As you read this, consider that there are 19,000-plus children in Arizona’s foster care system — a staggering number, more kids than the population of Payson, Ariz.
In today’s society with issues such as drug and alcohol dependency, domestic abuse and neglect, the number of children that need safe, loving homes is at an all-time high, with little sign of decline, AND there are not enough foster homes for these boys and girls.
So many irresponsible adults create problems that change forever the lives of innocent children. These children need a home and the love and stability that it provides. We have solutions at Arizona Helping Hands. We assist foster families with basic needs and items needed to meet foster care licensing requirements.
Almost half of all foster care placements are classified as “kinship” or non-licensed. These relatives, family friends and other caring adults are a wonderful solution to the search for a loving home for little Johnny or Sofia. So the question becomes “How can we make life better for families who have chosen to #StandUp for kids in need?”
We recently met “Mr. B,” a school teacher, who opened his heart and his home to two brothers whose home life was determined to be problematic. DCS referred Mr. B to us to receive basic needs to make these kids comfortable. We provided twin beds, personal care products, laundry detergent, clothing and more.
Accepting these children into his home changed Mr. B’s life in an instant – he now has the burden of providing for these boys, two additional mouths to feed, two kids to get to school, doctor appointments and so much more. The basic items we provided took one additional strain off his plate and made it easier to focus on much more important factors – those two boys.
This example is replayed multiple times a day at Arizona Helping Hands. For example, the aunt that just took in her four-week old nephew. Little “N” is such a cutie, but his aunt had no crib, and only a couple of “onesies.” Or the grandma whose two granddaughters took turns sleeping on the sofa – these kids deserve better.
We are working to make that happen – we will provide 2,000 beds and cribs to kids in care in 2016, birthday gifts to 1,000 and so much more!
Our Basic Needs program – beds, cribs, clothing, diapers and lots more – eases immediate burdens for foster families. Now, with the help of funding from the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation, and in partnership with our friends at AASK we are taking the next step.
We will begin providing items that the state requires to meet foster home licensing requirements. Mr. B does not presently receive any governmental support for his care of his two boys. If he chooses, he could go through the process to become a licensed care provider and receive a some ongoing assistance. However, there are many steps to be followed and additional expenses along the way.
Among the requirements, every home must have a first aid kit that meets certain standards. We will provide 2,000 first aid kits for foster families with the new funding received. Plus, through a recent donation of smoke detectors we will provide 200 smoke detectors. Our next hope is to locate new funding to provide fire extinguishers, child safety locks and other necessities so that the cost of becoming licensed is not a deterrent to concerned families.
With 19,000 boys and girls in Arizona’s system, and a shortage of foster homes to place them in – we at Arizona Helping Hands are doing our best to ease the burdens of becoming licensed, to create more homes for these kids, and to see that each one of them has a SAFE PLACE they can lay down their head at night.
We are working to be a part of the solution to the foster care crisis in Arizona. We hope you’ll choose to #StandUp and take a role in improving lives for Johnny, Sofia and other kids who need a helping hand.
Editor’s note: Dan Shufelt is executive director of Arizona Helping Hands, a nonprofit organization based in Scottsdale. Learn about Arizona Helping Hands and how you can help at http://www.azhelpinghands.org/can-help/. Contact the writer at email@example.com and read more of Dan’s blogposts at http://www.azhelpinghands.org/blogpost/.