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We’ve found some great programs for AZ foster care families! Earlier this month, Janie saw our post about secret Arizona EBT benefits and asked if we knew about any similar programs for AZ foster care families. Of course, we got right to work developing a list!
Save money on admission!
i.d.e.a. Museum – Access for All
Mesa’s i.d.e.a Museum participates in an Access for All (No Barriers to Learning) program that provides opportunities for children and families who are at-risk, low-income, medically fragile, differently-abled, disadvantaged and/or marginalized to visit the museum for a reduced price. I have reached out to the museum to see if this includes foster families. I will update this as soon as I receive a response.
The i.d.e.a museum is a Museums for All partner, effective July 1, 2017. If you have an EBT card, click here to discover how you can get discounted admission to the museum!
Get FREE tickets from Arizonans for Children!
Arizonans for Children (AFC) is an INCREDIBLE agency that does some amazing things for the AZ foster care community. I cannot overstate how incredible this organization is.
Depending on funding and donations, you may be able to receive the following free or discounted tickets from AFC:
- Arizona Science Center passes
- Phoenix Art Museum passes
- Sports events like Arizona Diamondbacks games, Phoenix Suns games and Phoenix Mercury games.
- Train ride (once per year) for foster kids, Make-a-Wish children and children from the local hospital’s burn unit. The train can fit about 550 passengers, including face painters, magicians, balloon artists and more. The train travels round-trip between Glendale and Wickenburg.
Enjoy FREE special events from AZ Hope!
AZ Hope is an incredible resource for foster families. They also provide many wonderful resources to Arizona foster care families.
- All-Star Program encourages teenage boys to discover the All-Star within and even connects them with a real-life All-Star. Boys may be able to toss a football with an Arizona Cardinals player, play an instrument with a musician or skateboard with a professional!
- Arizona Princess Program invites teenage girls to discover their beauty inside and out with a special Princess event that includes formal dresses, shoes, jewelry and professional makeup assistance. Following the makeover, the girls enjoy a five-course meal and an evening of dancing!
Get FREE stuff for your foster child!
Charitable organizations have come together to provide new backpacks to families with a Notice to Provider from DCS. The backpacks are gathered adn distributed by Arizona Helping Hands, an agency that serves foster families. In 2016, over 5,000 backpacks were provided to eligible households!
Arizona Helping Hands provides essentials to foster families in need. Since foster children are frequently placed with nothing but the clothes on their backs, foster families with a Notice to Provider from DCS can receive twin beds, cribs, clothing, diapers, books and other items for the boys and girls in their care. You can receive service three times per year. Fill out the application here!
You can also receive a personal toiletry pack including shampoo, body wash, soap, toothbrushes and other essential items through the DREAM Kit program. The application is the same for this program.
FREE camps for your foster child!
Foster parents who work outside the home are eligible for DCS-sponsored childcare for their foster children. Please contact your DCS specialist for more information about this program.
Up to 6 days (or 144 hours) of respite care is available per year for licensed foster parents. Contact your licensing agency worker for more information.
Youth who are in foster care at age 16 or 17 can enroll in a post-secondary program and receive financial assistance until age 21 (or 23 under certain circumstances).
Foster children who need assistance with high school tutoring, vocational training, college tuition or housing assistance while in college can also apply for the John S. Brewer Memorial Scholarship Fund!
Foster kids between the ages of 11 and 18 can attend a Financial Literacy and Aging Out course from Arizonans for Children. These classes teach young people how to budget, apply for a job, write a resume, excel at an interview and apply for college financial aid.
Arizona Helping Hands provides free Birthday Dreams for foster children. Fill out this application 2-4 weeks before the child’s birthday to receive a book, toy and maybe even a bicycle! This program is available for children up to age 18.
FREE holiday events for your foster child!
Arizonans for Children host an annual holiday party for children.
AZ Hope also hosts an annual holiday party. It includes a catered dinner, arts and crafts, and gifts for each child. The gifts include age appropriate toys and new clothing. Zoo Lights tickets may also be available.
Arizonans for Children provides a FREE monthly legal education workshop for foster youths between the ages of 12 and 18 years old. The program teaches them about their rights and responsibilities under Arizona state law.
