Arizona is always in need of foster families. But the road to becoming a licensed foster home requires many steps – a background check, fingerprint clearance, foster care parenting classes, a home study and a home safety inspection by the Office of Licensing and Regulation. The process can take 3 to 6 months or even longer.
Arizona Helping Hands (“AHH”) is the largest provider of basic essential needs to boys and girls in foster care in the State of Arizona. In 2016 alone, the Organization provided 2,003 beds and cribs, 920 birthday packages, clothing, diapers, personal care packages and much more to Arizona’s children in foster care. “We are staunch supporters of foster parents – those individuals who choose to open their hearts and homes to children in need,” President & CEO Dan Shufelt tells us. “We want the road to becoming a licensed foster home to be less of a burden for families who make the decision to #StandUp and help these kids.”
AHH has now launched a new program to assist foster families in meeting the requirements of the LIFE SAFETY INSPECTION. Historically, families have had to expend their own funds to meet the “check the box” items on the inspection list, including magnetized cabinet safety locks, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and a customized first aid kit. AHH will now provide Foster Licensing Aids, including the items listed here, to families who are finishing their foster licensing process.
“All of the items on the list require interested families to expend their funds to acquire. By providing these devices at no cost to foster families, we hope to make it easier to become licensed, resulting in additional homes who will consider taking on this so important role” Shufelt says. One foster family assisted through this program wrote to say “I’m so grateful for your assistance. The cost of meeting the Home Inspection requirements is a burden on those who just want to HELP the kiddos. You took the pressure off of my back – exactly what is needed by foster families struggling to make ends meet. Thank you!”
According to recently published reports, almost half of all children placed in foster care are in non-licensed “Kinship” placements. These caregivers, frequently grandparents, receive no governmental assistance for their service providing care and support to youngsters who have experienced trauma and disruption in their short lives. With limited resources, the prospect of meeting all the requirements to become a licensed home are diminished. It is truly a sacrifice for grandparents raising grandchildren to be asked to expend hundreds of dollars on these essential items.
“We need more foster families”, Shufelt tells us. “We believe this program is another step toward improving the lives of boys and girls in foster care and ensuring they live in a safe home environment.” Funding for this program came from donations through the Arizona Foster Tax Credit program. With new legislative changes in 2016, married couples can now donate $1,000 to Arizona Helping Hands and receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for their contribution. Donors can also can claim the tax credit on their 2016 individual tax return for donations made through April 15, 2017. Shufelt says “This support has been a life changer for Arizona Helping Hands. It has allowed us to grow our services and expand programs to #StandUp for the 17,000 boys and girls in Arizona’s foster care system.”
For information on this topic or to contact the author email firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn about Arizona Helping Hands at www.azhelpinghands.org, and read more of Dan’s blog posts at http://www.azhelpinghands.org/blog-post/ For information on supporting Arizona Helping Hands with your tax dollars visit www.azfostertaxcredit.org.