Thursday, December 31, 2009

Six Million Pennies Means a Lot of Help for Families

From country concerts to bowl-a-thons, penny pitch donors were more creative than ever this year.

The results are impressive. The 14th annual KIIM-FM Tucson Penny Pitch benefiting Arizona’s Children Association amassed 2,879,605 pennies ($28,796.05), more than doubling its goal of one million pennies. KIIM-FM set up in the Foothills Mall Food Court December 16th -18th, broadcasting each day from 6AM to 7PM, and invited the public to stop by and donate spare pennies. Other coins and paper money were also accepted.

The goal of the 12th annual KTTI Penny Pitch in Yuma was to raise 3.5 million pennies. Jay Walker, KTTI personality and driving force for the Yuma Penny Pitch, summed up the results, “As we all know, you can't say the word "Money", or "Charity" these days without hearing the phrase ‘Well, in today's economy…..’ Well, in today's economy Yuma Arizona gave more than they have in the past 12 years. The grand total in the three day's was $35,675.00.”

The ‘pennies’ raised in these drives will help families in emergency situations. We are overwhelmed and grateful. Donations can still be made at

Friday, December 11, 2009

From the Grand Canyon to the White House

Grandparents in the Tucson KARE Family Center Arts group, "Las Fridas" and their grandchildren recently decorated ten Arizona themed ornaments that will hang on the White House Executive Residence Christmas tree. At the suggestion of Generations United in Washington DC, the White House sent the group 10" orbs to decorate with Arizona Points of Interest, and the group went to work, cutting out photos, painting and decoupaging. To see their work, and the decorated ornaments, visit

Las Fridas started as a grief and loss group for women burdened by their kinship care giving, and has evolved into a joyful art instruction activity for the women and their families. Las Fridas has exhibited at several Tucson area events. The group is provided with support of The Drawing Studio and volunteer instructor Pat Frederick, a retired veterinarian and metal sculptor.

Make sure to watch Oprah's Primetime Special this Sunday on ABC: The KARE ornaments in the White House are set to be a part of Oprah's special, "Christmas at the White House" airing Dec. 13.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Give the Gift of Hope

Give the gift of hope this holiday season to children and families who need your help. Our ‘needs’ list is long and includes the wishes of children from birth to 18 years, and requests from their parents for groceries and grocery gift certificates. The families we work with do not receive any other help during the holiday season.

There are three ways to give:
~ Support an entire family. Purchase groceries or grocery store gift certificates and grant the gift wishes of the children in the family.
~ Put up a giving tree in your office or organization. We’ll bring ornaments with the wishes of children on them and your employees/
members may choose an individual from the tree.
~ Conduct a toy drive. Collect toys and items for children and we’ll pick them up and distribute them to the children and families
we serve. Toys are needed for children of all ages.
To give a “Gift of Hope” this holiday season, check out this link to find more info for your area:

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Hardest Job You Will Ever Love

Amy and Sarah were two and three when they were found wandering in their diapers in a K-Mart parking lot. Phillip was three and his sister Katie was nine when their mother abandoned them at a bus stop. At ten months old, Olivia never cried because no one had ever come to pick her up.

These, and thousands of neglected, abandoned and abused children come in to Arizona's foster care system each year. For most, there's a happy ending. Their biological parents put their lives together and their children come home. Loving grandparents or relatives step up to raise them. Caring adults become their adoptive parents.

For others, growing up in a loving family remains an empty dream. There are more than 200 children in Arizona's foster care system waiting for their forever family. Those who never find permanency often lead troubled lives. They are less likely to graduate from high school, and face greater risks for homelessness, imprisonment and reliance on welfare.

While I would love to urge every reader to go out and adopt a child from the foster care system, it is neither realistic nor practical for many. What is very doable, however, is to connect with a child in the state's foster care system and be their friend and mentor. Help them do their math homework and take them out to a movie. Throw a barbecue for the residents in their group care facility. Introduce them to your family and friends and let them know they need adoptive families. Find a way to help.

