Arizona’s Children Association Offers Hope and Support for Foster Children
Arizona’s foster care system is overwhelmed. Presently it finds itself with over 17,000 kids in the system, but less than 700 listed foster homes available. While the majority of those children may be in the system for a short time as the legal process plays itself out, 2,300 children wait patiently, hoping to find their forever families.
Founded in 1912, Arizona’s Children Association is one of the oldest and largest comprehensive child welfare and behavioral health agencies in Arizona. With over a dozen programs with focuses ranging from foster care and adoption to behavioral health and trauma response, family preservation and reunification, kinship services, parenting education and transitional support, they can assist more than 40,000 children and families each year.
The numbers speak for themselves. Through these programs, AzCA has seen nearly 100 percent of caregivers reporting increased effectiveness in helping their children learn, while about the same percentage of youth reported gaining skills for self-advocacy and feeling prepared for independence.
Last year alone, AzCA helped to train and support over 800 licensed foster families while assisting in more than 84 adoptions.
For those looking to help, Arizona’s Children Association is happy to be considered for any monetary gift and is proud that 92 cents of every cash dollar donated are spent directly on programs and services. A donation to AzCA may also qualify for the Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization tax credit, which can reduce the amount you owe, dollar for dollar.
There are also many ways to volunteer with AzCA, including mentorship roles, group volunteers and short-term volunteers that assist with specific projects or upcoming events. And for those looking to make the difference of a lifetime, they might want to consider opening up their home to kids in need.
“I wrote in my journal when I was 12 years old that I wanted to have foster kids,” Nicole, a former foster parent with AzCA, says. “My husband and I have known each other since the seventh grade, and he always said he wanted to adopt, so this has just always been a part of both of our hearts.”
Nicole and her husband decided to become foster parents through AzCA in 2014. Already having three biological children, the couple agreed if they wanted any more kids, they would look into fostering kids. They reached out to AzCA, and after going through the qualifying and licensing process, they welcomed their first child about four months later. Since then, they have fostered a total of 12 kids, of which they adopted six.
“If you would have asked me three years ago that we would have nine children three years later, I would have laughed and called you crazy,” Nicole admits.
Though Nicole and her husband’s story as foster parents might be unique, their desire to get involved within their community and play a vital role for kids who need some help is not.
“The hardest part is just starting the process,” Nicole says. “I would tell anyone that if there is even the slightest interest in your heart to do this then go ahead and do it. I don’t know any other way to say other than to say this is the hardest blessing that I have ever walked through, but I would not trade in any of the tears, the heartache, the struggle for anything. Being a part of this stretches your soul wide open, and I would do it all again a million times over.”
For more information on Arizona’s Children Association, including a full description of their offered services and ways to get involved, please visit their website at ArizonasChildren.org.