Safety First, a Crucial Matter for Foster Parents

In 2016, Arizona Helping Hands expanded our services to foster families to include the safety items needed to pass Arizona’s home inspection standards to become a licensed foster home.  This was a new initiative beyond the beds and cribs, clothing, diapers, personal care packages, and more that foster families can count on us to supply when a child in placed in their care.

The safety items we provide, including fire extinguishers, first aid kits, fire extinguishers and more serve so many purposes for the foster care community.  They help to ensure that the home in which the 14,000+ boys and girls in foster care reside are safe.  The ability to access these items for free eases the path to becoming a licensed foster home.  By doing so we hope that more caring individuals will open their hearts and homes for a child in need.

The Arizona Department of Child Safety (“DCS”) has an office specifically devoted to efforts to guarantee that the situation children in foster care are placed into is safe.  Their Life Safety Inspection (“LSI”) process helps to guard against common safety hazards for the boys and girls who come into the care and custody of DCS.

The shelves at Arizona Helping Hands warehouse are lined up with safety items for families in foster care and prospective foster parents.

Our mission at AHH is to provide essential needs for children in foster care through our programs promoting safety, permanency and health.  Safety – prominently – is the first objective.  It is so important to make sure that children who have been abused and neglected are in a safe environment.  Through the first half of 2020, we provided almost 500 foster families with the tools to make their homes safe.

Included in the items we gave out free to all those foster families were 560 child safety lock sets to ensure that chemicals and medicines are safely locked up; 375 carbon monoxide monitors to protect from poisoning; 560 fire extinguishers; 611 first aid kits; 356 packages of outlet covers, and perhaps most importantly 1,139 smoke detectors.

Safety is truly a crucial matter, and this point was hammered home recently when a foster family had a house fire that destroyed the family home and all their possessions in a flash.  The smoke detectors provided by Arizona Helping Hands gave notice to the 11 family members, along with the family pets that they needed to get out of the house NOW!  I shudder to think how the consequences could have been so much worse for the children who I know well.

Safety is one of those things that we all take for granted in many ways, but without proper precautions and tools, the tragedies that can befall anyone – including foster families – can be dire.  With the measures taken by DCS and the materials provided by Arizona Helping Hands, our most vulnerable children can be safer, and as recent evidence shows, lives can be saved.

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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