Thursday, December 15, 2011

AzCA announces the formation of The Fred Chaffee Center for Excellence in Prevention Services

After 20 years of service to the children and families of Arizona, Fred J. Chaffee will step down from his position as President and CEO of Arizona’s Children Association in January of 2012. Members of the Board of Directors of Arizona's Children Association (AzCA) announced this week that they are establishing permanent recognition of Chaffee’s dedication and leadership to the agency by incorporating his name into some of the many programs that he helped build and sustain.

The Fred J. Chaffee Center for Excellence in Prevention Services promotes the development of healthy children, strong families, and safe communities. A component of the Arizona’s Children Association, the Center unites programs and initiatives within AzCA and its family of agencies that enhance the well being of Arizona’s diverse population. The Center builds on the legacy of former Executive Director Fred Chaffee and honors his leadership in transforming AzCA to an agency that works to prevent problems as well as to treat them.

“I am proud of the significant increase in prevention services provided by this agency during my time here,” said Fred Chaffee. “Prevention services enable our staff to work with families to address problems at their base, before they become long-term and more expensive to address. We realized early on that we needed to go upstream to prevent problems, rather than waiting downstream for the problems to come to us and our families.”

In 1992, Fred Chaffee joined Arizona’s Children Association (named Arizona Children’s Home Association at the time) as Executive Director, bringing with him many years of experience in the field of child welfare and behavioral health management. The last 20 years have brought much growth and prosperity to this agency. It was during his tenure that Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA) grew from a $5 million agency serving 5,000 children and families annually into a $40 million agency serving 46,000 children and families each year. Chaffee’s role was critical in expanding services statewide and in the mergers of AzCA with each one of its now seven members of its family of agencies.

The prevention services programs of Arizona’s Children Association are diverse and span statewide. Particular AzCA facilities including The Parent Connection, Golden Gate Community Center and New Directions Institute for Infant Brain Development and limited additional AzCA locations will receive signage designating their role as providers of prevention services.

“The success of this organization and the fact that we have reached our centennial this year is due in large part to Fred Chaffee’s leadership and innovation through both good times and bad,” said Tom Knox, past chair of the board of directors. “We have truly been blessed by having such a committed and consistent leader throughout these last two decades.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Shirts with a Message

One of the highlights of summer at Golden Gate Community Center, is the annual t-shirt design competition. For four years now, the challenge is on as kids of all ages put in their best effort to create a design to be chosen to represent the Center. The kids draw out their ideas on a t-shirt template and staff serves as competition judges. The various designs each year show just how connected these youth are to the Center.

The kids will tell you that the shirts they wear are a point of pride for them because it identifies them with the Center and they are proud to claim that the artist is their friend.

This year’s winner is 8th grader Angelica Herrera, shown here with her winning design which reads "Golden Gate Community Center, Another Word 4 Family." She has been coming to the Center for two years now with her sister and she participated in the summer activities daily.

The best part is that the staff is able to cover the shirt costs even with their limited summer budget. Grants for their summer budget have continued to decrease each year, but staff ensure that a portion is reserved for the production of the shirts so that everyone is included in the feeling of unity that these shirts provide.

To learn more about the programs and services offered by Golden Gate Community Center, visit or call 620.233.0017.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A History of Thanksgiving

In November 1921, the founding members of Arizona's Children Association, then called Arizona Children’s Home Association, realized their dream of building a receiving Home for the children of Arizona. One week before Thanksgiving, the agency moved from a modest 14-room rental house into a permanent two-story Home located on the south side of Tucson. This original building remains central to our agency operations and is now called “Angel House”.
The story that follows is an excerpt from the memoir of our most recognizable founding member, Mrs. Minnie Davenport. As she recounts the events of “Moving Day” and “Our First Thanksgiving” it is an opportunity to reflect, in thanksgiving, for all those who have made this agency possible.

"The [new] receiving Home faced east on south 8th avenue. The main floor consisted of a large living room, a hall-way leading to a large nursery room, two north rooms for children and a separate room for the nurse and matron. On the south end of the build was the dining room, kitchen, and pantry. In the basement was a laundry, playroom and furnace room. The second floor consisted of a girls dormitory, boys dormitory – room for ten single beds [each] – a room for the cook and housekeeper, two bath and toilet rooms, a clothes room with shelves and a small closet for linen and clothing. There were plenty of windows and radiators, so the place was properly ventilated and heated. The walls were tinted in light tan with white ceilings. The wood work was silver grey through-out the building. Two large homemade tables for the dining room were also painted the color of the wood work. The baths were in all white porcelain – tubs and showers.

