For many people, there’s a certain sense of nostalgia in remembering the excitement of beginning a new school year as a child or teen. Your fond memories might include shopping for school supplies, picking out new clothes, and preparing to tell your friends all about your summer break adventures.
However, for children in the foster care system, the first day of school can be extremely challenging. Foster youth frequently change schools as they move from foster home to home, not knowing if they will be in the same school from one year to the next. Beyond the emotional hurdles of being in the foster care system, these children and teens are often in need of basic school supplies, money for extracurricular activities, funding for special services such as counseling, and more.
The Arizona Friends of Foster Children is focused on supporting experiences that children and teenagers in the state foster care system may not otherwise be able to have, including athletic, educational, and social activities. Although our programs give to children of all ages, we also dedicate much of our time and effort to Arizona teens.
If you’ve been wondering what you can do to help teenagers in foster care, especially with a new school year fast approaching, we would be happy to have you join our cause.
How Can We Help Foster Children in School?
Although foster parents can be eligible to receive a small stipend from the state to be used specifically for the children in their care, the total amount often falls far short of what is truly needed. For example, recent information provided by the Arizona Department of Child Safety shows that licensed foster care providers receive less than $29 a day for teens. This is intended to cover food, personal care items, clothing, and many other expenses, with small additional allowances sometimes available for educational purposes and other “extras.”
So, how can we fill the gap between what children in foster care need and what the state is currently able to provide? The answer lies in the generous contributions from donors to the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation.
Your donation will help us award funding to children and teens as a way to help provide for:
- School program fees
- Field trips
- Graduation expenses
- Tutoring and summer school
- School pictures
- Glasses or orthodontic care
- Athletic equipment and uniforms
- Clubs and groups at school or in the community
- Extracurricular classes or lessons
- Musical instrument rental or purchase
Our awards make it possible for teens in the foster care system to not just complete their schooling but to make the most of their junior high and high school years.
Keys to Success Program
Another way your donation to AFFCF help teens in Arizona foster care is through our Keys to Success Program. Youth between the ages of 16 and 21 can participate in this program, which is designed to prepare for adulthood by helping them:
- Prepare for and find employment
- Identify career and education goals
- Complete training and education that supports their goals
- Master personal and independent living skills
- Get in touch with organizations that can provide additional resources
As they prepare to transition out of foster care at age 18, our Keys to Success graduates are far better equipped for their future.
What are the Challenges Facing Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care?
Many people don’t realize that once a teen in foster care reaches the age of 18, they “age out” of the system. This means that, whether or not they have any type of support system, they become responsible for supporting themselves – even if they’re still in high school.
The statistics on children aging out of foster care are sobering. According to the National Foster Youth Alliance, once they turn 18, about 20% of teens in the foster care system instantly become homeless. And sadly, many will face major obstacles in the years ahead: only 50% will be able to secure gainful employment, 70% of young women that age out will have at least pregnancy before age 21, and there will be a less than 3% chance that the teens will earn a college degree during their lifetime.
But at the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation, we’re committed to providing young people in foster care the opportunities they deserve, and you can help. Your contributions help support programs aimed at teens and young adults who are preparing to transition out of Arizona foster care, including:
The Bobby Edd Penson Fund
Although many of us have faced unexpected challenges during our young adult years, Arizona teens and young people from foster care often begin their adult life with more significant disadvantages than we can even imagine. Unlike many college students, young men and women who have recently transitioned out of state-provided care do not have the familial support to help them through hardships.
Even something as seemingly small as a pricey car repair can derail the progress they have made, potentially forcing them to leave college or their vocational program. What would be an annoying convenience for many people can be a life-altering event for these vulnerable students, adding to the other barriers they face already.
The Bobby Edd Penson Fund seeks to provide financial assistance to these young individuals, helping them overcome surprise expenses without disrupting their education. The fund can cover costs that include rent, gas, auto repair, school supplies, utility bills, and vocational school tuition.
As a donor to the Arizona Friends of Foster Children, your contribution helps us provide aid to even more teens and young adults through this fund.
College is often a distant dream for children in foster care, largely due to the prohibitive cost of tuition, textbooks, and other necessities. The AFFCF’s Post-Secondary Scholarship Program pays for the tuition and fees of students 18 years and older, specifically those who aged out of Arizona foster care.
The scholarships are available for both four-year colleges/universities and community colleges, giving students the freedom to choose a path for their future. Because the scholarship program is largely funded by donations, contributors are truly making a difference in the futures of children across our state.
Help Children in Foster Care Rewrite their Stories with a Donation to AFFCF
So many of the youth in foster care have experienced trauma, dealt with neglect and abuse, and spent far too much of their lives without loving and supportive adults. Even for those that feel cared for by their foster families, teachers, and peers, the impact of their experiences can have far-reaching effects.
But even with a small donation, you can be a part of the effort to give these children hope for a joyful and successful future. At Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation, we are honored to help provide positive experiences and opportunities for children in the Arizona foster care system. Close to 90% of every donation goes directly to our programs, allowing us to continue expanding our efforts to reach as many children as possible.
Additionally, Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation is a Qualifying Foster Care Organization under the Arizona Foster Care Tax Credit, so your donation may qualify for a state tax credit (please check with your tax professional).
As the new school year approaches, you have an opportunity to help children and teens in foster care. Please consider making a donation to the Arizona Friends of Foster Children foundation today!
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