Arizona Helping Hands Helps 16,000 Kids Sleep Safely
16,000 children have received a bed or a crib from Arizona Helping Hands in just 7 short years. 16,000 boys and girls have been given a safe place to sleep, thanks to our work providing essential needs to children in foster care.
Back in the summer of 2013, a small volunteer-based organization named Arizona Helping Hands reached out to the foster care community. Seeing daily media releases about the crisis that our state was facing in handling child abuse and neglect reports, we wanted to help. We learned that at that time there was no place in the state where foster parents could receive the essential items for children who were placed in their care, often with no warning. In 2013, news stories told of children sleeping in government offices or on the floor at Grandma’s house. These boys and girls who had been victims of abuse and neglect deserved so much better, and we heard a call to action.
Today, grandparents who receive notice that their grandchildren are in need of love and safety have a place where they can get help. When the call goes out to foster parents that an infant is being released from the NICU at a local hospital, having been born exposed to poisonous substances, Arizona Helping Hands is their first stop. They will leave our facility with a new crib, clothing, diapers and supplies to care and love that little baby, to ensure she has a chance in life.
October is safe sleep month. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 3,500 children will die of sleep-related deaths this year. Arizona Helping Hands has provided more than 4,000 cribs to infants since 2013. These cribs are given to foster parents with a card that shares the ABCs of safe sleep. A baby should sleep Alone, on its Back and in a Crib. These simple steps can save lives.
Our mission is to provide essential needs for children in foster care through our programs promoting safety, permanency and health. A bed to sleep on for a youngster who has had her life disrupted, and a crib for that baby who struggles through sleep challenges as he withdraws from the substances he was born with fill these three cornerstones of our mission.
I think of the comfort of my bed, and the peace I feel as I settle down for the night, and I wish the same for every one of the 14,000 children in our state’s foster care system today. They deserve that sense of peace, that sense of security and safety. I am so very proud of our accomplishments over the past seven years, and the hard work we have done to become the largest provider of essential needs to children who have experienced trauma. I know that we could not have assisted so many children without community support.
Contrary to the belief of many, our state does not provide funding to fill the basic needs of children in our foster care system. Arizona Helping Hands receives no governmental support for our work. Individual taxpayers are the driving force behind our programs by donating through the Arizona Foster Care tax credit program. As a Qualifying Foster Care Charitable Organization (QFCO #10003), every taxpayer can donate to support our work and receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit when they file their Arizona state tax return. For a married couple, a $1,000 donation to Arizona Helping Hands will result in a $1,000 tax credit on your individual tax return. It costs you nothing to give a crib to infants in need of a safe place to sleep.
I sleep a little better every night knowing that my efforts, and my tax dollars, help children in foster care lay down their heads in a safe place tonight, thanks to the work of Arizona Helping Hands.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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