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