At a time when most of us have been reducing our social interactions and “sheltering in place,” first responders such as police, firefighters, and medical workers have all been praised for risking their personal safety to serve others. Foster families deserve equal praise.
Like other first responders, foster families move toward the emergency rather than away from it, fully aware of the risks they are taking. They weigh their own personal health and safety concerns against a greater good - to provide the love and nurturing that children so desperately need. They hug, comfort, and care for children they have just met without knowing who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Instead of retreating into a bubble, AASK foster families have been opening their doors to provide homes for children in Arizona’s foster care system. Over the last several months, AASK families have accepted new placements of 86 children. Risk of exposure is not limited just to the children, but comes with each visit from a parent, sibling, or DCS case manager. AASK families risk exposure to the extended network each child brings with them. We recognize and deeply appreciate their service.
Thanks to your generous contributions, AASK has been there to support our families so that they can focus on the 565 children they are caring for in their homes. To minimize the number of visitors into our families’ homes, AASK moved to virtual visits. To make sure that our families were supported, AASK increased our family check-ins from monthly to weekly and introduced online video support groups. Our families noticed and appreciated our efforts. We asked our families how well we were serving them during the pandemic, and ninety percent (90%) of our families felt we have been very supportive and an additional ten percent (10%) felt we have been supportive. No family said they felt unsupported. Fifty percent (50%) of the families surveyed felt our additional check-ins have made them feel more supported than before.
To continue to find new foster and adoptive families, AASK has reworked the way it recruits and trains families. AASK’s recent introduction of online information sessions has resulted in a 25% increase in the number of people attending an information session over the same period last year. AASK has also begun to allow families to be trained online instead of requiring in-person training. As a result of these changes, over the last 3 months, AASK has licensed 22 new families.
Although we are proud of what we have accomplished, significant work remains. COVID-19 has created a perfect storm of factors leading to a sharp increase in unreported cases of child abuse and neglect. Children are cut off from interactions with professionals and teachers, confined at home with caregivers and relatives, and families are feeling the stress of job loss and economic uncertainty. Thanks to your financial help, AASK has already begun proactively recruiting, training and supporting additional foster and adoptive families - to meet the significant increase in the number of children expected to enter foster care.
Thank you for your support. As long as people like you continue to support AASK, we can continue to ensure that every child has someone who cares.
Chief Executive Officer
Aid to Adoption of Special Kids