All was in readiness for the move, as the city water had been piped on the premises. We paid to put in separate electric light and telephone extension, so besides the cost of a [thirty-five] thousand dollar building, funds were raised for all other necessities through friends. A new range was placed in the kitchen and through some grocery store closing out, we had an opportunity to secure a large ice box and Arizona Ice Company said they would supply us, gratis, all the ice we need. On November 14 [1921] we planned to move.

The ladies were placed on committees of three, to assist at ten o’clock. Mrs. N.C. Plumer, Mrs. S.M. Franklyn, Mrs. H.E. Heighton, Mrs. E.G. Spoerleder and Mrs. Geo. Reid, arrived [at the rental home] at 430 West 5th Street, filled their cars with bedding, groceries and linens. Then they placed the babies and children, too young to attend school, in the cars with the nurse and cook and went to the new Home. Mrs. Franklyn, Mrs. Plumer and Mrs. Heighton, were to oversee the placing and arranging of the furniture and all beds were to be put up in the nursery and two dormitories.

Mrs. Albert Steinfeld sent two 9 by 12 rugs, a couch, two rockers, and a wicker living room set, which made the place look homey....Each furniture store sent complete beds and cribs, small chairs, and dining room chairs. This, with the furniture we had from the old receiving home, made it possible to care for 50 children, but there were only three women on the staff: a nurse, housekeeper and cook. We had advertised for a trained matron whom we hoped to have there to take over, but illness in her family delayed her taking the position for ten days. Mrs. Geo. Reid and Mrs. Spoerleder made many trips to and from the two Homes. The Citizen and Tucson Transfer Companies gave us free service.

That day at noon, the children came from school and a picnic lunch consisting of sandwiches, cookies, milk and fruit was given them [at the rental home on 5th Street]. The lunch was furnished by Mrs. Blair, Mrs. Buchanan, Mrs. Spoerleder and Mrs. Davenport. After lunch the children returned to school and the women had about cleared the house of all boxes and furniture, leaving the laundry equipment, wood, coal and playground equipment, to be taken for the last load. After school, Mrs. Reid took the children to the [new] Home….Things at the Home began to hum, as the first Thanksgiving in the new Home was only a week off… We were in correspondence with Mrs. Williams of El Paso. She had retired as a field matron for the government Indian Service. She wired she would arrive on an early train Thanksgiving morning. She was to come direct to my home. Later she and I went to the Home and found a committee of women busily assisting in the preparation of the dinner, arranging the tables, and dressing the children who were all so good and bubbling over with excitement.

Two big turkeys and all the “trimmings” were brought out for the dinner, supplied by the Ladies of the Tucson Temperance Union. The children said “Yummm, yummm, yummm, it smells good, Mrs. Davenport, and won’t we eat!”…What a feast those children enjoyed. The cook baked a number of pies from the pumpkins the ladies furnished. Many lovely gifts came into the Home during the following weeks, but in spite of all, there were many articles needed."

To learn more about our agency's 100 year history, visit and click on "AzCA Centennial."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On November 4, Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the …Night!

Hickman’s Family Farms to Host Best Pajama Party of the Year with 15 Breakfast Restaurants in the State to Benefit Arizona’s Children Association

Hickman’s Family Farms has partnered with 15 of the most favorite breakfast restaurants in the Valley and around the state to celebrate the third annual “PJs & Eggs – a Breakfast for Dinner Event” on Friday, November 4, 2011, beginning at 5 p.m. to benefit Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA) foster care programs statewide. For a list of participating restaurants and more information on the event partners, visit

Customers who have “breakfast for dinner” at each participating restaurant on November 4, are asked to wear their pajamas and bring a new pair (any size for kids ages 0 - 18), which will be donated to children in the AzCA’s foster care programs. In return, customers will receive a certificate for a free dozen of Hickman’s Eggs. Participating restaurants will donate a portion of the proceeds from the evening to AzCA as well.

