Monday, April 6, 2015

Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA) to Transition to CODAC Behavioral Health Services

TUCSON, Ariz.  – The Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA) has transitioned from being operated under Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA) to being operated under CODAC Behavioral Health Services. The transition was effective April 1, 2015.


SACASA is the largest provider of sexual assault services in the state of Arizona and has been a trusted resource for sexual assault survivors since 1973. Through SACASA, thousands of survivors have been provided with a safe place to gain strength, learn coping skills and develop trusting, caring relationships. SACASA operates 24-hour sexual assault crisis lines in English and Spanish; provides 24-hour intervention, advocacy, information and referral services; assists with reporting sexual assault; provides hospital response and medical forensic exams; and offers individual, group and family counseling as well as peer support to help facilitate the transformation from victim to survivor. SACASA has two locations in Tucson and one in Nogales, Arizona.


Services through SACASA will continue without interruption due to funding by state and federal grants, the Pima County Health Department, the TMC Foundation and donations provided by generous individuals and businesses.  Services provided through a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant will continue to be provided by SACASA staff working for AzCA until the grant concludes in September. CODAC will apply to take over administration of that grant starting October 1.


AzCA – a child welfare and behavioral health agency – acquired SACASA in 2006 to ensure that Southern Arizona continued to have services dedicated to survivors of sexual violence. Since then, AzCA has maintained SACASA’s core services while also providing critical fundraising support. Nearly two years ago, however, AzCA identified that SACASA would be better served and sustained under the management of an agency that provides adult services so they began the search for the right organization.


CODAC Behavioral Health Services is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that was founded in 1970. It provides treatment services to youth, adults and families ages 6 and older who are living with trauma, mental health disorders and addiction. CODAC has extensive experience in providing a continuum of professional, trauma-informed care, including psychiatric medical care, therapy, case management and peer support.  These services can further complement the care survivors are already receiving from SACASA’s victims’ advocates, therapists and forensic nurses.


“Every 2.5 minutes someone is the victim of sexual violence. As a community, we simply cannot not have these services available. Too many suffer; too many need our help,” says CODAC President & CEO Dennis Regnier, MA. “CODAC is proud to be able to provide SACASA with the infrastructure it needs to be able to continue its life-saving work for many men and women in southern Arizona. The Boards and leadership of AzCA and CODAC believe this transition will result in growth and sustainability for SACASA so that it may continue its critical role in the community.”

AzCA President & CEO Denise Ensdorff, LCSW adds: "We want to thank all of you who have supported the mission of SACASA over the years and we believe you will not only be pleased with this partnership, but also impressed with the success and improved sustainability of SACASA in future years."

Monday, December 8, 2014

Arizona’s Children Association Tucson Headquarters Moving

Tucson office move will accommodate growth and increase cross-utilization of programs by clientele

Arizona’s Children Association’s five-year strategic plan to improve services and better utilize resources has led the leadership and Board to the decision to move their various programs from around the Tucson metropolitan area to one location.  The move will accommodate the growth of the many programs throughout Tucson as well as incorporate the many agencies with whom Arizona’s Children Association has merged over the years, including The Parent Connection, KARE and Las Familias.  Until now, as Arizona’s Children Association programs have expanded it was natural that multiple physical sites became home to different programs. Foster care services would be available at one location, while parenting classes were a few miles away. Behavioral health services were even further up the road. In addition to the disconnect that resulted between the programs being geographically separated, the agency has struggled with space restraints at the Tucson Corporate campus on 8th Ave.
This month, Arizona’s Children Association will move to its new location, near the intersection of Ajo Way and Alvernon (3716 E. Columbia Street, Suite 120, Tucson, AZ 85714).  The new site will allow these programs and their clientele to connect in ways that Arizona’s Children has never been able to provide before – the same client can receive multiple services at the same site, expanding their knowledge and usage of the many services available in the process.

Unfortunately, this great opportunity comes with a bittersweet departure from the very building that Arizona’s Children Association has called home since 1921. Mrs. Minnie Davenport first proposed the organization of a Children’s Home in May of 1912. On November 27, 1914, Mrs. Julia Attix donated 7.5 acres of her homestead for the purpose of constructing a permanent home to serve the children in Arizona. The land donation was not fully executed until the organization raised enough funds to begin design and construction of the home. In November 1921, that location, which is now affectionately known as “Angel House” in appreciation of support from Angel Charities, opened as a home for up to sixty neglected and orphaned children.
With so much history, the staff and leadership are sad to be leaving the original Children’s Home location. However, over the last century, the agency has been able to provide a myriad of programs and services to thousands of children and their families from that location and they intend to expand that legacy through the new facility. The campus in Tucson will transfer ownership later this month.
An open house was held in early December to officially
“pass the keys” to Pasadera’s CEO Chuck Burbank.

