Fostering a Community 2

Arizona’s Children Association Offers Support for Foster Children and Families

Nicole M. always knew she wanted to help foster and possibly adopt children. She can remember writing about it in a journal when she was 12 years old.

The time finally presented itself. Over a short, but intense, three to four-month period, Nicole and her husband took foster care classes and went through the licensing process to become foster parents. She credits the instructor they worked with at Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA) for helping make the process easier, and for being a wonderful support and resource. The process can seem like an intimidating undertaking, but Nicole says it wasn’t as daunting as she thought it would be.

Within the last two years, Nicole and her husband have fostered 12 children. They went on to adopt five of the children, which Nicole admits is not typical of foster families.

“You can’t see the pain these children have gone through and not be changed by it,” she says.

For them, adoption was a natural next step. Nicole remarks that many foster families may never adopt, but she would encourage more people to consider fostering children.

More than 17,000 children are in Arizona’s foster care system, with about 750 of them expected to “age out” of the system upon turning 18 years old this year. A majority of these children live in group homes and, on average, will move five times during their duration in the system.

AzCA, the state’s oldest and largest statewide child welfare and behavioral health nonprofit, provides for more than 40,000 children, youth and families every year. In 2016, almost 1,800 children in Arizona’s foster care system were provided a home.

The nonprofit offers services that include foster care and adoption, behavioral health and trauma/crisis response, family preservation and reunification, kinship support services, parenting education and transitional and support services.

Its Transitional Living Services, including their Thrive Mentor Program, are designed to aid foster youth between the ages of 16 and 21 who have or will be transitioning out of state or tribal foster care. More than 1,400 youth and young adults transition into independence every year with the support of these services.

May is National Foster Care month, an ideal time to recognize the need to support children in our own community. AzCA provides the services, training and support for families or individuals who may be interested in opening their homes and making a difference in the life of a child.

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