On the list of participating restaurants is: Over Easy (Scottsdale and Arcadia), First Watch (Scottsdale location) U.S. Egg (Chandler location), Matt’s Big Breakfast (Phoenix), Scramble (Phoenix), Kiss the Cook (Glendale), AZ Bread Co. (Tempe), Red Allen’s at the Wigwam (Litchfield Park), Chicken Noodle Café (Wickenburg), SueAnn’s Apple Pan (Prescott), Good Egg (Tucson on Oracle), Robert’s Restaurant (Tucson), Gus Balon’s (Tucson) and The Hungry Fox (Tucson).

Pajama collection will begin in October at participating restaurants and will continue through the night of the event. Again, Carter’s kids clothing has partnered with “PJs & Eggs” to collect pajamas at seven different locations as well as give great discounts on purchasing pajamas. A complete list of participating Carter’s locations is also available on

“The event is in its third year with continued support from many of our restaurants that participated in our first year,” said Clint Hickman, vice president of sales for Hickman’s Family Farms. “It’s great to watch the event grow to other parts of the state and continue to support Arizona’s children in foster care around Arizona.” Hickman added, “Not only is ‘breakfast for dinner’ a fun way to spend time with the family; the meal is quick, nutritious, economical and a great tradition to start in any home.”

AzCA’s adoption and foster care programs, offered in most areas of the state, are vital resources for matching children in need with safe and loving families. There are more than 10,000 children in Arizona’s foster care system ranging from newborn to 18 years old. “Most children come into foster care because of neglect and abuse with little more than the clothes on their back,” said Marc Kellenberger, senior vice president and chief development officer of AzCA. “With budget cuts affecting fulfilling the needs of these children and families, we are thrilled with the assistance by Hickman’s Family Farms and the participating restaurants in the third annual ‘PJs & Eggs’ event.”

Friday, September 30, 2011

Learning Responsibility through Gardening

The S.T.A.R. Program in Flagstaff doesn’t shy away from unique and creative ways to teach life skills to the youth in their program. The S.T.A.R. Program, which is an acronym for Skills, Training and Respite, is designed to help youth who have behavioral health issues. The program offers a variety of services to reduce caregiver stress and increase the skill base of youth enrolled in the program.

Russ Chesson, the program supervisor, learned gardening skills in his youth and saw potential in using a gardening program to teach life skills to the youth. Russ felt that a gardening curriculum would be an excellent platform to teach the importance of a healthy diet, teach responsibility through daily care and watering, and teach environmental responsibility through recycling and composting.

Russ presented the idea to his team and the staff jumped on board. The staff made sure all the kids had a role to play in the project. The older kids in the program were responsible for the building of the gardening boxes and younger kids were tasked with the watering and maintenance of the plants. Outside groups, including the Sustainability Cooperative, have come in to teach various topics, such as composting. The youth built a compost bin and have been able to watch the transition of the compost materials.

“Many of the youth don’t really get outside their neighborhood or ever learn where food comes from or how it is produced,” said Russ. “We wanted to give them something that they wanted to take care of and they have definitely done so.”

The best part for the youth is seeing the results of their hard work. The youth made a homemade pizza recently and were able to use pizza ingredients from their very own garden! They also plan to make their own salsa as a gift for one of their sponsors, Vora Financial, who helped provide funding for them to purchase supplies.

S.T.A.R. Programs exist throughout the Northern and Western Regions of Arizona including: Mohave, Yavapai, Coconino, Navajo & Apache Counties. To learn more about the S.T.A.R. Program, please visit and click on “Intervention Programs.” If you’d like to help support the needs of the youth program, please contact Russ at 928.527.1000 ext.106.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tucson Medical Center and the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault join forces to provide crisis support

Tucson Medical Center and the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA) have teamed up in a unique collaboration to create the ideal resource and support center for recent survivors of sexual assault. Both agencies understand how important it is to respond immediately and professionally to the needs of a survivor or sexual assault, while also providing as much comfort as possible in such situations.

On September 22nd, community leaders and staff will gather for the grand opening celebration of this new state-of-the-art trauma forensic and support center. The grand opening begins at 9am and will begin with a ribbon-cutting celebration followed up by tours of the facility.

The Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA), a member of Arizona’s Children Association family of agencies, has as its mission to reduce the trauma and incidence of sexual assault by providing treatment and promoting prevention of sexual abuse, incest, molestation and rape. The facility at Tucson Medical Center will provide the first step of medical support for recent survivors and SACASA staff will be on hand to provide emotional support services and conduct medical forensic exams.