The new owners for the Tucson main campus, Pasadera Behavioral Health Network, adore the campus. Pasadera is the merged entity of SAMHC and Compass Behavioral Health. It gives them the opportunity to bring multiple sites onto one - similar to Arizona’s Children Association, but at a smaller scale.

"We intend to continue the tradition that Arizona’s Children Association began and sustained for more than 100 years to be good stewards of the land, the buildings, the city of South Tucson, and the greater community,” said CEO Chuck Burbank of Pasadera.
To learn more about AzCA’s history, visit us online at

Friday, September 19, 2014

October 10th Is 6th Annual PJs & Eggs!

Once again, Hickman’s Family Farms will partner with some of the favorite breakfast restaurants around the Valley to celebrate PJs & Eggs. The sixth annual event will be held on “World Egg Day”: Friday, October 10, 2014. The “breakfast for dinner” will begin at 5:00 p.m. at participating locations to benefit Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA) foster care programs statewide.

Customers who have breakfast for dinner at each participating restaurant on October 10 are invited to wear their pajamas and asked to bring a new pair (any size for kids ages newborn to18) to be donated to children in the AzCA’s foster care programs. In return, each customer will receive a certificate for a free dozen Hickman’s eggs. Some participating restaurants will also donate a portion of the proceeds from the evening to AzCA.

The current list of participating restaurants includes: Café 25:35 (Buckeye); Chaffin’s Diner (Tucson); Chicken Noodle Café (Wickenburg); Kiss the Cook (Glendale); Millstone Café (Buckeye); OverEasy (Phoenix - Arcadia); Scramble (North Phoenix); Sue Ann’s Apple Pan (Prescott); and TJ’s Homestyle Restaurant (Avondale). Pajama collection will begin in September at participating locations and will continue through the night of the event. Donations received after October 10 will be forwarded to AzCA.

“The event is in its sixth year with continued support from many of the locations that have participated since the beginning,” says Sharman Hickman of Hickman’s Family Farms. “PJs & Eggs offers a unique opportunity to share in an event that is fun and extremely useful. It’s hands-on help for our local communities’ kids in foster care. Participants know that whatever donations they make go directly to local children in need. Our goal this year is to reach 6,000 total pairs of pajamas donated since the start of this event.”

AzCA’s adoption and foster care programs, offered throughout the state, are vital resources for matching children in need with safe and loving families. There are more than 14,000 children in Arizona’s foster care system ranging from in age from newborn to 18 years old.

For additional information about PJs & Eggs, visit For more information about AzCA, including becoming a foster or adoptive parent, visit


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Arizona’s Children Association kinship service providers invited to present at the CWLA National Conference

As kinship care continues to be a primary and valuable option for children who cannot live with their parents, emphasis on kinship care policy, practice, and research is necessary to continue to enhance services and supports for kinship caregivers and families.  The Child Welfare League of America’s (CWLA) National Kinship Care Conference is being held this week in Louisiana to highlight the field’s collective knowledge of best practice, policy, program and service development for kinship caregivers, and identifies areas for further research.

Arizona’s Children Association kinship service providers were one of only seven kinship programs throughout the nation invited by CWLA to present at this national conference.  Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA) has developed a strong reputation nationwide as one of the key providers of valuable kinship services, in large part due to AzCA being one of few agencies chosen to receive a three-year federal grant in 2012. Arizona Kinship Support Services (AKSS) is a program of AzCA in partnership with the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS), Administration for Children Youth and Families (ACYF), and DES Family Assistance Administration (FAA). The overall goal of the federal grant is to improve services for children being raised by kinship care providers by assisting caregivers in meeting their family’s needs, promoting public/private partnerships to meet those needs and increase safety, permanency and well-being of the children in kinship care. AzCA kinship service providers will present on the progress and impact of services since the beginning of the grant period.

