There is always a great need for families willing to open their hearts and home to children in foster care but over the last two months the situation has become desperate as Child Crisis Arizona reports there are only two open beds in the nearly 200 homes currently licensed with the agency. (We anticipate these two beds to be filled within the week.)
“We are one of the larger licensing agencies in Maricopa County,” said Torrie Taj, CEO of Child Crisis Arizona. “We usually see a steady flow of new families coming in once experienced foster families decide it is time to close their license. But recently we’ve seen that flow of new families decrease and now as children are coming into the system we are unable to assist them. We have no homes for any more children.”
Because of the emphasis on family preservation, the number of children in the state’s foster care system has been decreasing since 2016 but the need for caring foster homes is always great. There are currently more than 13,000 children in the foster care system in Arizona.
“There has never been enough foster homes in Maricopa County to address the need,” Taj said. “We need to do more to raise awareness that there are children in foster care who want and need a healthy family to care for them.”
When there are no spaces available in other family member’s homes (kinship) or licensed foster homes the Department of Child Safety sends children to emergency placement shelters/group homes like the one operated by Child Crisis Arizona.
The process to become licensed takes an average of 6 months and includes background checks, an interview, a home inspection and 30 hours of training. A licensing worker is there to help every step of the way.
“We really do our best to ensure our families they are not in this alone,” Taj said. “Children are going through a lot when they come into foster care and we want our families to be prepared to love and support them so that the children aren’t further traumatized.”
Child Crisis Arizona holds foster care and adoption exploration meetings twice a month, one in Phoenix and one in Mesa. The next meeting will be held on July 2 from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information on the process to become licensed visit childcrisisaz.org/what-we-do/adoption-foster-care or call 480-834-9424.