“This center is a huge step forward in our community’s ability to provide the full spectrum of care that is so urgently needed in a crisis situation following an assault," stated Montserrat Caballero, program director of SACASA. “Sexual assault is a reality in Southern Arizona and it is our responsibility as a community to provide support. This facility will help meet the needs of survivors. This partnership is incredibly unique and highlights the level of compassion and care that Tucson Medical Center has for all survivors.”

The support facility, located in the Tucson Medical Center Emergency Department, includes a dedicated medical forensic examination room, a quiet space for family and friends, and a separate EMS entrance for additional privacy. All spaces and equipment have been generously donated to SACASA by TMC.

For more information or to RSVP for the grand opening celebration, contact Becky Holton at 520.327.1171 ext.2302.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Golden Gate youth ready for new school year thanks to Cox Communications

Excited kids lined up this past Saturday as Cox Communications provided necessary school supplies for the youth at Golden Gate Community Center, a member of Arizona’s Children Association family of agencies. Students served within the Golden Gate Community live primarily below the poverty level, often doing without basic school supplies and uniforms needed, but Cox Communications has generously stepped in to provide needed items to start their school year off right.

In previous years, donations of school supplies for these children has been provided by another donor, but when they were not able to follow through this year, Cox stepped in at the last minute to ensure that none of these children headed to school empty-handed. Cox Communications’ support will allow nearly 100 children to start school with the basics and help relieve some of the financial stress that can burden families at the beginning of the school year.

“We are so thankful to Cox for making the back-to-school event a wonderful occasion,” said Joanna Marroquin, kinship coordinator for Golden Gate Community Center. “The families were so happy to have had this help.”

With a mission ‘to provide programs and services that improve the quality of life for children and families in west central Phoenix neighborhoods’, Golden Gate has always been a beacon of hope to those in the surrounding community. Golden Gate Community Center offers an array of fitness, recreation, health and education programs and classes for children, youth, adults and seniors.

For more information about the programs and services at Golden Gate Community Center, visit or call 602.233.0017.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Golden Gate Community Center celebrates 75 years of providing services to children and families

Golden Gate Community Center is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its founding in 1936. Local community members joined Golden Gate staff and supporters on Saturday, August 6 at the agency’s semi-annual health fair to honor those who have contributed to our success over the past 75 years and a commemorative plaque was presented to mark the occasion.

With a mission ‘to provide programs and services that improve the quality of life for children and families in west central Phoenix neighborhoods’, Golden Gate has always been a beacon of hope to those surrounded by poverty, gangs and much crime. Golden Gate has a tradition of working with the community and provides an excellent example of how to build and sustain community.

Golden Gate Community Center was founded in 1936 by the Episcopal Church as the East Madison Street Settlement. Incorporated in 1952 as a settlement house, Golden Gate was a true community center offering a well-baby clinic, sports activities, a home training course, and a kindergarten.

Displaced by the construction of Sky Harbor Airport in 1986, many residents of the old neighborhood were dispersed, but a significant number came with Golden Gate to rebuild their community near its new and current location at McDowell Road and 39th Ave. Sadly, most tight-knit communities, once disrupted, fail to hold together. The fact that Golden Gate has been able to do that and continues to prosper so many years later is a testament to its importance to the community.

In 2004, a merger with Arizona’s Children Association allowed Golden Gate to develop significant partnerships with organizations across the city and county, to bring unique and innovative programs to the center. In 2005, Congressman Ed Pastor, Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and Councilman Tom Simplot hosted a Tardeada celebration of Golden Gate’s service to the community and Governor Janet Napolitano proclaimed October 23, 2005: “Golden Gate Community Center Day.”

Golden Gate currently serves over 10,000 children, youth, adults, and seniors annually through a wide variety of minimal or no-fee programs and services for tots to seniors for the surrounding largely Hispanic neighborhoods. "We work with our community residents, of all ages, to determine the kinds of programs that are needed for our neighbors and then we go to work to make them happen," said Phyllis Habib, director of Golden Gate Community Center, “Golden Gate is a part of Phoenix’s legacy and a significant part of the state’s history.”

A brief outline of Golden Gate’s history including photos throughout the agency’s history can be found at

For more information about the programs and services at Golden Gate Community Center, visit or call 602.233.0017.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Arizona’s Children Association donates historical archive

Arizona’s Children Association recently donated a significant collection of historical materials to the Arizona Historical Society to increase accessibility of the information while ensuring ongoing preservation of the materials.

