August 2019 Issue 17

Back in the Habit of School

As the school summer break comes to an end, this time of year can be filled with many emotions. Parents are often eager to get back into the routine and structure of the school year, while kids are experiencing both excitement to reengage friendships, as well as the loss of the freedom that summer break brings.

Kids in foster care may be experiencing the anxiety of a new school or fearing that friends will learn of their change in living situations. Biological children may be struggling to cope with what their friends may think of their new foster siblings. Whatever emotions are flowing within your home, it is important to validate all of them, even if they seem unfounded. Here are some tips to start the school year off on a positive note:

  • Build excitement about the new school year by exploring the new experiences, activities, and even friendships your child(ren) will have this year. Assist them in researching which activities or sports they would like to participate in. Also keep in mind that some children struggle to manage emotions appropriately, and may need to be reminded how to best express their excitement or anxiety.
  • Let them take ownership of their routine and activities. Allow them to make their own lunch, or pack their backpacks. Have them schedule their routine and walk you through it. This encourages independence, increases confidence, and teaches important life skills.
  • Create a dialog with teachers about your child(ren). If a child in foster care is returning to their home school, their teacher may not know they are now in a different living situation. If the child is going to a new school, it is important to communicate that to their teacher, so they can help the child feel welcomed and safe.
  • Be involved with your child’s education. Check in with teachers frequently to get ahead of any challenges early on, rather than waiting until the end of the semester, when handling the challenge may be overwhelming for the child. It’s important that you get regular updates about day-to-day school life to help your child successfully manage distractions, keep healthy relationships, and get the necessary support services to optimize his/her learning experiences.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

It is important to understand, as a foster parent, what ESSA means for you. ESSA contains key provisions that promote educational success and stability for children in foster care. It requires state and local educational and child welfare agencies to work together to effectively meet the educational needs of children in foster care.

Some Truths about Telling Lies

One of the most frustrating behaviors a parent can face is a child telling lies. Generally when a child tells a lie, the parent has an emotionally charged response due to his/her experiences of “when someone lies they need a punishment.” Additionally parents often jump to the conclusion that no one will trust you if you lie. It is important for us to understand that when children lie, they do so for several reasons, such as: to avoid getting into trouble, to control the situation, or to avoid negative feelings or harsh criticisms. The key to helping children be truthful is creating a positive, safe, relational environment in which the child feels able to share what can sometimes be scary truths. Below is a 10 minute video titled “Why Kids Lie, and How to End it Now,” by Dr. Bryan Post of the Post Institute. Dr. Post describes a method of helping children be more truthful.

2019 AZ Families Thrive Conference: REGISTRATION OPEN

AZ Families Thrive Conferences are hosted by the Department for licensed foster families and unlicensed kinship caregivers in 2019. Licensed foster parents who attend the entire day can receive 6 hours of advanced training credit that qualifies as their required renewal hours. Continental breakfast and light lunch will be included for attendees.

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

The keynote address will be given by Adrian McLemore. Adrian has a very dynamic personal story. His open and honest account of his challenging life experiences, his determination to succeed, and his relatable persona make for a dynamic interaction. In this keynote presentation, Adrian has an open, entertaining, intimate & interactive conversation with the audience about how they can take off their 'mask' and in turn, help those in their care to take off their mask as well. Adrian discusses how he went from not only surviving the foster care system, but thriving in it with the help of foster parents AND case workers. Adrian encourages the audience to embrace the challenges of life, armed with the tools they already have in their possession.


Saturday September 7, 2019 8a-4p | Sheraton Phoenix Crescent| 2620 W. Dunlap Ave| Phoenix AZ 85021


Friday September 20, 2019 8a-4p| Pantano Christian Church| 1755 S. Houghton Rd.| Tucson AZ 85748

Refer a Friend

If you know of someone (a friend, family member, acquaintance), who may be interested in becoming a foster parent, please send them this email and have them fill out the form at the link below to learn more.

Be sure to have the person you’re referring add your name in the “How did you hear about us?” section of the form.

Not only do you help grow the foster parent community, but you’ll receive a $200 gift card for every foster parent you refer and assist in becoming licensed. As you know, the licensing process can often be confusing and lead to many questions. An experienced foster parent can be the greatest support to an incoming family. See a great example below in our #Loveup Moment.

Thanks in advance for helping share the incredible experience of becoming a foster parent with others. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

#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 was nominated by Katy from Garden House group home. Here is what she submitted. In December of 2018 Julio and Rio Godinez and their two daughters attended a Christmas dinner put on by their church for foster children. Little did they know that their lives would be forever changed that night. Rio had previously met the oldest three of a sibling group in her Sunday school class, but did not realize they had three younger siblings. It was during this event that they had the chance to meet all six of the children and instantly felt a special connection with each of them. They spoke with the group home staff member who had brought the children to the dinner and were informed that the six children were about to be separated into two foster homes one week before Christmas. This devastated the Godinez family who, after their first encounter, could see just how deeply bonded the sibling were. They left the dinner that night saying to themselves that it wasn't a question of "if" they would commit to keeping those precious kids together, but "how." Although the idea of growing from a family of four to a family of ten overnight seemed extremely daunting, and they experienced numerous unforeseen setbacks along the way, they never wavered in their commitment to keep the children together and make them a part of their family forever. Over the course of the following few months, the Godinez family selflessly rerouted their home and entire lives to prepare for and accommodate the needs of the six children. Their dedication and willingness to uproot their way of life in order to preserve the family bond of six kids is rare and extraordinary. The Godinez family story is a beautiful example of true commitment and love, even when it's not easy and requires sacrifice. They are an inspiration to so many.

Respite Resource

Tucson Resource

Training Opportunities Statewide


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 on the website 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


Meet Jedidiah (who also goes by "Isaac"), an energetic and happy young man who enjoys listening to music and playing with Nerf guns. Isaac likes to spend most of his time outside, however, playing basketball or going for a swim with his friends. On the off chance he spends time indoors, Isaac likes to listen to music and play video games, and practice different dance moves. Isaac was born in 2005.

Abrianna & Serenity

Abrianna and Serenity both love to ride their bikes and their favorite food is spaghetti. Abrianna is very creative and loves to draw and read. Her favorite books are the Magic Treehouse series and her favorite music is the The Greatest Showman. If she could go any place on earth, Abrianna said she’d like to go to Hollywood and see the huge Christmas tree.

Serenity likes to play on the computer and iPad, play with Barbies, and play board games. She also likes to color, sing, and read. Serenity is also a great helper around the house, helping with laundry, setting the table, and making her bed. She loves movies and going out for ice cream. If she could go anywhere in the world, she’d pick Disneyland.

Abrianna was born in 2005 and Serenity was born in 2007.


Mercedes loves to draw and enjoys spending time in the garden. Right now, she is growing okra in her garden, which happens to be her favorite vegetable. Mercedes loves to read during her alone time, but also enjoys talking during social time. She is self-confident, fun loving and expressive. Mercedes needs a home that can provide consistency, structure, and a safe space where she will feel accepted for who she is. Mercedes was born in 2003.

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

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