Statewide statistics published June 30 by the state Department of Child Safety should make everyone concerned.
It indicated that for the year ending June 30, 9,566 children entered the foster care system. For that same period, the DCS received 45,172 reports requiring investigation.
That’s a lot of boys and girls whose lives have been turned upside down by actions inflicted on them by adults.
The report showed that the average time a child will spend in a foster placement was 19.6 months – almost two years while the world decides if reunification with your biological family is a safe and healthy option.
The holidays bring a myriad of emotional challenges for everyone, and even more so in these days of COVID-19. But what about children in foster care?
The holiday season evokes so many feelings of doubt, insecurity and uncertainty. The average number of placements a child in foster care in Arizona will experience is 1.4, with some children being moved more than a dozen times.
No wonder some of these boys and girls wonder if Santa even knows how to find them.
Arizona Helping Hands exists to bring hope to the 14,000 children currently in the state’s foster care system. Along with our programs that provide basic needs including beds, cribs, clothing, diapers and school supplies, we add our Birthday Dreams Program and Holiday Toy Drive.
This month we want to bring hope for the holidays to thousands of boys and girls in foster care.
Our 22nd annual toy drive we will rely on our community partners to let children in foster care know that Santa will arrive at their house. In 2019, we provided gift packages to 6,500 boys and girls.
We set a much smaller goal for 2020, hoping that despite these days of the pandemic, we will generate the resources to provide two toys and a book to 3,500 children in foster care this December.
In past years, our Fill Santa’s Sleigh holiday party was held at our warehouse and attended by many visitors who delivered toys, games, books and puzzles to help fill those gift packages.
This year’s event will be a drive-through collection party 5-8 p.m. this Tuesday, Dec. 8.
Guests will be shepherded through our parking lot, passing by carolers and a photo op with Santa after dropping off their donated items to Fill Santa’s Sleigh for children in foster care. We are hoping for a traffic jam at 3110 East Thunderbird Road in Phoenix.
Bringing hope to children who have lived a life that has been filled with trauma is the mission that Arizona Helping Hands takes on year round. We all have an opportunity this holiday season to bring Hope for the Holidays to boys and girls who deserve a little extra love and support.