Arizona’s Children Association was founded in Tucson, in 1912, as a receiving Home for the dependent and neglected children of Arizona. The agency has grown tremendously over the years to provide a diversity of services now available within each county of Arizona. Their story is a testament to the people of Arizona who have remained committed to providing hope for children and families.

The bulk of the collection contains materials from 1915 – 1960 and includes early newsletters, Board minutes, business correspondence, accounting journals, a treasure trove of photographs and scrapbooks as well as the memoir of one of the original founders, Minnie Tevis Davenport. The oldest document in this collection is a scrapbook, from 1915, containing newspaper clippings from “opening day.” The donation does not contain case records or adoption information.

“We are very fortunate that our agency’s founders and early leadership had the foresight to preserve so many original materials,” said Arizona’s Children Association’s President and CEO Fred Chaffee. “As we celebrate our ‘First Century of Hope,’ we are also looking forward to the future and we recognize that it is our responsibility to ensure that these materials are protected and remain accessible for generations to come.”

The Arizona Historical Society Library and Archives’ actively collects and preserves materials that chronicle the history of Arizona. The story of Arizona’s Children provides a rare insight into the development of child welfare across Arizona.

“We are thankful to the Arizona Historical Society for their support of Arizona’s Children Association,” added Fred Chaffee. “Our agency has a proud and interesting history that will now be preserved as a significant part of the state’s history.”

To learn more about the history of Arizona's Children, visit and click on AzCA Centennial.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Discover How Infants and Toddlers Learn

Why are the years from birth to 5 years old so important?

How does a child learn?

Parents and caregivers often struggle to understand the best choices for their child when there are so many products for sale that promise drastic changes in your child’s development.

These are the kinds of questions that New Directions Institute for Infant Brain Development (NDI) answers so that parents and caregivers can help children develop healthy brains. This information is provided in Wired for Success® Workshops that are provided free of charge at locations all over the state.

Wired for Success® explores brain development with a special focus on Security, Touch, Eyes (vision), Play, and Sound, the five key components of NDI's S.T.E.P.S. to Early Brain Development® curriculum. This workshop addresses new and cutting-edge developments in neuroscience and presents practical methods for stimulating healthy early brain development in children. It provides parents and caregivers with training and tools to help every infant, toddler and preschooler in Arizona develop a healthy brain and enter school ready to learn.

Upcoming dates and locations listed below. We invite you to please join NDI for one of these free workshops:

Saturday, July 16, 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM,
Tempe St. Luke's Hospital, Tempe
(en español)
Sponsored by First Things First

Saturday, July 16, 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM
University of Arizona Medical Center
Sponsored by Freeport-McMoRan

For more information call 602-371-1366 or visit our website

New schedule information updated regularly online.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Foster Parents of the Year Award

May was National Foster Care Awareness Month and our foster care programs celebrated their families with events across the state. Among the celebrations, we are very pleased to announce that Lin LeClair-Turner and Dan Turner and Phillip and Theresa Michelle McNeal, two of our very own Arizona’s Children Association foster families, tied for the “Keith Smith Foster Parent of the Year Award” in Pima County. This award is given by the Child Abuse Prevention Awards (CAP) to honor those who have made a difference in the continued fight against child abuse.

Lin, Dan, Michelle and Phillip were honored at the Tucson Juvenile Court as a part of the 2011 March for Children activities. This distinctive award is given “to an outstanding foster parent(s) who has made an impact in the lives of children and youth in foster care.”

Lin and Dan have been foster parents since 2005 and have made incredible contributions to children over the past six years. They have taken in 26 children, most of whom have significant developmental delays and/or medical needs. Lin and Dan note that their goal has always been that no foster children will leave their home until placed in a permanent home. Lin and Dan have achieved this goal time and time again. Their AzCA licensing worker described them as “persistent and loving advocates for children between the ages of zero and five. They have a true understanding of the importance of healthy bonding and attachment for children within this age range.”

Although it is hard to believe that they would have time, the Turners are also long term, active members of the Foster Care Review Board and the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents where Dan also serves as Board Member.

Phillip and Michelle McNeal have been foster parents since 2006. Their AzCA licensing worker describes them as “a foster family who goes above and beyond in providing the children in their care with love, acceptance, and a sense of family.” Michelle and Phillip care for children of all ages, including youth with emotional or behavioral issues that are difficult for other families to handle. They never seem to refuse a placement, even if they are only given short notice.

