Friday, April 18, 2014

Golden Gate Community Center transitions from Arizona’s Children Association to Wesley Community Center

On May 1st, 2014, Golden Gate Community Center in west Phoenix will officially transition from Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA) to the care of Wesley Community Center. Golden Gate Community Center has been a member of Arizona’s Children Association family of agencies since 2004.

Golden Gate Community Center has been a trusted health, wellness, and social support resource for children, adults, and seniors for more than 75 years. Without Golden Gate, thousands of individuals and families would not have affordable access to recreation and personal development activities, educational classes, or preventive health services. AzCA acquired Golden Gate Community Center in 2004 because their Board and leadership strongly believe in the value and impact of the services provided by Golden Gate and understood that these programs were vital to the community. Since that time, Arizona’s Children Association has assisted them in growing their core services while also providing the critical fundraising support they needed to maintain services.
The key factor in the AzCA Board decision to transition Golden Gate Community Center was rooted in Wesley’s ability to enhance and expand programs for the local community. Wesley has extensive experience specific to the business of leading a community center and has community service work at its core which will allow for improved support of Golden Gate staff and programs. The Board and leadership of AzCA and Wesley believe this move will result in growth and sustainability for Golden Gate so that the Center may continue its leadership role in the community. Wesley has successfully run a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) since 2009 and anticipates that they will be able to expand and bring healthcare to the Golden Gate community.
“We now have a great new opportunity through Wesley that will provide further growth and expansion of Golden Gate programs – beyond AzCA’s current abilities,” said Denise Ensdorff, president and CEO of Arizona’s Children Association.
As a part of the Arizona’s Children Association’s original commitment to Golden Gate in 2004, the AzCA Board of Directors have decided to pay off the remaining mortgage of the Center – allowing for the best possible start for the success of the Center. In addition, current Golden Gate staff and programming will remain in place.
“We’re so thankful to all of you who have supported the mission of Golden Gate over the years and we believe you will not only be pleased with this partnership, but also impressed with the expanding success of the Center in future years,” Ensdorff added. “We are also thankful to all of the Golden Gate staff for their patience and trust during this process.”
Community members are invited to join representatives of Golden Gate, Arizona’s Children Association and Wesley Community Center for an open community “celebration” on April 21st from 6:00pm-8:00pm at Golden Gate Community Center. Golden Gate Community Center is located at 1625 N. 39th Ave, Phoenix, Arizona 85009.
About Wesley Community Center
The Wesley Community Center, a nonprofit organization located in South Central Phoenix, Arizona, since 1950, provides programs and services with children, youth, adults, families, senior adults. Comprehensive healthcare is a major component of these services through the family practice emphases of the Wesley Health Center. Learn more at

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Building a Better Future for Arizona’s Children

Parents as Teachers (PAT) is an international early childhood parent education and family support program within Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA). The core value of the program is founded on the principle that parents are their children’s first and most influential teachers. PAT is a free home visitation program that partners with families by providing information, support, community resources and fun educational activities to help their children develop optimally during the crucial early years of life. PAT increases parent knowledge of early childhood development, provides early detection of developmental delays and health concerns, and prevents child abuse and neglect. Funded through First Things First, its effective curricula is known as an outstanding evidence-based best practice model for any pregnant family or family with children from birth to age six.
Certified home visitors, called Parent Educators, visit families in the safety of their homes bi-monthly and establish ongoing relationships that are professional, yet trusting. As part of the home visitation curriculum, parents learn to observe their children and learn to focus on developmental skill areas, participate in parent and child interactive activities, and receive follow up activities to work on between visits that utilize typical household items and reading.

“I believe in the mission of educating children as early as possible so that they can achieve and reach their full potential,” said Pam Carder, a Parent Educator in the PAT program in Pinal County. “I have seen the success this program has to offer with many of my families. Children love to learn. Children also love to play. This program allows them to learn while playing and I find it to be a true success story for the families we serve.”

