Navigating Uncharted Waters

These are truly uncharted waters. Families are confined to quarters and avoiding interactions with others. Parents are working from home, children are avoiding play dates. All the stresses that we are dealing with today place a huge burden on the family unit.

The Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc’s (“ATNI”) mission is “to promote healing of children impacted by trauma through supporting their families, schools and communities.” These days the schools are closed, and the community is locked down. It’s left to the family to deal with the trauma.

Every child today experiences trauma – no friends to play with, no routine to follow, limited outdoor activities to let off stress. Children in foster care have faced additional traumas through their life experiences – abuse, neglect and more have impacted their lives in a major way.

ATNI has published an article titled, “Trauma-Informed Parenting during our Staycation.” The article (https://www.attachmenttraumanetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/social-distancing-infographic-final.pdf) lists tips for keeping our families rooted in safety and growing in connection during the COVID-19 Quarantine. Among the tips: Regulate yourself, calmly assure children, establish structure and routine, focus on you and reach out to others. All very important tips that could apply to every family in America today.

The issues of this crisis will take a toll in innumerable ways on our families. I fear that the economic pressures, the loss of jobs, and the confinement to close quarters will lead to family conflict. School teachers are the primary mandated reporters – informing authorities when they recognize something amiss in the lives of children. Without those eyes looking out for our most vulnerable, what challenges will arise?

Arizona Helping Hands is the largest provider of essential needs for Arizona’s 14,000+ boys and girls in foster care. Our assistance makes a difference for children, giving Johnny a bed to sleep safely in, or providing diapers and a crib for baby Sarah to ease her recovery from being exposed to heroin. We are here to lend our helping hands. However, like everyone else, the virus has stripped away our ability to help. Placing priority on our staff members, we have suspended services to families until we can safely resume operations.

And who knows the effect COVID-19 will have on financial resources available to charities. With the stock market plunge, the loss of jobs and huge uncertainties, will donors have dollars to help us keep up the work of bringing hope to children in foster care?

These are truly uncharted waters, and we have much to learn and experience as we navigate our way through. My hope is that these times will bring us closer, will help us focus on unity and community, and will accentuate the importance of family, friends and charity to others.

Be kind to each other, lend a helping hand to someone in need, and reach out to others to pass on love and support. I believe that these are the only ways that we will make it across these stormy seas.

Thank you for your support of the work we do at Arizona Helping Hands. Our team cannot wait to reopen the doors and assist Johnny, Sarah and the thousands of children in foster care throughout Arizona who rely on our Helping Hands.

Arizona Helping Hands is a Qualifying Foster Care Charitable Organization (QFCO#10003) and, as such, donations from Arizona taxpayers qualify for a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on your state tax return. Learn more and donate today at www.azhelpinghands.org.

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 at www.azhelpinghands.org and contact Dan at dshufelt@azhelpinghands.org

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