February 2020 Issue 23

Teen Dating Violence Month

One of the most important tasks of a foster/adoptive parent or kinship caregiver is to provide normalcy for the children and youth in their care. For foster and adoptive parents, the task of providing a normal environment for teens can seem insurmountable. Teens may be dealing with the reasons they are in care or adopted, as well as with the natural emotional and physical changes that puberty brings as youth enter adolescence. During this phase of growth, teens want to start dating and learning more about relationships. Sometimes foster and adoptive parents feel as though a youth is not emotionally ready, so it can be difficult for parents to be supportive. It is important for parents to provide education around healthy relationships.

According to LoveisRespect.org, 1 in 3 teens will experience teen dating violence. Youth in foster care may be at higher risk due to their histories. Dating and engaging in relationships during the teen years is developmentally appropriate and allowing youth to do so is consistent with Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standards. it is important in our roles of foster parents, adoptive parents, kin caregivers, case managers, CASAs or others in the youth’s life to discuss topics with them, such as setting healthy boundaries, trust, mutual respect, consent to sex, how to say no, risky behaviors, and clear communication in relationships. This list is not exhaustive, but it is a start. Below is a link to LoveisRespect.org, where you can find an extensive list of resources and tools. Additionally you will find a Healthy Relationship Quiz, and a How Would You Help? Quiz, which give you tools to starting a conversation with your teen.

For teens in foster care CMDP covers family planning services including pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted infection counseling among other services. Below is a link to the CMDP handbook.

Out with the Old, In with the New

One of the initiatives that the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) has been working on over the last few years is modernizing our technology. One of the projects currently underway is moving from CHILDS, the current system used within the Department, to the new Guardian system. Guardian is a cloud-based service that is built to meet the diverse needs of DCS.

The Guardian team is hosting two webcasts to provide you information on training, invoicing, and billing, as well as more specific information pertaining to you. The links below can be used to access the webcast of your choice on the dates and times listed below.

Neurosequential Model for Caregiving: Sequence of Engagement

Live Webinar: Sexualized Behaviors in Children

Trust Based Relational Intervention Training

Empowered Young Parents Program

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!

Refer a Friend

We'd love your help encouraging new people to attend our Foster Care & Adoption Information sessions. Feel free to print a few of the flyers below and post them in your local community.

If you know someone interested in foster care or adoption, share the link below with them and be sure they add your name in the "How did you hear about us" section. If they get licensed, you get a $200 gift card. To qualify for the gift card, the referral must be made through this link, and the interested party should not already be in the licensing process.

#LoveUp Moment

DCS is partnering with The Johnjay & Rich #Loveup Foundation to honor and recognize Arizona’s foster and adoptive families. The #Loveup Foundation was created to promote the movement of “spreading love and kindness.” As part of the movement, the #Loveup Foundation will monthly recognize a foster or adoptive family in a ” #Loveup Moment” for their commitment and dedication to the children of Arizona. The family recognized in the #LoveUp Moment will receive a $100 gift card, courtesy of #LoveUp Foundation. To nominate a family click the button below.

This month's #LoveUp Moment winner is Brittani and Stephen Smith. They were nominated by Melissa Fortier, their Adoption Specialist, here is what was submitted: Brittani and Stephen Smith are an unlicensed fictive kinship placement for two of the boys on my caseload. The children have been in care since 2010, with 26 placements between them. Brittani met the boys while supervising visits between the boys. Additionally, she happened to work at the level 1 facility, where one of the boys was placed. Both boys have experienced significant trauma, and have significant behavioral and educational needs, which have resulted in aggression, and even hospitalization.

The Smiths consistently put the children first and ensure that they make it to all appointments. They make certain that the boys have all of the services that they need, to help them gain the skills necessary to be successful in the future. Brittani and Stephen have taken these children into their home, and have provided them with stability, love, and support, with unwavering thought for their future. The Smiths’ commitment to providing permanency for the boys have never wavered while overcoming the obstacles that come with parenting children that have experienced trauma.

Training Resource- Maricopa County

The Family Education Program offers workshops, classes, support groups, legal clinics, and family-friendly activities. All of these programs center around teaching positive parenting skills that build strong families.

Child Crisis Arizona is one of the only educational providers in the area that offers classes specific to a father’s unique role in parenting, as well as grandparents or other kin raising children related to them. Our program also provides education for those divorcing to develop a plan to co-parent. Certain services, including classes, activities, and guardianship clinics, are also offered in Spanish.

Training Resource-Tucson

Casa de los Niños has a comprehensive offering of training resources available in Pima county. Trainings are offered in both English and Spanish.

Educational Resource

Respite Resource

Tucson Resource

Tucson Clothing 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.


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.

The Children's Heart Gallery heightens the visibility of some of the state's most vulnerable boys and girls by using the power of photography to capture their unique spirits and stories. The profiles featured here are also displayed in exhibits in churches, airports and malls, all with the purpose of connecting these children with forever families. Check out our new and improved site at childrensheartgallery.org.

Meet the Kids


Tahtyana is a polite and energetic young lady who has a real artsy side. Tahtyana loves to color, draw and spend time doing various arts and crafts. Her favorite thing to draw is a cheetah. She has recently taken up baking and learned how to make strawberry cupcakes with vanilla frosting. Tahtyana prides herself on memorizing recipes, and not having to reference the recipe while baking. If Tahtyana had three wishes, she would ask for Legos, to live in a huge house with twenty rooms (and a giant pool), and to have the opportunity to make all different kinds of cake. Tahtyana was born in 2010.


Dylan loves to go swimming, play basketball, and play on his Xbox. He is a fun-loving kid and has a great smile! His favorite food is macaroni and cheese, and he loves to go out to eat at Smash Burger or Sweet Tomatoes. On hot summer days, Dylan would prefer to watch movies and play video games, but when the weather is not so hot, he likes to go swimming. Dylan’s favorite television shows are “Wolverine” and “The Avengers.” Dylan is described as caring, creative, curious, funny, imaginative, intelligent, and likeable.

The best fit family for Dylan would be a supportive, two-parent home or a single father. Dylan would do best as an only child, but is open to having older siblings. Dylan reports he would like to have a dog in his forever home, but also adds, “I do not like snakes.” Dylan is ready to find his forever home. Dylan was born in 2004.

Inez & Savannah

Inez is a quiet, calm and athletic young boy. He likes to play Fortnight and Call of Duty. He enjoys playing all sports, with the exception of volleyball and tennis. He would like to try out for a football team in the future.

Inez loves to eat hot wings and pizza with his sister Savannah. Their favorite spot is Buffalo Wild Wings. They enjoy each other's company and would love to spend more time together playing video games or sports.

Savannah is a clever, strong-willed and compassionate young girl. She likes to play basketball, and is currently trying out for the team at her high school.

Savannah was born in 2004. Inez was born in 2007.

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