Parents have the opportunity to share concerns and ask questions about their child’s developmental growth. Parents take the lead in setting goals for the child and family, and identify family strengths as they work with their Parent Educator.

An integral part of the program is the group meetings, or Group Connections. These are held monthly and offer parents the opportunity to share information about parenting issues and child development, learn from and support each other, observe their child’s interaction with other children, and practice parenting skills. Group Connections also offer a social network for parents to develop relationships with other parents.

As a requirement of the National Center for Parents as Teachers, and as part of the First Things First requirements, children also receive developmental screenings at regular intervals, as well as, hearing and vision screening.

Cheyloh Hamilton, a single mother of two energetic young boys, was working two jobs, cooking over a wood stove, and had a house in dire need of repairs when she came across the PAT program in Yavapai County. The program has helped Cheyloh to unlock the doors to her own successes, as well as, the success of her two young boys.

“Many people don’t know about Parents as Teachers, but I believe more people need this,” said Hamilton.

With the help of the program, Cheyloh and the boys have set aside family time each day dedicated to reading and learning. Parents as Teachers have also helped Cheyloh develop skills to parent her two very different boys. Ciel is sharp-minded and calm, whereas, Tre is more adventurous and sensitive. Cheyloh wants to make sure that she nurtures their individual personalities and strengths.
“Parents as Teachers is based on your child, wherever they’re at and whatever they need,” Hamilton said. “Parents as Teachers have had a big impact. It brought our family together, connected us to resources, lessened my anxiety and strengthened my parenting.”

Cheyloh is grateful for her partnership with Parents as Teachers as her boys continue to grow, and recommends Parents as Teachers to all families with young children that she knows.

“Not everyone has the opportunity to do what they love and also make a difference every single day!” explained Director of Prevention and Parents as Teachers Shelley Tellez. "This program is primary prevention first and foremost. Social service staff are invited into family homes in four different counties in Arizona to provide individualized parenting instruction. I cannot imagine anything better than that."

Photo: Cheyloh Hamilton, Ciel Hamilton, Tre Hamilton and Parent Educator, Jodie Campitelli.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Unforgettable Fun & Neon Memories

More Colorful Opportunities Headed Your Way!

On Saturday, February 8th, runners, walkers, volunteers and spectators came out to enjoy the most colorful fun-filled day of their lives at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler for the Color Vibe 5K. They came prepared to be blasted with more color than their happy levels could handle — all in support of Arizona’s Children Association’s (AzCA) children and families in the community. We would like to thank everyone who came out for this exciting event and for your support of Arizona’s Children! An additional thank you to AzCA employees, volunteers and board members who joined in the fun!
Couldn't make it? See what’s in store for Yuma and Tucson!
Check out these great photos from the Color Vibe 5K in Chandler! You can also check us out on Facebook for more photos and videos from the event! Click here to see a short clip from the event!

Join us for a morning not to be forgotten! 

Saturday, March 22 @ Gateway Park in Yuma

 Why not color outside the lines while being active, social, and a little wacky! The Color in Motion 5k gives you all these benefits plus unforgettable fun and heaps of memories! By the end of the CIM5k your blank canvas will be brighter than ever — your clothes, health, and outlook on life will be changed for the better! For a limited time, use the code “AZCA” for $5 off! For more information, or to register, visit


Get Ready to 'Get Bubbly!'
Saturday, March 29 @ Southwestern International Raceway in Tucson
The Neon Bubble Dash is a unique nighttime run and foam party that illuminates the sky all along its 5k route. Participants will run, walk, skip or dance their way into the foam-infested Neon Zones and Glow Caves throughout the course.