For those special few who are moved to adoption, get started. While adopting a child from foster care can be very challenging, in the words of many adoptive parents I know, "It's the hardest job you will ever love."

Visit to see featured pictures and short biographies of more than 12,000 children in need of a forever family. There is usually little or no cost to adopt children from the foster care system, and training is available to help new parents through the adoption process.

Foster and adoptive parents have a special calling. You know who you are. You're not any smarter or more dedicated than anyone else. You just know in your heart that vulnerable children need your help and you respond. Celebrate national adoption month this November by visiting the Arizona's Children Association website at and getting started. The children need you.

Fred Chaffee
President and CEO
Arizona's Children Association

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 13 is Grandparents Day!

September 13 is Grandparents Day! A great day to celebrate all of the grandparents here in our state who are caring for their grandchildren.

At the KARE Family Center in Tucson, a small group of grandparents wanting to “give back and go the extra mile” on behalf of KARE are training in advocacy skills and making appearances in the community to ask for more attention and support for this “hidden caregiver population”. Although all the members are considered “senior citizens” in age, their list of accomplishments is impressive. George Arevalo, Jose Velasco, Rosa Borbon and Jessie Hetherington have visited with legislators, staged a well-attended caregiver rally in Tucson, and are planning a spectacular fundraiser for the KARE Center for March 27, 2010 featuring Grammy nominated artist R. Carlos Nakai. Laurie Melrood, KARE –Tucson director, says: “These are caregivers who embrace the KARE mission of keeping children safe and stable with relative families, and want to make sure that kin families have a voice in the community.”

Check out to learn more about KARE on our website or visit our YouTube site for our video on KARE.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

PJs and Eggs A Great Success

Hickman's Eggs recently celebrated its 65 year anniversary by asking breakfast restaurants in the Valley to open for "Breakfast for Dinner" on one special night to benefit Arizona's Children Association foster care program. Customers having "breakfast for dinner" were asked to bring a pair of pajamas to the restaurant to be donated to the AzCA foster care program. In return, they received a free dozen Hickman's eggs and a ticket for a drawing for a "PJ's and Eggs" breakfast party for 65 friends. More than 1,100 pairs of pajamas were donated and more than $2,700 dollars were raised in the event. Thanks to Hickman Family Farms and the PJ's and Eggs participating restaurants: Over Easy, First Watch, Bacon, Scramble, Stax/Breakfast Club, Matt's Big Breakfast, Kiss the Cook, TC Eggington's, and US Egg.
To see more photos from the PJ's and Eggs event, click here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Good Things Come in Hundreds of Small Packages

The first day of school was a little more exciting for hundreds of children who received new backpacks full of school supplies from the Goodyear White Tanks Rotary. On Thursday of this week, volunteers from the Rotary Club delivered 400 back to school backpacks loaded with school supplies to the Arizona's Children Association Surprise office, filling the biggest room in the office. Last year the office received a total of two backpack donations. Upon hearing the plight of this office which serves approximately 800 children who would otherwise go without school supplies for the first day of school, the Goodyear White Tanks Rotary Club came to the rescue with member donations of 300 backpacks and help from WalMart with another 100 backpacks. This is a mighty effort from a 60 member Rotary Club, that demonstrates that EVERYONE can make a difference in our community, especially in times of great financial need.

To work with Arizona's Children Association to conduct a drive for your organization or workplace, contact Leah Stegman at or call 800.944.7611, ext. 111.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

There's a Better Way to Spend Your Time

A movie called "Orphan" is slated to open this Friday. The plot involves a couple who adopt a troubled, older child who terrorizes their family. At the risk of seeming too easily offended by negative stereotypes of children who are adopted at an older age, I'm supporting the national adoption advocates who are calling for a boycott of this irresponsible film.

