January 2021 Issue 34

A New Year Brings Change

2020 has been a year that many of us will not soon forget. This past year has presented us with unprecedented challenges, obstacles, opportunities, and, unfortunately, loss. Within the foster care community, we have seen enormous strength from our families in navigating the challenges of virtual learning, teleworking, or underemployment, while managing the countless needs that come with being foster families. We have seen the community come together in extraordinary ways to support our families. For example, One4AllAZ.com was created as a way to allow organizations that support foster care to pool resources and jointly meet the needs of families and children. As we move into the new year, let us grieve our losses, celebrate those we love, be thankful for what we have, and appreciate what we have learned.

2021 is a year that will bring some exciting changes to DCS. February 1 is the “Go Live” date for Guardian, the system that will be replacing the current system that we use to manage the fundamental operations of the Department. Guardian will include a Provider Portal for caregivers to access information pertaining to the children in their care, as well as monthly billing information. Be on the lookout for additional information in the coming weeks about Guardian updates.

The second exciting event of the year is integration of physical and behavioral health care for children and youth in foster care, making Arizona the first in the nation to take this step toward improved service delivery. CMDP, the current plan, and Mercy Care have joined forces to create the Comprehensive Health Plan (CHP). DCS and Mercy Care will oversee the provision of physical and behavioral health services for children in foster care, and will provide targeted engagement to enhance service delivery and supports to children and their caregivers. In a nutshell, all children in foster care will have the same insurance plan for both physical and behavioral health, regardless of location in the state. CHP will launch on April 1. Look for more information in the coming months.

The third anticipated event is the rollout of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), which allows funding to be used to help keep children from entering foster care. FFPSA will help families build skills to keep children safe, emphasizing kinship and foster caregivers for children and youth, rather than congregate care settings. FFPSA rolls out this fall. Expect details throughout the year.

Finally, from the Foster Care & Post Permanency Supports team, we want to say, “Thank you!” We look forward to working together in the New Year to support one another, and continue working to achieve our mission to “Successfully engage children and families to ensure safety, strengthen families, and achieve permanency.”

Hair Love

For many people, children included, their hair is a source of pride, it is integral to their sense of identity, and may keep them connected to their culture and other important relationships. Below is the short film, "Hair Love," which explores the challenges an African American father faces when his daughter wants her hair done in a specific way and her mother is not available.

Children in foster care are often placed in homes who are racially, ethnically, and culturally different than their parents. It is important for foster families to learn appropriate skills to maintain the hair of children for which they care.

Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation offers assistance for children to get culturally appropriate hair care. Please see the link below and scroll down to see their preferred partners.

Guardian Update

Neurosequential Model in Caregiving

Light Up a Life

If you know of a family interested in becoming a foster family, please share the link below with them. Have them list your name in the "How did you hear about us" field, for you to be eligible for our $200 referral program. Referral bonuses are sent once the referred family is licensed and has been verified. Only referrals made through this link will be considered for the referral program.

Training With Child Crisis AZ


The Young Adult Program and the National Youth Transition Database (NYTD) Needs your help!

Friendly Reminder: Any young person in foster care who turns 17 between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020, will be contacted by ASU to complete a NYTD survey. Please support ASU and DCS in administering this survey by providing access to the youth in your care. Thank you!

AZ.127 Foster Family Support & Connections

AZ.127 will be offering support via Facebook & Instagram mini-sessions of techniques and tools from the Trust-Based Relational Intervention program. Additionally, they will be matching mentor foster families with foster families in need of support.

Birth to Five Workgroup Training Series (Virtual)

Trauma and the Birth to Five Population –Jan 22, 2021 12p-1:30p

Presenter: Serena Samaniego LAC, IMH-E®

Participants will learn what constitutes trauma for a young child and how early childhood trauma influences a child’s physical and social-emotional development. The training will also focus on identifying trauma-related behaviors and the importance of the caregiver-child relationship in promoting resilience.

