August 2018, Issue 5

Easing Back-to-School Stress

Back-to-school is a time of year full of emotions for parents and children alike. Excitement, anxiety, and anticipation are plentiful. Going back to school can be an event that triggers developmental grieving for children in foster care. The children can experience and exhibit a variety of emotions. Tantrums, anger outbursts, increased hyperactivity, asking more questions than typical, or isolation are just a few examples of behaviors that back-to-school stress can cause.

Here are a few tips on reducing stress and anxiety for children in the new school year:

  • Discuss how it might feel to enter a new environment, and validate the child’s feelings.
  • Talk about the positive, such as seeing friends, recess, etc.
  • Plan ahead. Take the child to see their new environment. Participate in meet the teacher night. Show them where their classroom is located.
  • Discuss drop-off and pick-up times well in advance. Post them in the home so the child can review if they have questions.
  • Be open and empathetic.

For more information on how to help children handle back to school stress, check out this article from Kidshealth.org: Battling the Butterflies

DCS Summer Youth Conference

From July 11th-13th, around 100 teens and young adults attended the DCS Summer Youth Conference, held in Prescott, AZ. They attended workshops, learned about various resources available to them, made friends, danced, and had a lot of fun! On July 13th, the youth discussed their thoughts and ideas on how to improve life in the foster care system with a DCS Leadership Panel consisting of DCS Director Greg McKay, Deputy Director of Support Services Mike Faust, Director of Communications Cynthia Weiss, Chief Quality Improvement Officer Katherine Guffey, and Office of the Ombudsman Family Advocate Sarah Bruce. One of the most important topics that they discussed was the need for foster families for teens. Many of the youth reported that their strongest connections were with their foster parents. They explained that even after they leave the foster care system, they still want someone whom they can call for advice, or someone to attend their weddings!

Youth leadership presenting to DCS leadership

Register Now for the AZ Families Thrive Tucson Conference

Earn Your Required Renewal Hours

Register By August 3, 2018

Register now for the Tucson AZ Families Thrive Conference. It will be held Friday, August 17th, at New Life Bible Fellowship Church in Tucson, AZ. This is the second 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.

Participants will have the opportunity to hear from the keynote presenter Barb Clark, an adoptive mother of four who is parenting a child diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Break-out sessions will include topics such as implementing trauma-informed care, navigating the mental health system, and processing grief when a child leaves your home. During lunch there will be a panel of youth in care discussing various topics including the need for teens to be in foster homes.

The third AZ Families Thrive Conference will be Thursday, October 25th in Tempe at Redemption Church; registration information will be available in late August.

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 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.

Volunteer for the Children's Heart Gallery

The Children's Heart Gallery harnesses the power of photography to capture each child's unique spirit and story in a profile. The photojournalistic profiles are featured in exhibits online, in art galleries and in larger public forums like libraries, airports and malls. Heart Gallery exhibits have helped raise awareness about adoption through foster care and have found homes for hundreds of children.

Photo Shoot events are held several times throughout the year in Arizona. The events are a time for the child to have quality, professional photographs taken to be used to create photojournalistic profiles for the children.

Photo shoots are staffed by agency and community volunteers. Volunteers can participate in a variety of roles at a photo shoot. The roles:

• Biographer-create short biographical descriptions using provided questions as a guide.

• Photographer-This position requires extensive professional experience as a photographer. Requires multiple high-resolution (we prefer 300 dpi) shots per child for publication in jpeg format (web site, print fliers, large posters, etc.).

• Guide-There are two Guides assigned to each child. The Guides are responsible for escorting the children while they are at the photo shoot and for completing the biography questionnaire with the child.

• Hair Stylist: This position requires the ability to cut and style all types of children/teens hair (a high need for skill in African American/curly hair) at the shoot, in addition to bringing your own supplies.

Upon sign up additional event details will be provided. For questions or additional information please email volunteer@azdcs.gov

Meet Toni & Leitrei

Toni and Leitrai are a dynamic duo!

Toni describes herself as “busy, funny, helpful, honest, loving, popular, shy, sociable and talkative.” She enjoys watching movies, swimming, and spending time with her friends and siblings. Toni has a real passion for action movies, specifically all movies with sharks.

Leitrai can be described as happy, funny, active, and loving. Leitrai is an active boy who enjoys spending time with his siblings, playing on his tablet and skateboarding. He also enjoys playing and watching basketball.

Both Toni & Leitrai would like to go to Disneyland someday. This sibling group needs a family that has patience and is willing to take the time to build a loving and trusting relationship with them.

Meet Shayla

Shayla has a wonderful personality and many interests. Like many teens, she loves playing basketball, listening to music, and going to the pool. Her favorite foods are pizza and carne asada fries. But it’s not all just the fun stuff, Shayla is an active journal-keeper, and an amazing writer. Someday, she hopes to apply that skill with her love of helping little kids, going to college to become a teacher.

Support #LoveUp Foundation

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 addition, 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

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