Phillip and Michelle have cared for more than 40 children since they began. They have dealt with mental illness, mental retardation, aggression, oppositional behaviors, threats of violence, learning disabilities, drug use, and much more, yet they are able to remain positive and act as mentors to other foster families by speaking at trainings intended to recruit more foster parents to provide care.

Foster families are needed across the state. We will provide the training, resources and support your need to change a child’s life. To learn more about AzCA’s foster care program and find out how you can get involved, visit and click on ‘Permanency.’

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

University of Phoenix Provides Laptop Donation for Arizona’s Children Staff and Client Use

The University of Phoenix recognizes the value of technological skills and positive learning environments for those in their communities. In an effort to encourage opportunities for those served by our programs, The University of Phoenix has chosen Arizona’s Children Association as the recipient of 20 lap top computers. All donated computers were refurbished, re-licensed and re-programmed for use by AzCA staff and clients.

Arizona’s Children Association will use the laptops for training staff and family partners in our more than 25 offices around throughout the state. “The donation of laptops from the University of Phoenix will allow families we serve across the state access to valuable tools and resources to improve their lives,” said Denise Ensdorff, Director of Operations for Central, Western and Northern regions. “This will touch many, many lives.”

“University of Phoenix strives to remove barriers to higher education,” said John Ramirez, University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies associate campus director. “The laptop donation gives the University’s School of Advanced Studies an opportunity to donate valuable resources and provide access to necessary tools to make a difference in our community.”

Thank you to University of Phoenix for their support.

Left to Right, John Ramirez, University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies associate campus director, Nick Galemore, Business Analyst, Denise Ensdorff, Director of Operations for Central, Western and Northern regions and Irene Blundell, Director, Public Relations. Photo courtesy of University of Phoenix.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Arizona’s Children Association Centennial Celebration honors Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall with the “Centennial Legacy” Award

Arizona’s Children Association is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding in Tucson in May 1912, with a full schedule of Centennial Celebration events throughout the state and wrapping up with grand celebrations in Phoenix and Tucson in May 2012.

Local community leaders joined Arizona’s Children Association staff and supporters on Thursday, May 5, to honor the donors, volunteers, employees and families who have contributed to our success over the past 100 years. The celebration highlighted the sexual abuse support services offered by Las Familias Angel Center for Childhood Sexual Abuse Treatment, a member of Arizona’s Children Association family of agencies. The event was also an opportunity to celebrate Arizona’s Children Association’s commitment to providing a second century of hope to our communities. Arizona’s Children Association board members, Tom Knox and Pamela Traficanti, served as hosts for the event.

Among the highlights of the evening, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall was honored with the “Centennial Legacy” Award for her dedication to ensuring that our community meets the needs of children and families who are victims of crime. More than 25 years ago, the Pima county attorney’s office was among the founding members of the development of Las Familias when they identified the critical needs of victims of childhood sexual abuse and recognized the need for specialized services. Since she joined the Pima County Attorney’s Office, Barbara LaWall has been a strong supporter of agencies like Las Familias and she has been a strong advocate for child victims of sexual abuse.

Guests at the Centennial Celebration were also asked to sign a “Book of Hope” to offer advice that will inspire future generations of children, families, volunteers, communities, staff members, business partners, elected officials, financial donors and Board members all working together to continue a legacy of hope for Arizona. The “Book of Hope” will travel to Centennial receptions across Arizona during 2011-2012 and then be preserved for Arizona’s Bi-Centennial.

A very special thank you to Community Partnership of Southern Arizona for their support of Arizona’s Children Association and our celebration of our 100 years of providing hope to Arizona.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Eat Out. Make a Difference. Dine Out for Safety on Wednesday, April 20

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month. As a nonprofit with the mission of “protecting children, preserving families,” Arizona’s Children Association works tirelessly across the state to end interpersonal and family violence. We rely heavily on individual and corporate contributions to maintain the quality and efficiency of our programs to help make all our Arizona communities a safer, healthier place to live.

For the past 15 years, local restaurants, businesses, organizations and individuals have united with the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault in Tucson in a unique and fun community wide experience to support services for survivors of sexual assault and children affected by family violence called “Dine Out for Safety.” Last year, AzCA expanded “Dine Out for Safety” statewide.