Service Provision for the Birth-Five Population - April 22, 2021 12p-1:30p

Presenter: Cathleen Phelan, LCSW, IMH-E®

Participants will learn the clinical intent of different services used to support the Birth to Five population and their caregivers. Training will cover home visiting programs, AzIEP, and PCRA.

Parenting Assistance Resource

Caring Connections for Special Needs

Early Head Start

Arizona Early Intervention Program

Tucson Resource

Spreading Threads is a grassroots, nonprofit community clothing bank that provides free clothes to foster youth in southern Arizona. The organization was founded by two foster moms in Tucson who have fostered and adopted several children in Arizona. Your donations go directly to local children in need. The second Saturday of each month foster, adoptive, and kinship families can visit the clothing bank. A Notice to Provider will be needed. The clothing bank events are held at 1870 W. Prince, Suite 54 in Tucson.

Respite Resource

A Mighty Change of Heart

A Mighty Change of Heart provides FREE duffle bags to foster children with new, age-appropriate items inside: 2 outfits, shoes & socks, underwear, book, diapers/wipes, hygiene items, and more. These bags have the children’s names embroidered on them, and are something that they can call their very own. They have delivered over 3,500 bags across the state.

Please check out their website for more information: www.amchaz.com. If your family, business, church group or school would be interested in holding a donation drive, please contact A Mighty Change of Heart. Items are always needed.

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 with information, authorizations for services, timely communication, and support. It is not intended to discourage or replace direct and regular communication between the DCS Specialist and the out-of-home caregiver. 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.

Children's Heart Gallery

More than 70 percent of the children in need of forever families are adopted by their relatives or foster parents. For the remainder, special recruitment efforts like the Heart Gallery are used to connect them with a forever family.

The children featured in the Heart Gallery represent all ethnic groups and range from toddlers to teenagers. Some have special behavioral or medical needs, some are without siblings, and others are in groups of siblings.


Heather is a sweet and caring teenager with a great sense of humor. She has determination and drive to achieve any goals that she sets for herself. Heather would describe herself as a “typical teenager.” She hopes for a two-mom family or a LGBTQ affirming home that would be willing to take her to church, as her faith is important to her. She hopes for a family that can teach her some independence, while simultaneously providing stability, comfort and love. Heather was born in 2005.

Joseph, Joe & Josiah

Joseph is well-spoken, loving and sweet. He enjoys watching TV shows and playing with Pokémon cards. He likes playing board games, and his favorite is Trouble. Joseph’s go-to video games are Mario and Sonic.

Joe loves food. He is happy and always smiling. He has the best time playing with his brothers. Joe does well in school and enjoys interactions with peers.

Josiah loves to give hugs. He has a charismatic personality. He is very helpful, independent, and a quick learner. He loves showing others how to play games on his tablet. He enjoys sports, and really wants to learn how to play baseball.

Joseph and Joe were born in 2012, and Josiah was born in 2014. The boys long for a loving and stable home where they can be together.


Keegan is a super dynamic young man, who loves to play all sports, especially football. Keegan is very focused on football and hopes to have a career in football, at least through his college years. Keegan performs well in school and is a positive leader. He loves animals, and would like to have dogs in the home rather than cats. (Keegan believes that he’s allergic to cat dander.) He likes 80’s & 90’s hip hop music and all gospel music. A family who likes to go to church is a plus. Keegan prefers a traditional two-parent home with one of the parents having the time and ability to provide strong structure, routine, and activities with him. Keegan would like a strong male role model. He will also benefit from nurturing and loving attention from both parents.

Keegan was born in 2006.

AZ Families Thrive is published monthly by the Arizona Department of Child Safety to inform foster, kinship and adoptive families across the state. Ricky Denwood created this edition, please feel free to email with questions, comments or content you may be interested in seeing in future editions. 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

Created By
Ricky Denwood