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June 2018, Issue 3

It's Cool to Be a Foster Parent!

Sunday, May 6 may have set a new record for high temperatures, but at the 11th Annual Blue Ribbon Event at Thoroughbred Nissan in Tucson, it was cool to be a foster parent! Sponsored by the Foster and Adoptive Council of Tucson and Thoroughbred Nissan, the event included bounce houses, train rides, face painting and balloon animals for the children. Adults had the opportunity to hear community speakers and win raffle prizes. And everyone enjoyed the cookout — which included hot dogs, hamburgers, quesadillas, chips and dessert.

Speakers at the event included two foster care alumni, who shared portions of their story. Dimon Sanders, Miss Teen Arizona, talked about the importance of youth learning to trust again. Kevin Hart, the owner of the Tucson Culver's franchises (pictured left) talked about what life was like for him growing up in Minnesota's foster care system and encouraged foster parents not to give up when the going gets tough. Pima County Judge, the Hon. Joan L. Wagener, (pictured center) shared about the importance of foster parents understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES). Jamie Robinson, recently retired from DCS, (pictured right) encouraged parents to continue their important work. Robinson received a lifetime achievement award from FACT for more than 28 years of service to children and their families.

You Can Still Register for the AZ Families Thrive Prescott Conference

Earn Your Required Renewal Hours — Registration Closes May 31.

Foster and kinship families still have time to register for the Prescott AZ Families Thrive Conference. It will be held Friday, June 8, at Heights Church in Prescott. You can register for the free conference here. Registration will close May 31.

This is the first of three AZ Families Thrive Conferences hosted by the Department for licensed foster families and unlicensed kinship caregivers in 2018. Licensed foster parents who attend the entire day can receive 6 hours of advanced training credit that qualifies as their required renewal hours.

While unlicensed kinship families are not required to take training, DCS believes that these trainings will be valuable and will help support their placement needs.

The second AZ Families Thrive Conference will be Friday, August 17 in Tucson at New Life Bible Fellowship Church; registration information will be available in late June. Registration for the Phoenix AZ Families Thrive Conference, which will be Thursday, October 25, will open in early September. It will be held at Redemption Church in Tempe.

Why Immunize your child?

From Dr. Sara Park, Chief Medical Officer, CMDP

DCS policy for children in out-of-home care is that all children are immunized unless there is a medical contraindication or a religious objection to vaccinations. The religious objection permitted is the biologic or adoptive parent’s objection, and has to be staffed with the CMDP medical director and assistant attorney general.

Serious Infections still exist and can be prevented by the vaccines. Thanks to vaccines, many diseases are becoming less common, but they still exist. Most parents now have never seen the severe effects of diseases like polio, measles, or whooping cough. It is easy to think that these diseases are gone, but we have seen them return and cause serious illness, outbreaks and in some cases, death.

Vaccine preventable diseases do not stop at the border. Diseases are still present in other countries and can easily be brought back to the United States by travelers who have visited other countries. These illnesses then spread in communities where there are unimmunized, under-immunized and non-immune children and adults. Lack of immunization can cause serious and sometimes life threatening illnesses.

Vaccines are safe. Before a vaccine is approved and given to children it is tested extensively. Information on the vaccine is evaluated to determine its safety and effectiveness before any new recommendations are made. Nearly all children can be safely vaccinated, but there are exceptions and some children may not be able to receive some vaccines:

  • Children with allergies to something in a vaccine.
  • Children with weakened immune systems due to an illness or a medical treatment, such as chemotherapy.

Children need protection Early in Life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sets the U.S. childhood immunization schedule based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a group of medical and public health experts. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) also approve this schedule. The recommended childhood immunization schedule is designed to protect infants and children early in life, when they are most vulnerable.

Vaccines Mean Fewer Missed Work Days and School Days. If your child gets a vaccine-preventable disease, they may have to miss school or day care for many days or weeks. Time lost from work to care for a sick child can burden your family financially. Many vaccine-preventable diseases can also cause lasting disabilities that result in expensive medical bills and long-term care.

Vaccination Protects Your Family, Friends, and Community. Getting your child vaccinated helps protect others in your community—like your neighbor who has cancer and cannot get certain vaccines, or your best friend’s newborn baby who is too young to be fully immunized. When everyone in a community who can get vaccinated does get vaccinated, it prevents the spread of disease and can slow or stop an outbreak. Choosing to protect your child with vaccines is a choice to protect your family, friends, and neighbors, too.

Head Start Programs Help Kids in Foster Care

The importance of early intervention for all children cannot be understated, especially for children in out-of-home (OOH) care. The Arizona Head Start Programs provide high quality early childhood education, nutrition, health, mental health, disabilities, and social services with a strong parent involvement focus.