Plan to eat out and make a difference on Wednesday, April 20, 2011. Participating restaurants in Tucson, Flagstaff, Prescott and Yuma will generously donate up to 20 percent of their day’s proceeds to support Arizona’s Children Association’s services for survivors of sexual assault and children affected by family violence.

Generous sponsorships of Dine Out for Safety permit all proceeds to be directed to the Arizona's Children Association programs aimed to prevent family violence, child abuse and domestic violence in the community where the funds are raised.

To check out the yummy participating restaurants in your community, visit To learn more about other Sexual Assault Awareness activities throughout the month of April, visit

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Name is Teri Hess

A Personal Reflection by a Foster and Adoptive Mom

My name is Teri Hess and I have fostered 12 children and adopted seven through Arizona’s Children Association Foster Care Program. When I became a foster parent in 2003, I never expected that I would one day be the parent of eight children. I had one daughter, Tina, and had always wanted more children. As a single parent, adoption appeared to be a good option for me. Tina was at an age where I felt I had the time to give to a child.

Ashlee was placed with us in 2003. On my way to pick her up, I learned about her sister Mimi who was placed at a separate shelter. At ages 2½ and 1½, the sisters were separated and labeled as “violent.” I brought both girls home that day, and adopted them in November, 2005. While they have their sibling rivalries, I have never seen the “violent” behavior I was warned about.

Jillian was placed with me in June of 2004, seven days before her first birthday. She was returned to her mother in December of 2005, which was devastating to me, as I had hoped to adopt her as well. I was able to put my feelings into a letter to her mother, which lead to a positive relationship and we continued to keep in touch after Jillian returned home.

After Jillian left, Angelina was placed in my home. I was asked to adopt her and fully intended to do so. However, a year later, the case manager contacted me and informed me that Angelina was to be placed with a relative who had come forward. My family was once again crushed, but we went along with the case plan and Angelina went to her aunt’s home in August 2007. Four months later, the case manager called and asked if I would still like to adopt her. My answer was “YES!” and Angelina was adopted in March of 2008.

During this time, a three year old named Alexis was placed in my home. She was labeled as “withdrawn, antisocial, and unaffectionate.” Her two younger siblings were placed halfway across the valley. When I asked about the younger siblings, I was told that Lexi’s brother, Issac, had anger issues at age one. Her younger sister, Arianna, was less than a year old. I told my workers, “we have to get her siblings here.” In November 2006, Isaac and Arianna were brought to my home. I immediately saw a change in Lexi. It appeared as if she was finally able to relax, knowing her siblings were with her. What came next was a few years of court dates, and in November 2009, I adopted all three kids on National Adoption Day.

You would think this is where my story ends… but if you are keeping track, I have only talked about 6 of the 7 children I have adopted.

So here is what I call my “swan song” – in July 2007, Jillian was found in a parking lot in Payson. Her mom was struggling with mental health issues and was in a down cycle. The CPS case was transferred down to Phoenix, and since it had been over a year since Jillian had been returned home, reunification efforts were put into place again. At this time, Jillian was four years old and had spent half her lifetime in my home. As she watched her siblings get adopted, Jillian hoped that one day she, too, would be adopted into the family. Her wish came true in June 2010, when, at 6½ years old, she officially became Sierra Jillian Hess.

The past seven years have been a roller coaster of emotion for me. I have learned a lot about relationships and formed lifelong friendships. I am still in contact with many of my children’s “other mothers,” and we still talk about them to this day. We have nothing but positive thoughts towards them, and wish them the very best. Things happen for a reason, and while I was heartbroken each time a child left my home, I knew that there was another one who needed me at that time. There is always another child who needs you.

I have learned so many lessons along my journey. First of all, I have learned to not listen to the "labels" that are placed on children. What they really need is love and nurturing. I am so grateful that I took the time to form my own opinions about the children placed in my home. I have witnessed my only daughter grow from an awkward, rebellious teenager into an amazing big sister, then into a young woman, and now, a soon to be mother.

People often ask me how I manage as a single parent of seven young children. I tell them “I never wanted to adopt 7 kids, but God has a sense of humor. Some days are better than others, and other days are not as good as some.” My life revolves around my kids and I would not have it any other way.

As the Foster Care and Adoption chapter in my life closes, I know many of you are just beginning your journey. I wish you the very best and offer you this piece of advice: Follow your heart and do what is right for the kids – because you are their voice. Speak up and actively participate in every aspect of these children’s lives, because there is someone out there that can help, you just have to find them.