Arizona's Children Association was founded nearly 100 years ago by the Women's Missionary Society to "found a home in Arizona where orphaned and neglected children could be cared for and adopted." We've spent nearly 100 years finding loving, permanent homes for children of all ages whose parents are unable to care for them. The work of our agency will not be undone, or even affected by this insensitive movie. What I am concerned about is the continued negative impression left on children and teens in the foster care system who have already been victimized by those they should have been able to trust.

This weekend, don't go see "Orphan." There's a better way to spend your time. Do something constructive for children in the state's foster care system who've been marginalized by recent cuts to the Department of Economic Security. Find out how to volunteer to be a CASA or a member of a Foster Care Review Board. Volunteer at Arizona's Children Association to put together "Just for Me" bags or create Lifebook pages to celebrate the lives of children in foster care. This movie will be in and out of theaters soon. Your impact on a child is forever.

Fred Chaffee
President and CEO
Arizona's Children Association

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Letter from a foster parent

“Though no one can make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new end.” Anonymous

We have been a foster family for nearly eight years. During that time we’ve welcomed and said goodbye to many wonderful children who’ve changed our lives. At a party last weekend, a well-meaning new acquaintance commented on being a foster parent. “I could NEVER do that. I could NEVER give them up.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that comment and how, still now, it cuts to my core. What is the appropriate response? “Yes, I can do it because I don’t care when they leave.” “Yes, it’s easy to let go. We just move on to the next placement.” I never quite know how to respond so I smile quietly (not my style) and move on to a new conversation.

Here’s what I would like to say. As a foster family, we are dedicated to helping the children in our care ‘make a brand new end.’ Whether it’s with a relative who steps up, or a new adoptive family, or back in to their renewed, re-motivated and re-educated biological family. So when it comes time to say goodbye, and help our children transition to their ‘brand new end,’ we suck it up, we create a lifebook for their time here, we take a traditional trip to Chuck E. Cheese, we give them a copy of Dr. Seuss “Oh The Places You’ll Go” for their life going forward and we say ‘see you later’ (never goodbye). Then we close the door of the car and tearfully drive away. I have likened the experience to having a tooth pulled without novocaine. It never gets any easier.

May is foster care awareness month. I hope those who read this will take a few minutes to think about the more than 10,000 children in foster care in Arizona. Many are living with relatives, many are living in family foster care and too many are living in group care facilities and shelters. You don’t have to become a foster family to help. You can fill “Just for Me” bags for children for their first night in care. You can become a member of a Foster Care Review Board or a Court Appointed Special Advocate. You can become a mentor for a child in a group home. You can help a child create a ‘brand new end.’

(Kris is a foster family with Arizona’s Children Association)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Budget Cuts Impact Children and Families

The recent deep cuts to the Department of Economic Security are having a significant impact on vulnerable children and families across our state. The damage will not be easily undone. Without a thoughtful and far-reaching analysis of what these immediate budget cuts will do, we are in danger of eliminating effective systems that have been put into place over the last 30-40 years.

In one instance, the reduction and elimination of "in home services" has resulted in 7,000 children who have been receiving services in their own homes and in their own communities, no longer having that support. Many will be in danger of moving out of their homes and into the foster care system, which is already overwhelmed with more than 10,000 children.

The state recently implemented budget cuts reducing payments to foster parents by 20% and cutting the foster care allowances by 50% for such items as clothing.

These kinds of cuts are not sustainable. Arizona's Children Association has survived and moved through very difficult times. This is one of the most difficult times of them all. We are seeing the dismantling of the child welfare system as we have known it and supported it over these many years in Arizona. We will eventually pay for all of these funding cuts in ways that will ultimately be far more expensive than the resources now required.

As a member of the board of directors of the Child Welfare League of America, I also have an opportunity to look across the country and see how different states are coping with this severe economic downturn. Not every state is slashing away at vulnerable children and families. More prudent efforts are ones that will allow us to continue to move forward in protecting our most vulnerable populations in ways that will prevent the kind of catastrophe that appears to be ahead of us.

Fred J. Chaffee, M.A., M.S.W.
President & Chief Executive Officer, Arizona's Children Association