The fun doesn’t stop at the finish; all participants receive free entry in the ‘Get Bubbly’ foam party! You’ll also have the opportunity to challenge your friends and fellow Neon Bubble Dashers to illuminating field games! For a limited time, use the keyword “AZCA” & save $10 off of registration! Register today at


Friday, February 14, 2014

AzCA announces new Chief Development Officer Shawn Elmore

Arizona's Children Association is pleased to announce the selection of Shawn Elmore as the agency’s new Chief Development Officer. As the Chief Development Officer, Shawn will be responsible for the fundraising and marketing activities of the agency.

Shawn has more than 15 years experience developing successful fundraising and marketing campaigns for numerous non-profit organizations, Fortune 50 companies, as well as numerous political organizations and candidates. Most recently, Shawn served as Development Director for Susan G. Komen Central and Northern Arizona. Prior to that position, Shawn served in fundraising roles for the Arizona Democratic Party and Georgetown University. Shawn holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Willamette University and is a graduate of the ASU Generation Next Nonprofit Leadership Academy.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

THRIVE Mentor Program

Mentors for Young Adults Aging Out of Foster Care

According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, in Fiscal Year 2012, 723 young adults aged 18 and older left foster care. Without family or the support from a caring adult, statistics indicate that many of these young adults will experience homelessness, incarceration and/or poverty. In an attempt to improve the success of teens ‘aging out’ of foster care, Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA) has created THRIVE, a mentor program designed to enhance support for young adults involved in Independent Living Services.
In May of 2013, AzCA was awarded a statewide DES contract for the Independent Living Program which teaches essential life skills to youth aging out of the foster care system. In order to improve the lives of transitioning youth, AzCA decided to bring mentors on board to develop supportive, positive relationships that assist the young adults reach their full potential.

THRIVE is actively recruiting community members and foster care alumni to be mentors for young adults (ages 17-19). Mentors are asked to commit to working with their mentee for two years in order to assist them in their transition into adulthood. THRIVE mentors must be at least 21 years old, demonstrate life skills and achievement, be relatable to youth, and have at least one year’s experience working with adolescents. All mentors receive the training, support and resources necessary to understand the transition planning process and to cultivate a successful mentor relationship.

THRIVE is statewide and dedicated to one-on-one mentoring that helps foster care youth thrive and achieve the same success as their peers who are not involved in foster care including: reduced rates of homelessness and teen pregnancy, increased rates of graduation, job stability, social skills, and healthy adult connections.
Stephanie is an eighteen year old who is part of AzCA’s Independent Living Program. She has been matched with a mentor for several months and is grateful for the time they spend together.
“She is a dedicated parent. She is a good example for me and I hope to gain some of the knowledge she has,” said Stephanie. “[She’s] trustworthy, successful and a great leader. I really like her. I hope for the qualities that she has and I will learn a lot for the future.”

Questions? Email or call 1-844-747-1533.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Program Promotes Quality Family Time

‘Parents as Teachers’ Visits Families to Promote Child Learning and Development

PRESCOTT VALLEY (December 3, 2013) - Traci and Pino Lira, parents of 4-year old Penelope and 10-month old Rendon, both work full-time. Despite their hectic schedules, they are committed to fitting in as much quality family time as they can.  

That’s why they enrolled in Parents as Teachers (PAT), a free home visiting program for families with kids ages five and under. In Yavapai County, the program is put on by Arizona’s Children Association with grant funding from First Things First.

Through PAT, the Lira family gets a visit every two weeks from Jodie, their parent educator, who brings simple, fun and inexpensive learning activities that they can do together as a family, assesses the development of the children, provides informational sheets about the children’s’ stages of development, and connects them to any other community resources they may need. The goal of the program is to partner with parents to make sure their young children are healthy, happy, and learning. “It’s great,” said Traci Lira. “Who would turn down a free, educational program for their kids?”

Pino Lira, who works as a Deputy Clerk for the County, knows that strong families are the foundation of a strong society, and has seen first-hand what happens when families do not have the information and resources that they need. “Nowadays, many families have both parents working and struggle to find time together,” said Lira. “For us, visits from Jodie are dedicated family bonding time. Plus, it’s educational for both parents and kids,” he said.

