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Senior Publishes New Arkansas Policy Program Report

Unfulfilled PromisesCONWAY, Ark. (November 28, 2016) – Hendrix College student Peter Butler ’17, Student Senate President, recently published Unfulfilled Promises: The reality of FINS in Arkansas through the Arkansas Policy Program (APP).

Through APP, students and faculty provide nonpartisan, original analyses on key public policy issues in Arkansas through a new undergraduate think tank. APP was developed by Hendrix politics professor Dr. Jay Barth with the support of the Bill and Connie Bowen Odyssey Professorship, and builds upon Barth’s ongoing public policy and public opinion research and advocacy work related to Arkansas.  

Butler, an interdisciplinary politics, philosophy, and economics major from Naperville, Illinois, worked with Disability Rights Arkansas, Inc. (DRA).

In his report, Butler examines shortfalls in Families In Need of Services (FINS), a legal venue to help juveniles and parents acquire services such as counseling, health services, or parenting courses that improve the quality of their lives at home and school.

In practice, insufficient guidelines for implementation create “a hazy picture of its desired aims or scope,” Butler writes.

Other problems include a punitive nature of detaining children or parents for rejecting court-offered services, as well as a geographic and racial disproportion of FINS cases in the Delta region of eastern Arkansas (e.g. more than 60 percent of FINS cases in a region with roughly a third of the state’s population).

Addressing FINS inadequacies will require cooperation from “a diverse community of stakeholders,” including courts, schools, administrators of services, and policymakers to ensure meaningful changes, Butler writes.

“Unfulfilled Promises:  The reality of FINS in Arkansasoffers policymakers, advocates, courts and administrators the tools needed to provide meaningful changes to a system that is in need of substantial reform,” said Disability Rights Arkansas Executive Director Tom Masseau. “Working with Mr. Butler and the Arkansas Policy Program provided an opportunity for DRA to delve into a topic that has a frequent and profound impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities in Arkansas.”

To receive a free PDF file of the latest report or to learn more about APP, email or view the report here.

About Hendrix College

Hendrix College is a private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas. Founded in 1876 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884, Hendrix is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges and is nationally recognized in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings for academic quality, community, innovation, and value. For more information, visit