DCS and the Arizona Department of Education have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), whose purpose is to outline how Head Start programs and DCS will work to improve access to Early Head Start and Head Start programs throughout the state for children in foster care.

The following are a few key and critical components of the MOU that are important for foster and kinship parents to be aware of:

  • Children in foster care will be given priority placement for Head Start services for the Regional Head Start Grantees that participates in the MOU;
  • Head Start will provide training and information to DCS staff about Head Start services and enrollment process;
  • Allows children in foster care placed in Head Start to attend without immunization and other medical records, proof of residency, birth certificates, or other documents and to give the family reasonable time to present these documents;
  • Eliminate service boundaries for children in foster care (when it is in the best interest of the child and family);
  • Support goals established by other services providers; and
  • DCS will refer caregivers of children in foster care who may be eligible for Head Start services to the appropriate Head Start program.

To locate a Head Start program in your child’s area, click here.

Straight From the Heart

This Arizona family captured the moment they told their daughter her adoption was going to be finalized. Read the whole story here.

Let Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation Improve Your Children's Summer!!

Warmline Supports Kinship and Foster Families

The Foster Parent Warmline is available for kinship families and licensed foster parents. While not an emergency number, Warmline staff can assist parents with information, assistance with authorizations for services, timely communication, and support. It is not intended to discourage or replace direct and regular communication with your DCS Specialist and the foster parents. You can reach the Warmline by calling 1-877-KIDSNEEDU (1-877-543-7633) and selecting Option 3. Warmline staff are available during business hours. Callers also have the option of leaving a voice message.

The Children's Heart Gallery features Arizona children who are free for adoption and want a forever family. While it is a very effective tool for finding families for our waiting children, it also makes the children vulnerable to negative intrusions into their lives. Please help us protect them. If you recognize any of these children or see them in your community, please respect their privacy.

Meet Adrian and Jordin

Adrian (left) has a fascination with ninjas and samurais, saying that he is proud of his samurai skills and costumes. “I made ninja swords out of paper,” he adds proudly. Hopefully his artistic skill will continue to grow: he wants to be an illustrator or animator when he grows up, focusing on Chinese art.

Outdoors, Adrian likes to ride his bike and play basketball. He also enjoys playing Minecraft and various games on his Nintendo DS. In school, his favorite subject is PE. His favorite food is pizza.

When asked for three wishes, Adrian said that he would like to have a swimming pool, wild animals and dinosaurs. He would like to visit Jurassic Park one day, to see the dinosaurs.

Adrian was born in 2007.

Jordin (right) loves to play at the park, especially when he can play soccer with his best friends. Indoors, he enjoys playing Nintendo DS, with Lego Batman and Mortal Combat being his favorite games.

In school, Jordin is beginning to learn math and he says he is really enjoying it. He also says that his math teacher is very nice.

When it comes to food, Jordin likes apples and pizza – Peter Piper Pizza is his favorite. Halloween is his favorite holiday.

Being a brother is important to Jordin, and it is something he says he is good at. Jordin was born in 2010.

Meet Kimberly

Kimberly loves to laugh, and will keep any family smiling! She is an active girl who loves to play soccer, volleyball, basketball and swim. Kimberly also enjoys doing arts and crafts and collecting jewelry. Mariah Carey is her favorite music artist and she will be able to sing along to any and every song!

Kimberly enjoys school, she is a good student and states that science is her favorite subject while math is her “easiest” subject.

The best fit home for Kimberly would be one that is nurturing. She will do well in a family that provides loving guidance as well as consistent structure and boundaries. Kimberly would like to be in a home with a mom and a dad or two moms. She will do best in a home where she is the only child, or the youngest child.

She will do well with older siblings to look up to as positive role models. Kimberly will thrive in an active family that spends a lot of time together and provides her with the encouragement and the attention she needs and deserves. Kimberly was born in 2006.

Editor's Note

This is my last issue of AZ Families Thrive, as I am retiring from state service and moving to Pennsylvania to be near my family. I have enjoyed my time with the Department and working to support you, our amazing foster, adoptive and kinship families! You are changing lives — forever. Thank you for all you do.

— Roxann L. Miller

AZ Families Thrive is published monthly by the Arizona Department of Child Safety to inform foster, kinship and adoptive families across the state. Roxann L. Miller is the editor. Sign up to receive email updates when new issues are posted.

Interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent? Call us: 1-877-KIDS-NEEDU (1-877-543-7633) or email us: FosterAdoption@azdcs.gov. Visit us online: www.azkidsneedu.gov.

To report child abuse or neglect: 1-888-SOS-CHILD

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