It's not easy being a kinship caregiver, yet in Arizona there are more than 198,000 children living in households headed by grandparents or other relatives (US 2010 Census). Instead of resting or retiring, these grandparents and relative caregivers took on the responsibility of caring for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable children. Many of these families find that relearning how to parent and adjusting to a new lifestyle can be emotionally, physically, and financially challenging.
Kinship, Adoption, Resource and Education (KARE) Centers provide support to kinship caregivers all over the state. That support has taken on many different forms in different areas of the state, but the KARE group in Phoenix has had one goal above all others: a grown up dream for their children…to go to Disneyland!
This past Thanksgiving, that trip became a reality. The group of 17 families, made up of 72 children and adults, had been planning and fundraising for four years to raise the money to take the once in a lifetime trip. Initially, they had thought this vision was beyond their grasp as many of these families have never been to Disneyland or never have had the opportunity to even visit California. However, they worked as team, created a fund and found creative ways to add to that fund. They've sold tamales and fry bread, washed cars, baked cakes and cooked lunches. A few weeks ago, after four years of hard work, they finally reached the $20,000 they needed to cover the cost of the bus trip, two nights in a hotel and their Disneyland admission.
“It was amazing to see how excited not just the kids were to visit Disneyland, but the grandparents too,” said Kinship Coordinator Joanna Marroquin who escorted the large group on the trip. “This whole trip has such a special meaning to them because it has been four years in the making. I am so amazed by their commitment and they should be truly proud of themselves.”
To learn more about KARE programs statewide, visit www.arizonaschildren.org and click on “Permanency Programs.”