A limited number of foster children can receive personalized life books from Arizonans for Children. Children who will likely be in foster care permanently may benefit from having these books as a permanent connection to their past.
By law, Arizona provides the Comprehensive Medical and Dental Program (CMDP) for children in foster care who do not qualify for long-term care services. Get the details on CMDP here.
Arizonans for Children lists self-defense under their dance class options. For more information, please click here.
Arizonans for Children provides free tutor/mentors for any child in the custody of the state. The tutors and mentors are all qualified, background-checked individuals who will assist the child for at least one year with emotional, educational or life-skills needs. Tutors and mentors generally meet with the children at least two hours each week.
Enjoy arts and music programs for FREE!
The Solid Rock Teen Center provides free music lessons, free dance lessons and vocational training in sound, lighting, and staging. You’ll need to schedule classes for guitar, bass, drums and vocals in advance by calling Mark Savale at (602) 334-5674. Dance classes are scheduled by Hodgie Jo at (602) 770-5567.
Arizonans for Children
Arizonans for Children offers many interesting classes for Arizona foster care children, including:
- FREE cooking classes (Middle Eastern, French, Hispanic, specialty diets and more!)
- FREE computer classes
- FREE dance classes (Modern, Jazz, Contemporary, Salsa, Traditional Indian dance, Bollywood, etc.)
- FREE sewing lessons (basic sewing, hand sewing and machine sewing)
- FREE arts and crafts classes
*I have been informed that Free Arts Arizona is only working with agencies at this time but hopes to expand their services to individual families at some point in the future*
This agency provides creative and theraputic art programs to abused and homeless children in Arizona. Over the last 20 years, they’ve served nearly 100,000 children who have experienced family trauma, homelessness and violence. They offer weekly mentoring, workshops with professional artists, Free Arts Days for the community, and week-long camps.
Older teens are eligible for special services.
Youth who are likely to reach the age of 18 while in foster care (and former foster youth who are under age 21) can receive assistance through the Arizona Young Adult Program (AYAP) or Independent Living Program (ILP).
An independent living subsidy (ILSP) is a monthly payment that is provided to those age 17-21 who are living on their own.
These programs provide many services, including:
- Independent Living / Life Skills Training
- Educational Support & Assistance
- Employment Support & Assistance
- Youth Advocacy & Rights
- Voluntary Foster Care for Young Adults 18-20
- After Care Services
- Health Care
- Post-Secondary Education & Training
- and more!
Young people in foster care who are at least 15 years old may be able to participate in the Life 360 program. This program teaches money management, household management, planning for college, budgeting, job skills, interview skills, nutrition, meal planning and more.
Don’t forget these programs!
Children in foster care receive priority placement in Head Start and Early Head Start educational programs. All foster children between the ages of 3 and 5 years old who have been placed in out-of-home foster care are eligible for this service.
Arizona Boys & Girls clubs have 25 locations throughout the state. This organization encourages academic success, good character, citizenship and healthy lifestyles. Arizona State DCS recommends this program to foster families.
Arizonans for Children sponsor a Boy Scout troop at Sunshine Residential Home. This troop specifically provides a program unique to foster children. The skills and abilities taught by boy scouts help these young men (10 years and older) prepare for adulthood.
Many agencies offer supportive services and referrals for AZ foster care families.
Arizona Association for Foster & Adoptive Parents (AZAFAP) provides support and education to AZ foster care families.
Arizonans for Children provides tutoring, mentoring, life books, financial literacy and legal education. We’ve talked about their courses throughout this article. They also offer a fun holiday party for foster families!
Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation provides funds to assist with needs that are not funded by the state, such as sports team fees, music, dance, karate and gymnastics lessons, class trips, prom clothes and some graduation expenses. They’ve provided more than $7 million to foster families since 1984!
AZ Hope provides many things to the AZ foster care community, many of which have already been discussed. They also offer a Teen Reach Adventure Camp (TRAC) to foster children between the ages of 12 and 15 years old.
KARE Family Centers provides assistance to kinship caregivers. Services are available in English and Spanish. KARE has locations in Phoenix, Tucson, Sierra Vista, Casa Grande and Yuma.
Lodestar Family Connections Center (LFCC) offers family recreational opportunities, support groups, specialized training and more.