To learn more about AzCA’s kinship support services, visit us online at

Monday, August 18, 2014

Arizona’s Children Association Recognized for Wellness Efforts

Last month, Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA) was recognized as a Healthy Arizona Worksite by the City of Phoenix’s FitPHX program.
FitPHX is a program that encourages Phoenix area residents and businesses to lead healthier lifestyles. The goal of the program is to improve health and wellness in the community and build cFitPHXollaboration among Arizona employers around worksite wellness. The program recognizes participating Arizona employers for their leadership and commitment to the health of their employees and the state's business community.
Julie Peterson, Human Resource Generalist, and Richard Brubaker, Integrated Health and Wellness Director, received the award on Arizona’s Children’s behalf. The award was presented by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela.
“We are looking forward to increasing our wellness activities,” said Jeff Jameson, Vice President of Human Resources at AzCA. “We encourage everyone to continue in maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit!”
This year, Arizona’s Children Association is taking active steps to address what all businesses deal with—chronic stress, burnout, and healthy lifestyles for our employees.
“Arizona’s Children Association is committed not only to our children and families, but to our employees as well,” said Julie. “We know that in order to take care of our families we need to first take care of ourselves.”
Julie and Richard are part of the agency’s Wellness Committee and invite staff across the state to participate. This opportunity is to help both our fellow employees and their families by inviting our peers to come together and address their needs.
“Through meeting, we hope to give employees a voice in addressing stress and healthy lifestyle concerns by being an advocate for health and wellness across the state,” said Julie.
For further information on FitPHX, visit

Friday, August 15, 2014

Color Vibe is near, and you’re about to get tagged!

Get ready Phoenix and Tempe for the most colorful fun-filled day of your life! You’ll have more color on you than your happy levels can handle! So get your friends and family stretched out for this amazing color blast event where you'll get blasted with color while you run/walk the Color Vibe 5K.
Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA) is the beneficiary of the Color Vibe 5K Fun Run & Color Dance Party at Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe on February 22, 2015. If you’re not yet familiar with these types of events, you should be! It’s a fun, family-friendly event in which colored powder is ‘blasted’ at the crowd all through the run. You start out in your white shirt and by the end, who knows what your new look will be!
Don’t miss out! A portion of your registration fee benefits our programs and services for children and families, so invite your friends and family to this exciting color fun experience and support a great cause! This year, up to three children ages 12 and under can run for free with each paid adult. Register today and receive $5.00 off when you use the code: ACACOLOR.
We hope to see you there! Arizona Mills Mall is located at 5000 South Arizona Mills Circle, Tempe, AZ 85282. For more details, visit

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sex Trafficking: Raising Awareness to Protect Arizona’s Foster Youth

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, traffickers target children and youth with low self-esteem and minimal social support. The majority of individuals who are lured into sex trafficking have experienced emotional, physical and sexual abuse in childhood, and are victims of domestic violence, neglect or abandonment. These traits are highly prevalent among young people who have run away from home, endured a life of poverty, experienced homelessness and/or additional adverse experiences.

As we work with foster youth and young adults across the state, the Independent Living Program has come to recognize the vulnerability of this population to being targeted for human trafficking. The vast majority of youth involved in the Independent Living Program have had one or more of the above factors greatly impact their lives.

Arizona’s Children Association’s Independent Living Program (ILP) provides young adults, ages 16-21, who are in or have been involved in foster care with opportunities to develop mastery in major life areas. This is done by teaching youth essential life skills, assisting the youth in learning self-advocacy, identifying mentors and natural supports, and working with the youth on concrete measurable goals.

The Independent Living Program is designed to aid youth in their transition into independence and assists them in gaining tools for self-sufficiency. ILP specializes in the various needs and opportunities for youth in foster care. Services include educational support, employment skills, financial literacy, food preparation, health & wellness, housing support, transportation support, leadership skills, participation in a Youth Advisory Board, mentorship, clinical support, and much more.

Is human trafficking a problem in Arizona? Trafficking for labor and/or services occurs, but sex trafficking definitely has the largest impact on children and youth in Arizona. According to Arizona State University’s School of Social Work Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research, “Arizona has many factors that make it a profitable market for sex trafficking including 1) traffic corridors enabling easy, anonymous movement throughout the state and across state lines 2) a large resort community and mild climate that brings conferences and other tourist attractions year round.”

“One of the most important aspects of this issue is prevention through awareness,” said Brandy Verderosa, Independent Living Program Coordinator. “Many communities are still misinformed or under informed about human trafficking. I have heard many people say that this only happens in third-world countries and that it would never happen in the United States, let alone Arizona.”

In order to build awareness, the Independent Living Program will be holding a mandatory training for ILP staff on human trafficking. The training will assist staff in recognizing the signs of trafficking, provide guidance on how to properly intervene, as well as, introduce resources across the state that will provide prevention and aftercare services through connections made across the state with law enforcement. In seeking trainings and education, Arizona’s Children Association and the Independent Living Program will be able to provide resources that can be used to assist youth that are being targeted or trafficked and inform others.

“This training is a collaboration to bring people together to better understand how to combat this issue,” said Candy Espino, Vice President of Child Welfare. “Following the training, our staff will truly be able to better serve our clients, especially youth in transition.”