It seems to me that our children bear many burdens that were not a regular part of life when I was growing up. The opium crisis has impacted so many lives. Children like this innocent 5 year old girl are being raised by grandparents or by foster parents due to the stupid actions of adults. Her story mirrors so many who we meet at Arizona Helping Hands. Children whose primary role models can’t overcome the addictions that tempt them. Priorities are misplaced – the need to satisfy personal cravings outweighs the importance of doing right by the children you have brought into this world.
Thankfully many children like P have a family member who comes forward to provide them with the love, safety and comfort that every child deserves. Almost half of the children in foster care are placed with kinship providers – mostly family relations such as P’s grandfather. What many don’t realize is that although these kids are in the State’s foster care system, these unlicensed providers do not receive State provided support for caring for them. The burden falls entirely on the family member(s). Imagine that overnight you added 2, 3 or more children to your household. How could you manage financially – without even giving consideration to all of the other physical and emotional stresses that would be added to your life?
This is why Arizona Helping Hands exists. It is our mission to ease the burden of families who step forward to care for those like P. The beds and cribs we give these children to sleep in provide a spot of refuge and safety. To those who step forward to
foster, it is one less item that they need to be responsible for. I’ve met many kids who have been sleeping in nests of blankets on the floor, or fighting over who gets the sofa, before having their very own bed to lay down on from Arizona Helping Hands.
Jerry Lewis used to say every year during the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, “I would love not to have to do this next year.” I feel exactly the same way. The 3,000 beds and cribs we will provide to children in 2018 are way too many. I’d love to think that we’ll find a way to eliminate the drug epidemic, but it only seems to continue to grow. Until some shifting of the earth changes the path we’re on, we at Arizona Helping Hands will continue to be here to do our best to provide kids like P with the basic things every child deserves, and we’ll add in hugs and other supports for the journey ahead.
I’m grateful that so many wonderful adults choose to step in for those who are incapable of parenting the children who end up in foster care. I’m also incredibly grateful that donors and supporters make our work possible. I only wish my magic wand was capable of eliminating the need for our services! I would love to not have to do this next year!
Dan Shufelt is the President & CEO of Arizona Helping Hands, the largest provider of basic needs to Arizona’s children in foster care. Learn more about the Organization atwww.azhelpinghands.org and contact Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.