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A Tool Kit for Prospective AZ Foster Parents

November 19, 2013

PHOENIX - November is National Adoption Month. Foster parenting can be a first step toward adoption, and there's a new source of information in Arizona for those thinking about becoming foster parents. The Department of Economic Security and Magellan of Arizona have teamed up to create the Foster Care Tool Kit, which explains what it means to be a foster parent and what is required.

According to Shawn Thiele, deputy CEO of Magellan of Arizona, it also includes information on behavioral health and other community resources that might be needed by foster parents.

"That would include things like food, medical, support groups, or education groups and training."

She said the tool kit can also be useful to current foster parents if they care for children of different ages; for example, switching from small babies to teenagers. The tool kit is available through both the Magellan and Department of Economic Security websites, or at DES offices statewide.

Tasya Peterson, DES director of communications, said the tool kit also helps inform people in the community in general of how they can support foster parents, even if they're not interested in becoming such themselves.

Those means of support would be "such as providing meals, providing transportation for day care and doctor's visits," she said. "There are a lot of things that the community can do to support them."

Shawn Thiele said the tool kit explains how foster children can benefit from state-paid behavioral health services.

"There's a lot of trauma associated with the potential reason for why a child has to be removed and brought into the foster care system, but there's also just trauma associated from the experience of being taken from the home that they know," she pointed out.

She said the need for counseling is increased by other factors such as drug and alcohol abuse in the family, poverty, and even physical abuse and neglect. There are currently more than 14,000 Arizona children in foster care.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