To learn more about foster care and adoption with Arizona's Children Association, visit and click on "Permanency."

Friday, February 11, 2011

We Call it "The Beanbag Place"

Three year old Benjamin Wexler, and his parents Doug and Elyse and younger sister Sabrina, have been participating in classes and workshops at The Parent Connection since Benjamin was born.

Benjamin calls it "The Beanbag Place" because during circle time at the weekly playgroups, there's a song where the children throw beanbags. Benjamin also likes dressing up like a lion and giraffe in The Parent Connection's costumes, and that he and his parents "play some games" at the 'Beanbag Place." What Benjamin doesn't know, and his parents appreciate, is that all the fun will have a significant impact on his successful future.

"When Benjamin was born I got a flyer at the hospital about the First Steps program, a newborn support group for parents of newborns," said Elyse. "I was pretty new at parenting and was looking for other people who were having the same experiences."

During the First Steps program Elyse learned about TPC's "Parents as Teachers" program and now, a parent educator comes once a month to Elyse and Doug's home to answer their parenting questions and provide information and support. "My parent educators have really seen us through it all," said Elyse. "We work on sleeping, napping, discipline and all of the issues that come up in parenting. Mostly you realize that you're ok and that you're learning what you need to be a good parent."

For Doug, "The staff has been great. They're very friendly, very knowledgeable and they've helped us solve some problems."

Elyse and Doug also participate in the playgroups at The Parent Connection which include one hour of child directed playtime and ½ hour of circle time where families participate as a group. Doug is a teacher and attends playgroups during the summer when he's off school. A highlight of the playgroups is the "take a book, leave a book" program so that children leave each time with a new book to read.

Elyse returned to the First Steps group when her daughter Sabrina was born, and "really enjoyed it because I was a totally different person.

"Parenting can be isolating, and it's really hard to know if you're doing the right thing," added Elyse. "I have met some really nice people"

Doug adds, "The name The Parent Connection is great. We have connected with great people."

To learn more about The Parent Connection, visit

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yummy Restaurants Wanted to Participate in Dine Out for Safety

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

To increase awareness about our vital services and raise funds to prevent family violence, child abuse and domestic violence across Arizona, Arizona’s Children will hold Dine Out for Safety on Wednesday, April 20 at restaurants across the state.

Restaurants in Flagstaff, Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma are invited to participate in Dine Out for Safety by committing a percentage of their proceeds for the day to benefit Arizona’s Children Association. Restaurant benefits include their name or logo on promotional materials printed for the event, recognition in the Arizona’s Children Association newsletter and the restaurant’s logo and/or name on the Dine Out for Safety website.

Interested restaurant owners can go to or e-mail Becky Wilson at or call (800) 944-7611 ext.2302 to learn more and register. In order to be included, we must have your completed restaurant commitment form by Friday, March 4, 2011.

Friday, January 7, 2011

AAA Arizona, KPHO and KOLD Stuff more than 1,500 Stockings!

AAA Arizona, KPHO TV in Phoenix and KOLD TV in Tucson joined forces this year for a Stuffed Stocking drive that will brighten the holidays for more than 1,700 children served by Arizona’s Children Association in Phoenix, Tucson and Prescott.

AAA reached out to donors across the state to drop off their stuffed stockings at their local AAA location via television spots on KPHO TV and KOLD TV.

“We were thrilled to work with the Arizona’s Children Association and benefit such a worthy cause,” said Brad Oltmans, vice president of insurance for AAA Arizona. “AAA is committed to giving back to the community, and hopes these stuffed stockings will help spread a little cheer to children in need during the holidays.”

“The participation we have seen from the Stuffed Stocking drive speaks volumes about how much our community cares about its children. Even during these tough economic times, people are coming together and paying it forward to those in need. We at CBS 5 are proud to be part of such a wonderful program,” said JoLynn Houk, marketing manager, CBS 5 Phoenix (KPHO). “The Stuffed Stocking Drive underscores a spirit of giving in our community. It is wonderful to be part of a program that brings people together to help pay it forward to children who face daily challenges; the holidays are a time to put cheer into their lives.”

Photo: The Elves at the Tucson broadway AAA (left to right): Ruth Hughes, Cathy Lenox, Melody Watts, Debbie Kyle, Ellen Yasmer