The Lira family enjoys a music activity brought over by
Jodie, their Parents as Teachers Parent Educator.
Pino Lira also said that nowadays, it’s difficult to comb through all the parenting information out there. “If you don’t have a degree in early childhood education, you don’t know everything about children’s development. With so many sources, it’s hard to know what’s best,” he said. Lira recommends Parents as Teachers to any family with a young child because it provides an expert source of parenting tools and knowledge. “If I need legal advice, I get a lawyer. If I need parenting advice, why not seek a parenting expert?” 

Lira said. The family also appreciates the convenience of the program. “Parents as Teachers comes to you and works with your schedule,” he said.

The Liras want the transition from home to kindergarten to be as smooth and easy as possible for Penelope and Rendon. With the tools and information they receive from PAT, Traci and Pino are confident that they are providing their kids with the knowledge and experiences they need to grow, learn, and succeed in school later on.  

Parents as Teachers is a free home visiting program for families with children ages prenatal to five years, available in both Spanish and English. For more information about the program or to enroll, please call Arizona’s Children Association at (928) 443– 1991 X 2021.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A child can't wait.

Kevin’s Story:

"I remember that day when we were first taken out of our house. The case worker told my brothers and me that we wouldn’t be going back home that day. I didn’t know where we were going. I was 10 at the time and had heard horror stories about living in a foster home. I was terrified. As the oldest, I knew that I had to protect my siblings. I held back my tears and tried not to let my brothers see that I was upset. "As long as we have each other everything will be okay," I reminded myself.

Everything wasn’t okay. We didn’t get to stay together. There wasn’t anything that I could do or say that would have made any difference.

I was the last stop. I got out of the car feeling regret—maybe there was something more I could have done to help my parents. I wandered my way up to the door of the house.

I was greeted by two smiling faces that threw their arms around me and graciously invited me in. My foster mom tried to keep things calm and as "normal" as possible. I cried myself to sleep each night only to feel numb and hopeless the next day.

As time progressed, I began to accept my temporary home. After all, they made me feel like I was part of the family. They made sure to remind me every day that none of this was my fault. They promised me that they were going to make sure that I was okay through whatever obstacles we faced.

Well, for the first time in my life, someone kept their promise to me. They took in my brothers so that we could be together again. Things progressed and I knew that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. We were safe and happy. We found our "forever family" with them. My brothers and I were adopted. I may not have had control over how my story began, but I can certainly write the ending."

A child can’t wait.

Kevin couldn’t wait for the love and attention that he needed, and most importantly, deserved. Kevin’s story demands our attention. Unfortunately there are thousands of children in Arizona just like Kevin. Kevin was one of the lucky ones – finding a forever family that provided the love and safety that he and his brothers deserved.

A child can’t wait for safety. For help. For protection. For unconditional love. Family struggles are all too common in Arizona. Every day a child like Kevin is up against a challenge that is beyond his comprehension and not of his own making.

Arizona’s Children Association steps in when a family needs help. Our goal is to strengthen families and keep children safe. With the resources and support we provided, Kevin’s foster family was able to provide the safe, structured environment he needed to reach his potential and allow the family to strengthen their bond. Our services also educate and support families in an effort to prevent these struggles before they happen. We respond to the needs of children and families in communities, large and small, throughout Arizona.

You believe and so do we - that every child deserves a family that loves and cares for them and encourages their ability to reach their full potential. You can be a hero for a child like Kevin.

There is never a time more critical than now to support Kevin and those like him. Please join our End-of-Year fundraising campaign to keep the programs in place that provide for the many children in need. Our request is simple. Donate today and your gift will be immediately put to work to keep families on track and make our communities the place that we know every child deserves.

Together, we made a difference for Kevin. Let’s keep up the good work. Please mail your donation to 2700 S. 8th Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85713 or donate online at