came on staff. “CARES” stands for “Center for Addictions Research, Education, and Services,” and the clients are all either pregnant or mothers with children (ages 12 or younger.) CARES is a three-month treatment program for women battling both mental illness and substance abuse. During their time at CARES, our ladies learn how to better care for themselves and their children, while at the same time receiving needed therapies.
My favorite part about the program, however, is the fact that the women are often able to maintain custody of their kids by participating in the program. The women live on campus with their kids, and as they are learning how to be better parents as part of the education they receive, they are also able to live out those newly-improved skills in the cottage with the help of behavioral instructors.
While I love all of the programs I can help support through Methodist Family Health, I have to say the CARES moms hold a special place in my heart. They are so genuine about their struggles and past, and the ones who stick it out and graduate have such a strong desire to better themselves and put a stop to the negative family cycles of which so many of them have been a part. Overcoming addiction and mental illness takes hard work and courage, and I can see the evidence of this every time I meet with them.
Currently, I have a lunchtime Bible study with the ladies once a week where we open Scripture and learn more about it. We also meet on Friday mornings where we focus more on spiritual disciplines and tools they can take with them upon graduation. We employ practices such as prayer beads, labyrinths, and even some crafting as we learn how these things can draw us closer to God. One of the favorite Friday morning activities for our CARES moms, however, is yoga. Bailey Faulkner, executive director of the Ozark Mission Project, volunteers her time once a month to come to lead us all in a Christ-centered yoga experience, and the women absolutely love it.
Because of the difficult experiences these ladies have faced, most of them are so eager to learn about things that can help them lead successful lives, including an active relationship with God. They ask questions during Bible study, they share their prayer requests openly, and they understand the importance that Spiritual growth will play in their overall recovery.
Would you join me this month in praying for our CARES mothers and their children? Please pray that God would continue to strengthen these ladies for the journey and that they would all come to understand the unconditional love He has for each one of them.
Having been an Arkansan and Methodist since 2011, I have heard of Methodist Family Health for the past several years, but I will admit that I did not have a very comprehensive understanding of the different facilities and programs that were available to help families in need. As a youth minister, I even led my youth group in serving at the Methodist Children’s Home campus in Little Rock from time to time, but I still was unaware of the breadth of programs that existed. As an organization, Methodist Family Health is so fortunate to receive so much support from Arkansas United Methodist churches and individuals. It is our hope that by further explaining our different programs over the next several months, we can continue to help families receive the help they need, work to dissipate any stigma that surrounds mental health treatment, and help Arkansas Methodists find the best fit for ways that they may want to continue to join in prayer or service to our clients.
– Amy Shores, director of pastoral care at Methodist Family Health
Methodist Family Health has two residential treatment centers, one in Little Rock at the Methodist Children’s Home, and one in Bono, which is in Craighead County. Our RTC programs are for youth ages 6 to 17 (trending older), and students can be referred by various sources, including parents, churches, schools or mental health clinics. A typical stay at our RTC is 4-to-6 months, and while in treatment, the students focus on individual, group and recreational therapy.
We are very proud to be in our new residential treatment center in Little Rock, which opened in September 2018. Here, clients have their own rooms along with shared living, dining and recreational spaces. Because students need to continue schoolwork while at the RTC, we also have classrooms, and this school follows the Little Rock School District calendar.
Staff members at the RTC include behavioral instructors, therapists, doctors, nurses, administrators, teachers, and dining and housekeeping staff – all working together to ensure all students receive the best possible treatment for their mental disorders while learning new ways to cope with problems they may face at school, home or in the community.
Students at the RTC can eventually earn outings as part of their treatment along with weekend passes to return home to work on the skills they are learning.
However, at least for the first several weeks, it’s difficult for most of our clients to have enough time at home to be able to attend church. We have a weekly Bible study, and we also try to have at least one volunteer group come in each month to lead a Sunday service for our students.
Several local churches have also opened their doors to our students to visit youth areas on a Saturday pass or to occasionally join an activity with their youth.
If you are interested in volunteering to host our RTC students, or if you have any adults or youth who would like to lead a service at one of our RTCs, please contact Amy Shores, director of pastoral care, at email@example.com.